What to do about broken pelvis in stray cat - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 22
What to do about broken pelvis in stray cat

Hi everyone,

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.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-18-2017, 06:05 PM
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Location: Cobourg, Ontario, Canada
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Wow, tough decision. Well, I'm blown away by how he can scoot along the ground to get away and also catch lizards! He has a lot of determination, and he may have had this injury for some time. I've never had a cat with that kind of problem, but this boy seems to be resourceful and it's possible some nerve damage may repair, or not? I think I would give him a chance and keep him for a month or so and really see what kind of quality of life he has. He doesn't seem to be in pain, as he is eating well. It's a plus that he uses the litter box. He might even function better if the 'dead' hind left leg is amputated, so it's not dragging and hindering his movement. If things don't turn out better, or he's going downhill, then the kindest thing is to let him go to the "Rainbow Bridge". Good luck to you both! All the best!

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 12:35 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: SE Asia
Posts: 166
Hi! I would just like to share my story about my cat, Snowy who had experienced nerve damages last year. In a nutshell, Snowy was prescribed medications that were too lethal for him when he had ringworm last year, causing him to lose a lot of weight and lose control of his hind legs somehow. He could hardly walk, keep peeing and pooping outside the litter box and I had to force feed everyday. But things began to turn around after I finally found the right vet who suggested acupuncture to me. Even though I am Asian, I was rather skeptical at first but she told me to just give it a try and recommended an acupuncture vet specialist to me. The results were not apparent immediately. It took about 1 month to see a bit of an improvement, and about 2 months to finally see him walking properly again (took another like 3 months before he could jump again). It's been more than a year now and Snowy has been healthy ever since last July (I still take him for acupuncture sessions once every fortnight now though). I don't know if there is any acupuncture vet specialist in your area, but you might wanna consider giving it a try to help him with the nerve damage. Up till now, my vets still couldn't tell me how Snowy's nerve got damaged in the first place but acupuncture really helped my baby to get his normal life back.
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