Sunday, December 27, 2009

Inky turns escape artist on us!

The last few days have seen an improvement in Inky's well being. He is in fact so well that he is now feeling up to escaping & investigating. This is great except for the fact that he has been an outdoor stray cat for all of his 8/9 years and my parents will now have to contend with keeping him indoors as whatever I read on the Internet suggests that tripods have too many strikes against them out of doors. Basically, they can not defend themselves and can get into trouble so Inky's days roaming the great out doors are over weather he agrees or not.
During my visit last night he escaped when I was going to feed him some darn good dinner -kind of counter intuitive if you ask me-settling under a table. I tried reasoning with him, then tried ignoring him and finally threatened him with a permanent return to the vets. The cold, lonely vets office, where he would never see us again. He slinked out and over to my mom.
Back in the bathroom and well fed I did what I thought might be impossible-trimmed all of his nails! The vet had done this during Inky's initial visit in Nov. and I had kept an eye on the nails ever since as it is recommended that you trim tripods nails or they will get in their way. I tried and succeeded with tricking Inky-alternating between rubbing that place on his neck where his I.V. had been ( seemingly a very itchy spot since it was shaved ) and cutting one at a time. I have learned the wisdom of teaching kittens how much fun nail trimming can be -when we got Nicki & Sandi we began an almost weekly routine of trimming followed by treats for all as a reward and our guys accept this very well now that they are older. We never got into the same routine with teeth and I know this is something I will live to regret. Many years ago I helped my parents take care of another stray cat and we brought her in for a teeth cleaning only to have to the vet create a fistula where decay had occurred = a nightmare in terms of the cat's ability to eat and drink and something that eventually led to her euthanasia a year or so later. So I know the importance of teeth maintenance but also know it is so hard to actually do. As with many habits it is best begun as early as possible and I do wish we had been able to stick with it.
The other good piece of news is Inky is healed enough that I feel comfortable picking him up without fear of hurting him. The hair / fur on his amputation site is taking a long time to grow back-possibly due to Inky's fastidious licking - but once it had grow in I'll be glad he has the padding and warmth it provides .

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Inky update

Inky is doing well!
The drain for the infection was removed on Saturday. The infection wound is healing a bit faster than the vet would have liked - despite Inky's pesky licking & warm compresses .He had his last dose of antibiotics on Monday. His hair is growing back and the scar from the leg amputation is actually healing and disappearing. His temperament is that of a mellow house cat. He loves to eat but then he'll just sit in your lap and pur for hours on end as you pet him. It is as if he is soaking it all in, enjoying life, drinking in every bit of love and affection. He is still confined to the warm , well padded and cozy bathroom except for the nightly forays with me downstairs to sit in my lap and watch T.V. with my parents . He gets anxious when I carry him down the stairs but I try and distract him with chit chat & he settles down soon enough. He still has newspaper in his litter box & still has the soft collar on most of the day. We are glad he survived and seems to be getting better with each day. The amputation was bad but the infection was awful too and to have that behind us is such a relief.
I try and visit once a day-usually in the late evening. It is sometimes the light of my day! (That is how bad things can be for me but I can not complain -having an ill pet really puts life into perspective!) My mom went for a check up yesterday and her blood pressure is DOWN! She attributed the improvement to having this ball of fur around the house. He has reminded us all of what truly is important. To have your health and to have love is just about all there is. Without both you might as well be lost. He is our Christmas gift this year.
When I get home from each visit Nicki & Sandi are waiting for me at the door and want to know where I have been. Seems I smell funny to them! I tell them they are very lucky cats. They have all 4 legs. Not all cats are as lucky as they.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

6 lives & counting...

Late last night I made my daily visit to check in on Inky. He seemed well enough that I brought him down stairs to hang out with my parents while they ate dinner. I won't lie & say Inky enjoyed this short foray but he did sit on my lap the whole time, purring as I pet him.
We had noticed he was having moments of aggressive licking of his incision site the past few days but this was in keeping with his behavior since he came home. It was as if there was something about the site that would suddenly bother him and he would go for the area. We had noticed some hair loss even and on Monday night as I sat with him I saw him quickly do this and when I diverted his attention a few seconds later I noticed slight bleeding by one of his stitches. My mom wisely decided to place the soft collar back onto Inky but it only did so much good as he was by now pretty practiced at getting around it and as folks will tell you-animals have a lot of time on their hands so they are free to sit and figure these things out without much in the way of distraction.
Inky had thrown up that morning so he was on our radar but he ate well after that and seemed to be improving day by day so we were not on high alert (In N.Y. we'd say code orange re: the terror alerts we get infrequently as time since 9/11 passes).
This morning my mom checked in on Inky and found a small hole had been licked-about the circumference of a #2 pencil and called the vet immediately and was told to bring him in. An infection was found and they slated Inky for operation to clean the area and install a drain. The sad thing is things had seemed to be going so well & my hopes were pinned on this continuing . You can watch for a decline but I was not prepared for it and it felt as if a ton of bricks had been dropped down on me from a great height. It leaves me back wondering if this was a wise path to chose.That is a terrible place to be left in for the moment. And so my faith ties itself to that tenuous ice floe of hope=the vets experience, the cats ability to thrive, survive and adapt and faith that there is a reason for all this.
"They" say animals are wise. Wiser than we tend to be. We might have reason and intellect and all sorts of educational resources at our finger tips but animals have the better of us. They have instinct , developed over centuries as the only thing that can guarantee their survival against the elements and travails of life. When Inky would lick his wound I thought several things:"they" say licking can stimulate healing. "They" say licking can be an indication of something. I was using my knowledge to divine that Inky was licking out of anxiety and perhaps pain (or possibly even phantom limb syndrome) and was considering getting something that tasted bad to discourage Inky's licking. It was only by accident that I had not gotten to do this. Inky's wisdom (if you are comfortable calling it that) was indicating a buried problem that needed to be brought to the surface. Had he not done what he did we would have ignored the problem at hand, as it got worse.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Christmas miracle-Inky the tripod

Flashback to several weeks ago:
I stayed up into the wee hours of each morning for about 2 weeks doing Internet research on what to expect when a cat gets a leg amputated. I looked everywhere for information on what to be ready for, what survival rates were for older cats, for hind legs, what recuperation would be like, what life after would be like , general costs and on and on. Being terribly sensitive to pain, suffering & anthropomorphism I knew I had to brace myself against  the aspect that would trigger that-I looked for visuals so I would have some idea of what amputation might look like. I wanted to avoid crying  at the vets during that first post op visit  & visual reference took the sting out of that sight. 
In the end  I found bits and pieces that could be put together to form and idea  but no real , informative tell all. I took what I found and added it up to what sounded like good odds. Since euthanasia was the only other option , good odds were better than none. 
I would have had a harder time had this been my cat. I would have been heart broken, heart sick and worried in a way that one is not when you are lucky enough to be once removed. I simply did the research and passed on the info. & my parents did the hard part. The decision making. 
At that moment when you go for it, pass that point of no return, you place your faith in the vet and God and in all that you have read. You walk out the door and wait for a phone call that says the operation is over and then the next step begins. You summon up more faith and face the new reality. A missing leg. A line of sewn together flesh , blood, the smell that instantly revives all old memories of sick and dying pets. You will yourself to look past all that, think past all that & focus on the face, the eyes, what remains , is familiar and is whole. 
I began praying again like I had not in many years. Partly you pray that you did the right thing and that this current, present suffering will lead to a new life not a slow death. I looked for that light we all search for when in such tunnels. The landmarks appear and you cling to them. He eats. He sleeps. He responds to us with love and relief not fear and pain. 
Each night I thanked God for the good as I tallied the worrisome. Still bleeding. But the articles said that would happen , you reason with yourself, glad some other poor soul went before you to lead the way. 
The stitches are not yet out but the radar collar that protected them came off today. We can now look at the bare patch, where the leg was and not cringe with sympathetic pain that can be unbearable if you let it. The world still turns upside down every now and again: You realize you can not judge if he is gaining weight as the  lost leg  equals lost weight . How much does a leg weigh anyway...I do not want to know. 
The last 2 nights I  have felt the turning of a corner. Is he out of the woods yet? He seems not just to be improving but returning to "normal" -as normal as losing a limb will ever be. And we all marvel at one sight-turned over onto his healing wound he looks like his old self, as if his lost leg is there-hiding underneath. He looks whole, for a moment. 
I would not ever wish this one anyone. I would love to pretend we live in a world where animals do not get hurt intentionally or accidentally, requiring amputation. But this will happen to someone else's beloved pet and all I can say is what those articles did say: you will be amazed/ they will recover/ this is survivable and preferable to that other option. 
It seems many chose euthanasia when faced with amputation. I understand. One vet actually wrote an open letter hoping to encourage people to take that leap of faith. It is one of the things that lingers on my mind as all of this fades. You can read it here
Other things I bookmarked on those cold dark nights: 
Basic information  that advises well when deciding to attempt saving the limb first. 
An option for those heavy and cumbersome radar dishes. 
First person account. Another one with solid advice mixed in. An upbeat version here
Some evidence you'll want to convince you. 
More evidence and some after care info. 
Just stacking the deck with this. And this
Web sites for handicapped dogs and cats. There is more info. out there on tripod dogs than cats & while the process is not necessarily transferable , reading the basic info. can be helpful and enlightening. Maybe one day someone will , sadly, find themselves in our shoes. I hope this helps you to make wise decisions that are hard. I hope some of the above serves to light the way & give hope and faith. 

Friday, December 4, 2009

Welcome home Inky!

Inky was sprung from the vets today! He seemed very happy about this until we got out the front door . The cooler fall air hit and the rush of cars passing by unnerved him. Once home I lifted him out of his cat carrier and he began to pur non-stop. Obviously happy to be HOME he went into hyper mode trying to walk all over the place. It is not easy to watch him get up or sit down right now. HIs remaining hind leg does all the work. Since surgery required removal of  some hair you can unfortunately see the bones and muscles at work. Amazing in some sense but also a reminder of the loss of that 4th leg, so taken for granted. Mom calmed him down and he ate well and then it was time to put up the baby gate and let him get some rest. Except that Inky's eyes stayed wide open. 
Stitches might come out on Monday! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

INKY update

Inky had his right hind leg amputated on Monday and is recuperating at the vets. We saw him Tuesday and he looked O.K. - I had done alot of research on the internet so I would know what to expect and so as not to be too shocked. There probably won't be any photos to post for a few weeks. Once his hair grows in and he has had time to relearn how to walk, jump, run and live on three legs I'll take some shots. But right now it is all too raw. And he is not out of the woods yet. Fingers crossed.