Only a couple of weeks ago, I dropped in to see a friend’s cat. He was limping fairly badly, and had been for a couple of days. I had removed his undercarriage only a few weeks before this visit, as he had started spraying everything with stinky tomcat wee. He is a big black, friendly fella, loves to get up on the roof and roam around. His mum let me in, and then went to find him.
“He came in the other morning limping, and it hasn’t gotten any better,” she told me.
I caught him up, gently, and had a good feel of his foot – nothing, all up the leg, palpating, flexing the joints, testing for pain. Finally I got up to his hip. It felt a bit funny. Was there a hint of a crunch there? And it didn’t seem like the hip joint was working properly, but then again, he wasn’t really showing any signs of pain, either.
“I’m not sure what’s going on here,” I said. “He may have a broken bone in there, but he really doesn’t seem painful enough. the only way to find out is x-rays, so I’d keep him inside for a couple of days, and if he doesn’t improve, you’ll need to take him to the veterinary hospital.”
About 1o days later I got a worried phone call.
“This damn cat! He’s busted his stitches, can you come and check them out? I took him into the vet two days after you saw him, because he just wasn’t improving. She felt his leg like you did, didn’t think much was wrong, and came out amazed when she saw the pictures – he broke the head of his femur, and had to have an operation to remove the ball bit, I think she called it a femoral head excision? And now the wounds all open and gaping, and I feel sick when I look at it!”
After I arrived, the full story emerged. They had felt sorry for him being locked up for so long, so they let him out, he got on the roof, and then when he jumped off, he tore the wound open. It wasn’t too bad, except he’d been licking and licking it, so it was all red and raw.
“I don’t want to sedate him unless we really need to, so I’ll give you a bucket for his head, to stop him reaching around and licking the wound. It should scab up and heal just fine then.”
I tied the elizabethan collar on, and he went backwards around the room for a bit before looking at me very reproachfully. The next day, he had managed to find a way to get around the edge of the collar and start licking at it again, with the added problem of digging the plastic rim into the wound. I couldn’t get there straight away, so I got them to make the rim of the collar longer, so he couldn’t reach around it any more.
The next day I pulled up, and we went in to have a look. The wound wasn’t too bad, but I had to stitch it up, because it was giving his mum the heeby jeebys! So- surrounded by his mum and three very quiet, watchful, and curious small children, I sedated hi. After about 5 minutes he gently collapsed into a relaxed black puddle.
“Ok kids – I’m going to use this hypodermic needle. I’ll push it right through, feed the suture up through the middle, down the hole. Then when I pull the needle back out, the thread is right through, waiting for me to tie the knot. The needle hurts a bit, but it would sting even more to put local anaesthetic in there.”
I tied off three neat knots, and gave him the reversal injection. Only 10 minutes later he was sitting up, wobbly, and woebegone, cone firmly attached to his head. He really, really didn’t like the collar much at all, poor fellow.
Then I had nice cuppa, and a good old chinwag, before getting in the van, and rolling all the way home!