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Hello, my fellow feline-loving friends,

For those who are understandably not interested in the longwinded version of my tale, please skip to the end for a summary. Otherwise, please read on!

Last September, I took in Socks, an incredibly adorable and playful female orange tabby. She was a stray cat who happened to wander onto my doorstep, and the instant I saw her, I scooped her up. For those of you who may be seeing this as an abduction, I hope you reconsider -- I currently live in Bangalore, India, where the amount of stray dogs and cats is almost nauseating. Abduction or not, I saved this lady from a life of hardship, and there's no convincing me otherwise.

At the time of her arrival on my stoop, Socks was between a month or two old. She has since then grown into quite a lioness, and, about two weeks ago, experienced her first encounter with some heat, during which she turned into a feline mop, aimlessly crawling around the floor mewing, mewing, mewing like I had only ever heard from faceless cats cavorting in the back alleys of Los Angeles or New York City. She certainly kept my feet warm, and well adorned with scars and scratches alike.

Obviously, it was time to get her spayed. My veterinarian had a good reputation amongst friends, and also good facilities -- a clean waiting room and clean consult room, with two or three well-mannered and careful helpers. I cannot stress how important clean facilities are here in India, especially since nothing is going to be perfect. I've seen al fresco huts with dirt floors pass as hospitals -- for humans. I'd damned if I left my lovely cat in a similar environment. During all of our trips to the vet prior to the surgery, I'd never had a bad experience.

And so, the surgery.

I dropped Socks off around 9AM last Saturday, January 28th, and picked her up later in the day. She was knocked out from the anesthesia, sleeping with her eyes open, and the little tip of her pink tongue hanging out of her mouth. The vet was kind enough to show me her removed uterus and ovaries -- maybe he knew I was the kind of guy who kept my wisdom teeth after I had them plucked.

He gave me the low down before I left:

Socks was in a gown that tied around her back. She's stitched up. Give her antibiotics once in the morning, once at night; a drop of painkiller at similar intervals. Keep her stationary, don't let her move around much, no jumping off the refrigerator for sure. Slowly get her back into her diet. If I see any discharge or anything oozing through her wrap, bring her back to change it.

All seemed fine and dandy to me, and so it went for the first few days. She didn't move much. I stayed home with her as much as I could, which was ample. But, by Wednesday, some reddish-brownish discharge started to show through, so I took her back to the vet. While changing her dressing, he showed me the wound.

Between her legs was a tiny incision, maybe an inch or so long, with about four stitches holding it together. Didn't look like anything irregular. However, immediately to the side of it were several additional cuts, almost like lacerations, that looked completely irregular, and were the obvious source of the discharge. Where did they come from? I'm not entirely sure. Were they a result of her moving around too much? Certainly not. She's been either in her cage or in my lap for days.

To move this forward a bit quicker (sorry, I tend to be a bit garrulous), the vet told me that this was all normal, and she was to continue healing. He shot her bum with some more antibiotics, cleaned the wound, squeezed out some discharge, and sent her on home with a brand new mummy dress.

By Friday morning, I was back at the vet. The discharge came back even thicker, and the story from the doc remained the same -- all normal, keep bringing her back, more antibiotics, and here's an e-collar to keep her from licking the stitches (which was happening, but not so very often that it was such a problem. Despite this, the e-collar was ultimately handy to have).

Now, here I am thinking to myself: There isn't a single thing normal about this. While I'm a first time cat owner, my entire family has had multiple cats and dogs, all of which had undergone the knife. Not once in my many years can I ever recall such a surgery becoming so complicated. Furthermore, everyone that prepped me for the surgery mentioned nothing as gruesome or long-lasting as this debacle. Similarly, of all the people I talked to, nobody ever mentioned their cat being wrapped a gown for nearly two weeks. There's no way this is normal, right?

By Sunday, my suspicions were partially confirmed. I was forced to see another vet, as my regular vet was out of town. He looked at Socks's stomach and, while ultimately saying that everything was, sigh, "normal," he did mention that her stitches were too tight, which is what caused the additional tears in the flesh alongside of the incision. Of course, my original vet who made the incision has never mentioned such a mishap.

And so, just this last Monday, I took Socks back to my regular vet -- told him this weekend was ****, that Socks had to see another vet in his absence, and his reaction to all of this and her condition was about the same. Normal. All clear. No cause to worry. And I'm thinking again: No reason to worry other than the fact that my cat's stomach looks like it's been clawed by a wolverine, and is still oozing puddles daily. Three trips to the vet in four days? I can't be that overprotective of a parent.

That was Monday, and it's now Friday evening here (yes, sorry to everyone in the western hemisphere, but my weekend has already begun). For the past few days, I've been changing Socks's bandage and wrap myself (well, with help, admittedly, but not from the vet), and have been trying to keep the wound and the stitches clean. The discharge has died down a bit -- it's at least not seeping through the dressing, but this might be owed to how I am dressing it, however it is still very much oozing -- but once she's down to just the fur and whiskers, the wound itself really just doesn't look any better. I keep asking myself whether or not I should even bother dressing it, or finally let it get some fresh air since it's no longer oozing profusely.

It's by no means full-on bleeding, but it looks about as raw as it did on the first day. And, what's worse, is now the entire area is swollen, like a little balloon inflated beneath the skin. I don't know what that's all about, but it sure doesn't look fun, or painless.

SHORT VERSION:

My cat underwent a spay surgery nearly two weeks ago, and has not healed correctly. My vet tied the stitches too tight, causing small tears to form in the flesh parallel to the incision. As best as I can tell, she has constant discharge from additional wounds, but not the stitches directly. The discharge is brown, or red, or clear.

She is in good spirits, playful, eating regularly. She is not lethargic, unless she's wearing her e-collar, but who wouldn't be? She has not seen the vet in several days, but is scheduled to return on Saturday. In the meantime, I have been cleaning her wound and changing her bandages, however the skin of the incision area and surrounding tears is now inflated and swollen. Other than that, there are no outward signs of infection.

I am fearful that my vet has no idea what is happening, and is wishfully thinking that the situation will improve if I just stay the course.

So, what in the world do I do? Is this actually normal, or at least as "normal" as far as complication goes?

Any advice whatsoever would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Gurry
 

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I'd be worried that the balloon you speak of is a pocket of infection that needs to be drained. That could get really ugly really fast. Best wishes for your poor kitty.:(
 

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I'd be worried that the balloon you speak of is a pocket of infection that needs to be drained. That could get really ugly really fast. Best wishes for your poor kitty.:(
This.

And this doesn't sound good either:
...but it looks about as raw as it did on the first day.
I wouldn't wait until Sunday. I think you should take her to another vet today, or to an ER. I understand that you're trying to see if she gets better by herself, but by your description it doesn't seem to be the case (I read all your post). She must be in pain... I suggest you take her to another vet urgently.

Best of wishes, I hope everything goes well.
 

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I wouldn't wait until Sunday. I think you should take her to another vet today, or to an ER. I understand that you're trying to see if she gets better by herself, but by your description it doesn't seem to be the case (I read all your post). She must be in pain... I suggest you take her to another vet urgently.

Best of wishes, I hope everything goes well.
this. I would be seeking a second opinion at another vet.
 

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That sounds like an abscessed wound to me. I would assume that the "balloon" is a pocket of pus under the skin that will require immediate drainage. If the infection goes systemic, your girl could become extremely (and potentially fatally) ill pretty quickly. Get her to a different vet - one who doesn't have his reputation invested in your cat's "normal" recovery.

Laurie
 

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I understand that you are in India. Are there animal hospitals for large animals where you live? I specify "large" because maybe there are more of those type of hospitals than there are for small animals/pets, and with knowledgeable vets. While they may not know much about cats, surely, they know about infection and how to treat, which to me would be the same in small or large animals. Keep us posted; I agree with everyone--nothing 'normal' about this.
 
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