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Bart's Story

907 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Mitts & Tess
I'll repost this in the Health forum when I have access, but until then, I'll get it out here.
Bartleby came to us when we bought the house. Skinny, infested with fleas, and he totally melted my heart. Already having three cats, it was a hard sell on the husband. But he relented, and we took him in.
This was 8 years ago. The vet estimated his age at the time to be 2-3 years. He fattened up nicely and became a good cat. He's especially patient with my daughters. My three girl cats have since passed away, so Bart's the last. Two of my girls died from diabetes complications, the third was sudden--we assume old age? She showed no symptoms, just died one night.
In any case--back to Bartleby. Last Wednesday he came downstairs limping. I could see the puncture wound in his right hind leg. He didn't come downstairs until late in the evening, so we waited until the next morning to take him in.
They diagnosed a cat bite and put him under briefly to clean the wound properly. He was returned to us that afternoon and his paw was three times its normal size. He was given a heavy duty antibiotic at the vet's and was sent home with more as well as pain meds.
We got through the weekend, he perked up and began walking around. But the foot wouldn't shrink. It was still terribly swollen. Monday morning I call the vet and give him an update. He suggests bringing him in on Thursday for a re-check.
Tuesday. I wake up to Bartleby in my bed. Great, right? He's clearly feeling better. After breakfast, I get a look at his paw. Overnight, the fur fell out and it's a pus-filled mess. Back to the vet. She agrees that it's much worse and suggests it's possibly a snake bite. Hydrotherapy/heavy duty anti-inflammatories/new antibiotics is recommended--I leave him there so they can do that. We discuss amputation at length.
Today I get an update from the vet. He's still not doing much better, but he's also walking around acting like the foot doesn't hurt at all. Vet suggests that there's probably a lot of dead/numb tissue already. And it's just going to spread up his leg. Obviously, we discussed it in more depth than that but good gracious I've already written a novel.
In any case, his leg will be amputated tomorrow. I'm confident this is the right decision. Even though he's twelve, he's relatively healthy and I know he's got at least a few more good years. I don't want to take a chance that the infection spreads to the rest of his body.
So. I'm here to ask--what can I expect? I've read a lot about younger cats, but my boy is older. If anyone has some experience, I'm all ears. Thanks in advance!
I'm really just anxious to get him home and fuss over him. I'm a little scared the incision is going to make me faint though. ;)
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I'm sorry about to hear about Bart! I have no experience, but have read that cats can do just fine on 3 legs.

Hopefully one of the vet techs or more experienced memebers on here can give you some advice.
Ive had experience with a rattle snake bite with a cat. A friend of mine has an older cat that was hit by a car and had its hind leg shattered. They amputated it. She is hoping around doing fine.

Our TNR group got a call from a woman in a town 45 minutes away from us. My friend and I drove down to get him. My friend went ballistic when we heard the woman had left the cat to suffer in her court yard over night. I sent my friend to go get the cat and I went to deal with the woman. I talked her into taking the cat back to recover at her house. Took a lot of convincing. The cat had been coming by her house for two years. I asked her for a dontion to help us with the vets bills. She would only give us $10! Which insenced my friend even more.

On the way to the vet which was right down the hill from her, I asked my friend what should we name him. She said Hamilton, since hes on a ten dollar bill!

The infection was cleaned out and dead tissue cut out. We thought he had a chance to make it. Next day, Saturday, report was good. But something kept nigling me about him. I called the vet and asked if i could take him home over the weekend to keep an eye on him since no one would be at the vet to monitor him. They sent a tec over to open up the clinic and give him to me.

I got him home. Sequestered him in my master bathroom. He started to fail. The poison was reaching his other organs. The infection smell like rancid blood. We drove him out to the vets house and put him down. I get choked up to this day thinking what Hamilton went thru. Im grateful we responded and took him to get help or he would of died an agonizing death in that court yard.

My question is how does the vet know she caught all the poison from traveling thru other parts of your kittys body, before they put your cat thru the trauma of removing the leg? That would be a concern if I was facing this decission. Plus how many amputations has this vet done?

Im typing this with love and concern not criticism. Im just concerned for the out come given the circumstsnces of the poisoning.
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I've never personally had a cat who lost a limb, though I have several friends with tripod cats. The cats get along extremely well with three legs. Since this is a hind leg, you will need to make some adjustments around your house to facilitate Bart's mobility, like building "stairs" around the objects that he likes to get up on (beds, furniture, window sills, etc.). It would also be a good idea to make sure he has a soft landing when jumping down off of those same objects, since now the impact will fall on a single hind leg. So stock up on fluffy area rugs if your floors aren't already carpeted. Lastly, if Bart is carrying any extra weight at all, now is the time to start slowly returning him to a healthy, lean weight. His remaining hind leg, particularly at his age, doesn't need to be carrying around any more extra weight than necessary and may develop arthritis if forced to support extra poundage.

If your vet prescribed Metacam as a post-op pain killer, insist on Buprenex or Tramadol, instead. Metacam has been implicated in the serious illnesses and deaths of a number of cats and is not approved for oral use in cats in the U.S. (though it is often and unfortunately prescribed off-label in that manner). Buprenex or Tramadol are much safer pain drugs for cats.

Bart should recover just fine, and I know you'll give him all the loving support and nursing care that he will need during his recuperation.

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Once they cleaned it more this morning, the punctures are too far apart for a snake bite. It looks as though he got into a fight with another cat who just wouldn't give up that foot. The standing theory now is that maybe it didn't bother him much initially, so he showed no signs of distress. When it finally DID start bothering him, the infection was well set. And for whatever reason, it wouldn't respond to the typical antibiotics. (He's now on antibiotic 3 and cultures have been sent off to make sure we're on the right track)
In any case, the amputation went fine today. I have no idea how many procedures my vet has done, but we've been seeing this practice for five years and I trust their judgement. They did a full blood panel day before yesterday to make sure his kidneys, etc. were in good shape and at my request, they checked his blood sugar to make sure that diabetes wasn't the culprit in the non-healing wound. All of that was perfect.
His incision looks great, nice and clean. He's actually walking around a tiny bit and very alert. He's even used the litter box successfully. I was expecting him to be a little more out of it. As far as his weight goes, he's at 9 pounds right now. So no extra poundage. :)
He's on Buprenex for pain as well as Clavamoxx. they gave him a nice shot of pain killers before he left, so hopefully that will carry him through the worst of it. Honestly I expected him to come home and be very meek and pitiful. His purring and hobbling around has really surprised me. :) And now I'm off to make the Prince some chicken and rice.
Thanks for all your feedback!
P.S. OF COURSE this happens one month after we installed laminate flooring in most of the house. So yes, I'll be investing in some extra throw rugs and ottomans to help him get around.
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Speedy recovery Bart! Hope he is doing well today.
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