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Old 01-11-2013, 03:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Reintroducing disabled kitty

Hello fellow cat lovers. I'm wondering if you'd mind giving me some advice on a problem I sadly have no experience with.

Backstory: My wife and I have 2 cats that are about a year and a half old now. They both grew up together since about the young age of 7 and 5 weeks due to both being rescue cats and being found abandoned. At first we started with Bailey who we fostered at 3 weeks and introduced Hunter later when we noticed that Bailey wasn't getting the social cues needed to become a healthy/well adjusted cat. For the most part it worked wonderfully and they have gotten along. Bailey's behaviour evened out a lot and Hunter took well to being the submissive parter of the pair. With this said, they are polar opposites. Bailey has been the ultimate warrior who can get worked up easily, while Hunter is sweet and gentle unless she has wanted to have a good romp with Bailey. Some times things have gotten carried away and Hunter has ended up hissing and running for cover, but for the most part they have been ok with one another.

Now where the problem began. Over Christmas my wife and I packed up to visit my family in my hometown and we left the cats with my In-laws for a week. Everything went well until the very last day of getting back home. Hunter ended up having a nasty fall off the kitchen counter, hit her knee and broke her leg in the worst possible place. She basically snapped the lower portion of her femur where it attaches to the knee. We were devastated. She had been through a very tough beginning and to go through this was heartbreaking. We were advised by our vet that even with surgery it might not heal properly as they wouldn't easily be able to secure the piece of bone back into place. And at a price tag of 4 thousand dollars we felt obligated in opting for the unfortunate alternative: amputation.

Fastforward a week and everything has gone well. Surgery was a success and Hunter is recouping at the vet clinic. As of right now I'm anticipating the call to pick her up and bring her home. But then what?

My concern is not so much with Hunter's recovery as I think she can get through this and i think i can help her adapt. The concern is with Bailey. Because Bailey has a tendency to be a bit dominanearing, I worry she might have a problem with taking Hunter back into the house. I have heard about keeping the cats separate until you can get each other adjusted to their scents, but with Bailey, she can be a bit unpredictable and she can be extremely persistent. She can also get a bit too aggressive and miss some social cues on when to back off. And now with Hunter having a clear disadvantage I am unsure about how to combat this. They're both great cats, but things have definitely changed and I definitely need some advice on making sure this transition is a healthy one. Is there anything I can try to help make this go smoothly?

Any advice is massively appreciated

Clayton
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
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What I would do, and have done, when returning from a vet visit is bring the kitty home (in a kennel) into a separate room and locking the other cat out. Not for a full separation, but to give you a cahnce to do step #2; scent swapping. Get a large towel, put a few drops of vanilla on it and rub it into the towel all over. Then go rub the towel all over Bailey, the idea is to get her scent on it. Take the Bailey-scented towel and rub Hunter all over with it, then go back and rub Bailey again.

This will help to make both cats smell the same, and also help get the chemical vet-office smell off of Hunter. Cats recognize each other by their smell, so maybe put a bed from home into the carrier when you bring Hunter home to get as much 'home smell' back on her as possible. The vanilla is something my cats seem to find very calming and soothing...plus it's fairly strong to it also helps drown out the hospital smell.

Once both cats smell of each other and vanilla open the door to the room and sprinkle a bunch of treats down so both cats, hopefully, focus on chowing down on the goodies rather than immediately greeting each other. This can also help diffuse tension and puts them in a better mood.

I'm sorry for your poor girl. Other members have tripod kitties and I'm sure they can help you more with how to help a tripod get used to their new situation. I'm sure things will go well with your intro and her acclimatization back into your home. Good luck! Fingers and paws crossed over here
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'd go though the re-introductions again but some animals treat an injured fellow with immense tenderness. When my dog was seriously injured the care taken of her by the cats was amazing. As a down-side, it has also been recognized that some animals have difficulty in adjusting to any body shape that is totally non-symmetrical.
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the advice, libarychick. I hadn't heard about using vanilla before. I'm assuming you mean to use vanilla extract?

And I would say you're right, Arianwen. The first day after we took Hunter to the clinic for an xray Bailey knew she was hurting. From time to time she would go out of her way and lick Hunters head and do a bit of grooming for her. Normally she doesn't do those things and is pretty unaffected. I hope the time apart doesn't change anything.

Thanks you both!!
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:20 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Definitely reintroduce as if they were strangers (as suggested above). I would probably put Hunter in a separate room for a week, or even more while he further heals. He's young so it won't take long. For the most part, animals seem to adjust to losing a leg. This is hopefully a minor setback for him.

My Billy used to play bite my hands and it never bothered me until one day I was bitten by a friend's cat and ended up in the hospital for a week. After I came home everyone wanted to cuddle with me, and Billy play bit. I was SO rattled that I yelled at him (first time ever) and he never play bit me again. Cats can be very in tune with what is happening.
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Old 01-12-2013, 08:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Tripods do amazingly well. Your cat Bailey will not know Hunter when he gets home because he smells of the vet clinic and has smells from the surgery in his body. I would give him time to acclimate to his new three legs by keeping Hunter separated from Bailey. But once he is up and running I would do slow intros.

We rescued a small kitten which had to have its front leg amputated. It had its paw smashed by a pallet at a country club maintenance shed. The kitten was very small and our vet didn't know if shed make it thru the surgery but she did. My friend took her home to help her recover. My friend has 3 adult cats. The kitten did well and was a pistol. Very capable of getting around and up the cat tree, fending for itself with the adult cats. Needless to say she captured my friends heart and she adopted her.
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Old 01-15-2013, 02:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Figured I give an update. Hunter is home and the reintroduction was a success. I did the vanilla towel rub down and gave them some KMR milk that I had left over as a treat. After that, Bailey went over to Hunter and began licking her head. Perfect!! Bailey even later cleaned her bum. She's being very motherly.

Hunter seems to be going ok. Immediately in getting home she began purring. I think she was very happy to know she's back. With that said, not being able to move as well is frustrating her some. I think it's going to take some time.

Thanks again everyone
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hunch View Post
Figured I give an update. Hunter is home and the reintroduction was a success. I did the vanilla towel rub down and gave them some KMR milk that I had left over as a treat. After that, Bailey went over to Hunter and began licking her head. Perfect!! Bailey even later cleaned her bum. She's being very motherly.

Hunter seems to be going ok. Immediately in getting home she began purring. I think she was very happy to know she's back. With that said, not being able to move as well is frustrating her some. I think it's going to take some time.

Thanks again everyone

So glad to hear! Although I didn't comment on the thread because I don't have any experience in this matter, I did read your post and I was hoping to see an update.

So happy for you and your kitties!
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Old 01-16-2013, 12:27 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Hey thanks a lot! Really appreciate it
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