This picture was taken two years ago.
On Thursday, July 29, 2010, our orange cat, Sammy lost the use of his right leg. We heard a thump in the kitchen, and we now assume he had jumped down from a favorite perch on a kitchen chair, and he tried to pull himself along the floor. I carried him into the living room, and once again the pulling thing with his good legs showed us that there was something seriously wrong. I called the vet and explained that it was an emergency, and could we bring him in at the 2 PM appointment that we had for our other cat, Chewie. They said no, but we could bring them both at 3:30. A few minutes later I called back and said we'll bring Sammy at 2 and then Chewie at 3:30, which we ended up doing even though it meant extra driving.
The vet ran several tests and concluded that Sammy's heart had "thrown a clot" that lodged in his shoulder and blocked most circulation to the leg. He said usually the clots lodge in the hindquarters and are very painful, but that this one seemed to not be painful. He said that Sammy had a heart condition (irregular heartbeat causing thickening walls and throwing clots) and that Sammy, if he survived this clot, would have more in the future and probably painful and not conducive to life. He told us to take Sammy home and watch him on the weekend.
Sammy did not recognize the numb leg as part of himself. He probably considered it a mouse and thus attacked it viciously later that weekend. We called the vet first thing Monday because the wound had started to smell, and I feared gangrene. Because of his heart, the vet could not amputate. He gave us a hard plastic cone collar, oral antibiotic, and told us to bring Sammy back on Friday. He said that frankly Sammy's quality of life was very poor, as we all watched Sammy lying listlessly on the examination table. I asked the vet to give us some sedative so that Sammy wouldn't be so terrified when we brought him in on Friday, to make his last moments not so scary for him. The vet said don't wrap the wound, because it needed to remain open to let the germs out, but that Sammy must not gnaw on it anymore.
It wasn't long before Sammy figured out a way around the collar to get to his paw, which he continued to bite. So we had a cloth collar from a previous vet experience, and we put that on upside down, to try to keep Sammy from chewing on the paw. He continued to be listless. During the day I'd pick him up and move him to wherever I was in the house, and that is where he remained. We put a litter box in the bathroom for him and a towel on the floor and kept him in there at night.
On Thursday I had put Sammy on our bed without the hard collar, mainly because he could get around both collars, and I thought I'd be gone just a short time. I was gone about an hour, but I peeked in every few minutes to make sure he wasn't attacking the paw. The last time I looked in, there was evidence that he had attacked the paw again. I felt so guilty that I hadn't stopped this.
Friday morning, the day of Sammy's projected final visit to the vet, Sammy sat up, and he hopped a bit on three legs. We did not give him the sedative, because we wanted the vet to see him without the drug to see if he was well enough. The vet was amazed at the progress, and said that the paw must have had an abscess from the gnawing and that the abscess had drained and let the poisons out. I looked it up online, and we now feel that the abscess was why Sammy seemed so listless and ill earlier in the week. The vet said that Sammy might get the feeling and use of his leg within a few weeks, but if not, cats do well on three legs. He also said that Sammy's days are numbered because of the heat condition, that there will be another clot, and the next one will more than likely cause so much pain that Sammy would need to be put down.
We are seeing Sammy get better day by day. Now he no longer finds places on his own to hide, he goes to his old favorite places. He is interested in food and treats, he can get through the cat door and go up and down the basement steps. He licks the wound but doesn't bite. The vet said it was too soon to take off the collar, but Sammy could get around it anyway, and he isn't attacking the wound, so we have left it off. There is quite a bit of dead tissue on the bottom of his paw. I suspect that if it weren't for the heart that the vet would cut out the dead area, but I assume that in time it will come off anyway. Sammy is putting his foot down as he walks. There is a limp, and I haven't seen him extend his claws on that foot, so I suspect the paw itself is still paralyzed. But I am glad to have Sammy back.
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