I am in a difficult situation looking for advice from those who have seen or experienced something similar.
A few days ago, a young, small cat shows up on my back porch. Looks like a 10 month old kitten. It didn't want to leave and my indoor cat Jasper was freaking out, so I went outside to say hi to the kitty, taking the long way around so as not to risk Jasper running outside. On the way in through my back gate, I noticed it looked like an animal had dug a hole under the fence (I have a fully fenced yard). I approached the kitten, it was meowing at me but then get scared and ran away. It was dragging both back legs (I assume he was the animal who dug under my fence—there's no other way he could've gotten in the yard). He hid in the bushes, but when I brought out food he meowed back and forth with me for a while and then came out to eat. He scarfed it down; he was terribly skinny.
I was able to get an old pet sitter vet tech of mine to come catch him Thursday morning and take him to her clinic. Here is what the vet was able to tell me:
- Looks like he's maybe year old
- FIV negative
- Loaded with hookworms
- Pelvis is broken
- Left hip is displaced
- They are squeezing his toes and he does not respond, so she assumes possible spinal nerve damage
- He has bladder and bowel control. He has bad diarrhea and is 'leaking,' but they are also treating him for a severe hookworm infestation and of course he is stressed and probably has no idea what a litter box is anyway.
- His appetite is very, very good. On the second day he was fairly calm and didn't seem to be in pain. Currently he is on pain meds.
Here is what I am able to tell from my interactions with him the 36 hours he was in my backyard:
- Very, very vocal and especially talkative at the sound of food cans.
- Fearful enough I assume he was a stray/feral and not somebody's pet.
- After a couple feedings, he let me put food directly in front of him and even lightly touch his head (though he wasn't a big fan)
- He could still hunt. I saw him catch a lizard, wander to a sunny spot and eat it.
- When he is moving around, he does use his back right leg the tiniest bit. Both my fiance and I could tell he was able to bend and put weight on it, moving it in something like a walking motion, however it's not very pronounced and unless you're looking closely it's easy to think both legs are lame. But there is still some mobility there and I would assume nerve function to be able to send walking messages to the leg. So the left leg (with displaced hip) looks completely dead, while the right just looks badly injured but still kinda works, just enough to get him around.
- I noticed while he was laying down that he was able to shift his right foot and his tail just a bit.
- There is no way he got into my yard without pulling himself through the hole under my fence. I can only assume he dug that hole, since I have no outdoor animals, therefore he's got some strength and fight in him left to do that much.
- He has enough energy and fight left that while trying to catch him for the vet, we were both literally running across the yard to catch up with him.
The vet is keeping him over the weekend to see if the nerve function improves. She is concerned that he can't feel his back legs and therefore has a serious spinal injury, and that the pelvis may heal in the wrong place. So she is recommending euthanasia since quality of life, even if he recovers, in her opinion won't allow him to jump/climb/etc. and you can't get a wheelchair for a cat (she said it works for dogs but cat's anatomy is different). However, when I google these kind of injuries I see a lot of hopeful stories of cats who recovered with caged rest, surgery, etc. and that if they still have bladder control (which he does) there is hope they can mend. My mother had a farm cat as a child who was accidentally run over with a combine, couldn't walk for a while, and got better after living in a box in the garage for a few weeks.
I am going to try to make an appointment with our local specialist clinic on monday to have a surgeon evaluate him and look at his xrays. In the meantime I wanted to post and see if anyone has experience with this and can lend their thoughts. I am conflicted—a vet who thinks we should put him down, and internet research that says prognosis is good for these injuries if properly managed, with stories of cats who seemed like it was hopeless but then nerve function returned after weeks. I am not sure how to feel about it. The fact that he is a stray is not a concern to me, but I wonder if it's making the vet lean toward euthanasia; I do not mind rescuing an injured animal and believe he has potential to adjust to indoor cat life. The money, up to a certain point, is not a concern either (my fiance spends money on ski trips so I figure saving animals can be my equivalent
). It would not be an inconvenience to me to set up a dog crate on my covered porch, in the shade, and let him rest for a few weeks to heal. I just want to figure out if I can give him a good life, what his chances are, and what the best thing is that I can do for him.