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Howl's Moving CATstle

A rescue kitty's journey

Howl's Moving CATstle

Three Weeks Post-Amputation

December 20th, 2017 · 6 Comments · Uncategorized

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I can not believe that it has been three weeks since Howl’s surgery.

The last three weeks FLEW by. The first five days of Howl’s recovery were exhausting and terrifying for me. I posted my 24 hours post-amputation blog before the sedation was fully out of Howl’s system, and he didn’t do so well at first after the sedation wore off. He started having episodes where he would thrash and fling himself. It was the scariest thing I have ever witness an animal do. He started having the episodes two days after his surgery and they came out of nowhere; one second he was sleeping on my chest in bed, the next second, he was flying off of the bed and doing flips in the air. Coincidentally, the vet was calling to see how he was doing just as he was having an episode, and they told me to bring him right in after I answered the phone in a panic. After an adjustment in his medication (he was on buprenorphine, which is an opioid,) he started to settle down, but not before ripping some of his nails COMPLETELY out. After that it was smooth sailing. Howl never had an issue using his litter box, cleaning himself or eating. After the surgery, he immediately seemed like a happier kitten.

He is finally getting to be a kitten.

From the moment that I became aware of Howl’s injury, all I wanted was for him to be a normal kitten; boy, did I get my wish. Howl is a completely different cat than he was before the surgery. When he is not sleeping (which I swear he only sleeps while I’m at work so that he can stay up all night and keep me up all night), he is running around and carrying toys in his mouth, chasing his brothers and chewing their tails, jumping up and down the cat tree as if he had four legs, and kissing and cuddling me. He is SO happy and SO goofy, so, so goofy. Sometimes I jokingly say that I wish he was still on the medication because I miss the sedative side effects.

In terms of his amputation sight and recovery now, it looks AMAZING. It’s hard to tell that he even had the surgery or if he was just born without a leg. His stitches came out last week and yesterday was his last dose of antibiotics so now he is medication free. He hasn’t had any episodes in two weeks and his nails are almost fully healed.

Here is a photo of Howl from today, shortly after I awoke him from his slumber.

Here is a photo of his incision site. I am still amazed that it looks like that not even a month after surgery.

I purchased the cats a new cat tower as I thought it would be perfect for Howl as it has ramps going up so that he can climb. I have not seen him use a single ramp once. He jumps up by himself and gets to the very top by himself (it’s a six foot tower!)

 

Howl’s favourite thing to do during recovery was to cuddle and watch bird shows. I am that crazy cat mom.

Brother Ace is always willing to help clean Howl if he missed any spots.

Brother Ace also makes a very good foot stool.


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24 Hours Post-Amputation

December 1st, 2017 · 4 Comments · Uncategorized

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Howl’s surgery went great. 

I dropped Howl off at the vet at 7 am on Thursday, November 30 2017. Before they took him, I got to meet with the surgeon and ask any questions and express any concerns I had. I took up nearly an hour of the surgeon’s time, which I kept apologizing for, but the surgeon was great. He explained every part of Howl’s itinerary. From them taking him from me, to the pre-op bloodwork, shaving, anaesthetic, intubation and the actual procedure. He explained to me that he would save Howl’s surgery until the end of his routine spay and neuter surgeries for the day, that way he could take as much time as he needed with Howl and not worry about becoming behind. He explained that removing the limb was the easiest part, but after removing the limb, he liked to take his time making the remaining area as aesthetically pleasing as possible and making the nicest looking surgery site. He told me has been a surgeon for over 26 years and had done thousands of amputations. He also said although I opted for him to stay overnight at their 24/7 care facility, that Howl really didn’t need to stay overnight as long as there were no complications and that he would probably be most comfortable and happy at home with his family, but it was completely up to me. I decided to wait and see how the surgery went and how he woke up after the anesthesia to make my decision. After almost an hour of talking, and me wringing my own hands so much that they bruised, I kissed Howl goodbye.

I spent the day trying to distract myself. I went out for breakfast with my nana, spent time with my best friend and her puppy and went out for dinner with my friends. I tried to keep myself busy or I would stress and stare at my phone waiting for the call to let me know how his surgery went. At 2:44 pm, his amazing surgical vet tech called me to let me know he had done amazingly. He was awake, eating and standing up on his own already. I asked her “how cute of a tripod kitty does he make?” to which she responded “the absolute cutest, I took some pictures and I am sending them to you right now.” She then asked if I was going to take him home the same day and I asked her opinion and she said he was doing really well and that it was my decision, but she said it wouldn’t be unreasonable to bring him home that evening. I decided to leave him there until the late evening for more monitoring and pick him up after 8 pm. His vets, vet techs and everyone at the clinic made this difficult situation much easier, they were absolutely amazing.

I did my final preparations while I excitedly waited for pick up time. I set up a large crate with his litter, food, bed and toys. I searched for premature baby clothing and sewed them. When it was finally 8 pm, we went to pick him up. They brought him out and I cried. I had seen the photos of him but seeing him half-stoned, missing a limb and with a large suture site was a little harder than I expected. Everyone was very understanding and comforting.

When we got home, I fed Howl, gave him his antibiotics and pain medications and put him on the floor of the livingroom while he ate. When he was done eating, he RAN up the stairs. He. Ran. Not even 12 hours post-op. After I sat there stunned for half a second, I chased after him to stop him from running because I didn’t want him to hurt himself and rip open his stitches. I found him upstairs using his litter box. My two biggest fears after the surgery (other than complications) was 1) him losing his appetite and 2) him having trouble with the litter. He tossed my fears aside within 15 minutes of getting home. I thought it was going to be easy to keep him relatively sedentary while he healed. I was apparently incorrect.

As expected, he was very tired. He is still very tired. He slept all night long, woke up for medicine and breakfast, and now he is sleeping in bed. He’s not a fan of his little t-shirt, but he’s even less a fan of the cone. The vet techs told me they had to take the cone off at the vet because he really didn’t like it. I put it on at home and he constantly thrashed around when it was on, so that isn’t going to work.

Here are some photos of him post-o.p. I know many if not all of you reading this have most likely seen your own pet’s incision, but just in case, warning that some of the photos have his visible incision.

This is the photo that his amazing vet tech sent me when he woke up from surgery. He looked like very drugged up kitty.

After he came home and had some dinner and medicine, he was ready to go to bed.

I always said I wanted a Sphinx kitten and now I partially have a Sphinx kitten since most of his upper body has been shaved.

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Howl’s Two Week Adoptiversary and Five Day Amputation Countdown

November 26th, 2017 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

Hi everyone! Howl has been home for officially two weeks today. We’ve made lots of progress with him considering he was found as a feral barn kitten.

For the first week, he was very afraid of the main floor of the house, he spent most of his time in our bedroom, in our closet that we made into a little safe space that we leave open for him to come and go.

Then he slowly started coming out of the closet and roaming the bedroom, and found a couple of new spots that were his favourite: underneath the cat tower in our room or with his belly to the heater. We also purchased cat stairs a week ago and have put them at the end of our bed, and he loves being able to climb up and down by himself (and his brothers like being lazy and using the stairs instead of jumping on the bed like usual).

When we are not home to monitor, we use a gate to keep him away from the stairs (mostly for my peace of mind as my biggest fear is him falling down the stairs). He didn’t venture downstairs for the first ten days even when the gate was not up, but he finally started to do so and he loves it now. His favourite place to sleep is under the Christmas tree, he loves to play with the ball track toy and he’s even able to use the hooded litter downstairs that we didn’t expect him to be able to use. One night this week, he went downstairs while we were asleep, jumped up on the couch by himself, and fell asleep with his oldest brother, Poe.

Our other cats are adjusting pretty well to him, but he can be quite overbearing sometimes.

Poe (two and a half years) tolerates Howl’s chewing and smacking for so long before he gets up and jumps to higher ground and taunts Howl from high up. He lets Howl sleep on him when he stops being a crazy kitten and calms down.

Theo (almost two years) is the slowest to adjust. Theo is a rescue from a hoarding situation and has a lot of anxiety and special needs. Theo’s nasal passage was badly burned as a kitten and he can’t breathe through his nose. He can sometimes be very anxious, and he tends to cry when Howl enters the crazy kitten mode and tries to play fight with him.

Ace (one and a half years) is the most surprising for us. Ace is a mama’s boy and the cat we thought would take the longest to adjust. Ace has taken on a rather paternal (And sometimes maternal) role. He is always very concerned with Howl. He follows Howl around and watches him when he walks around. He is SO patient with Howl, and will lie beside Howl while he chews, swats and play fights with Ace’s tail. We’ve even witness Howl trying to unsuccessfully knead and suckle Ace a couple of times (much to his disappointment).

Howl is acting like a true kitten now, terrorizing his siblings, trying to climb the cat towers, (I bought a shorter cat tower, with lower platforms for him to climb, and ordered this amazing cat tower with ramps that I hope will be easier for him to climb. The cat tower is 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide! It’s a Christmas present for all four kitties from Mom and Dad).

There are five more sleeps until his surgery and I’m trying not to worry, but it’s hard. I know it’s a well-done surgery, and I’ve even watched videos of the actual procedure online, but I worry about complications, his recovery, how he adapts, etc. I’ve read a lot about post-amputation depression and I worry about that as well. The vet said we could choose to take him home or leave him with the vet overnight after his surgery and we opted to leave him overnight so he can have the best medical care available within the first 24 hours, but we will get to see him when he wakes up from his surgery. Luckily, we are off for a few days following his surgery as it is his dad’s birthday and we had planned to celebrate it for a few days and booked some time off but will now be staying home and ordering in with our kids (which is a much more appealing celebration to me). I will be back when he has his surgery to post about how everything went! For now, here are some photos of how well he is doing and looking now.

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Howl’s Second Beginning

November 18th, 2017 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Hi everyone! I’ve had Howl for exactly seven days now, and it’s been a non-stop roller coaster since the second he got home. We adopted him from a local humane society on Saturday November 11 2017 (although the accuracy of the word “humane” is questionable.) We noticed he was holding his paw up and had assumed it was because his paw was stuck with so much dried litter that he couldn’t put his foot down without it being uncomfortable, so I cleaned his paws in a sink of warm water (much to his dismay) and put him down to explore. He ran across the room and dove under the couch, all while still holding his front left paw up. We decided to let him relax a little bit, and I called our vet to make an appointment first thing Monday November 13 2017, as our vet is only open Sundays for emergency appointments. That night, we put Howl in a cozy kitty bed and put him in bed with us, he didn’t seem to want to eat or drink and I just had a bad feeling about his paw. When I got up the next morning (I won’t say woke up because I didn’t sleep), I decided to call the vet and ask to bring him in that day, I just couldn’t wait and was worried he was in pain. When the vet began to examine his leg, she noticed there were some mobility issues in his left front leg that she was concerned about so she suggested we do an xray. As it was a Sunday, she said it would be best to send the xrays out to a specialist for them to look at, and in the meantime, she gave me pain medication and anti-inflammatory medication to take home. Later on that evening, she called me back with the bad news: Howl’s left elbow had been dislocated quite some time ago and our best course of action would be to splint him and see an orthopaedic specialist as there is concern regarding his growth plates. I made an appointment to come in the next day to have his splint put on and then immediately called the humane society. I spoke directly to the person who ran the humane society and was given three options: a) return Howl and get a refund for his adoption fee; b) take Howl to their vets, their appointments and let them deal with the costs and I get to keep Howl; and c) take Howl to the vets I choose and make the decisions regarding his care on my own, but I cover the costs. I decided to try option b, take Howl to their vets. I made an appointment for their vet in the next town over, about a 30 minute drive, for the following day, Tuesday November 14 2017. It was a small vet clinic, and we appeared to be the only ones there. Someone took us to the examination room, where we waited an hour for the vet to come in. Upon entering the room, she approaches Howl and we engage in the following conversation:

Vet – “Oh buddy, you’re in a lot of trouble with that arm. This kind of injury requires arthrodesis (joint fusion), which is a very expensive surgery and the humane society will not cover the costs. That being said, he CAN live with his arm untreated”

Me – “But what kind of life can he live?”

Vet – “Well, he’ll never use that leg. He will either drag it behind him or hold it up all of the time.”

Me – “And what about pain?”

Vet – “Well, he’s a kitten, so he’ll learn to adapt and live with the pain.”

That response made me sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe someone who was in the profession of caring for animals would suggest letting an animal live in pain. I asked about more pain medication because he was on his last day of what we received from the other vet, to which she said he would be fine. She then suggested we take his splint off because it’s not going to do anything in terms of healing at this point, to which I declined because prior to the splint being on, he wouldn’t even walk himself to the litter box, but since it’s been on, he actually walks around and even goes up and down the stairs. I left the vet knowing that if I gave him back, he would either be put down or left to live his life in pain and both of these outcomes left me with an awful feeling so I decided to call my vet back and have her send in the orthopaedic specialist referral. I promptly got a call back with an appointment on Monday, November 20 2017 and our vet gave us enough pain meds to last him for about two weeks. At this point is when I decided to do things myself, because the humane society had little regard for Howl. Now that he is casted and on pain medication, he runs around, plays chase with his kitty brothers, and acts like an actual kitten. Now we wait for the orthopaedic specialist appointment.

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