Thursday, October 23, 2008

I think I need some TLC

(Before photo-TLC on left hanging out in Mom's office)
I will warn you now, if you have a weak stomach you may want to just leave now and spare yourself the heartbreak and pain. OK, if you didn't leave, consider yourself warned.
I have told the story before of the wild events that usually lead to animals coming to live at my home (ok-Zoo is a better word). TLC(short for three legged cat) came to live with us last summer when we discovered him and his litter mates living with Mom in the backyard. We couldn't view too closely for several weeks as Mom kept relocating them if we did. When we finally got a good look, we discovered that this one only had a partial back leg, but walked fine etc. Princess wanted to adopt him (famous last words like-but I will take care of him-NEVER happens). I was concerned as I become very easily attached to this kind of pitiful critter, so we took him to the vet for a full exam to be sure the poor little boy didn't have additional major anomalies that would cut his life short. Long story short, he was an otherwise healthy kitten. The vet was pretty certain that in fact, he was not born like this (right rear leg intact until about mid shin area then missing the rest), but had likely had some sort of trauma right after birth. He was sure somehow the leg had been "chewed off" by another animal. See, told you you may not want to hang out for this post. Anyway, we knew the likely father was a VERY mean black cat known to haunt our neighborhood, and Mom was another stray that showed up every once in awhile, but was totally sweet and people/animal friendly. Mom was also fiercely protecting these kittens so we guessed Dad may have done this at some point. ANYWAY, he got around just fine etc, but the vet did say we should leave it for now, but the potential for additional amputation in the future was there if he developed trouble given the length of the leg.
Well, last Thursday I was in the kitchen surrounded by the herd who all think a human in the kitchen must mean food. TLC is very affectionate and rubs the leg of anyone standing still. I looked down and initally thought he had a bit of food or something stuck to his fur on his peg leg. Closer inspection revealed that in fact the bone was protruding through the pad that had developed on the end of his leg. Placed a frantic call to the vet, only to learn all the vets were out of office, but to come in the next am unless we wanted to go to the emergency vet. Now, our vet knows our animals inside and out, the emergency vet here is relatively useless as we learned in the past. So, Friday we went to see our vet and he felt the surgery needed to be done. He scheduled him for Monday with instructions to continue pulling the free skin over the exposed bone as needed in the mean time as we have been doing. So, the surgery went well, but he had to spend the night in the office to protect him mostly from the rest of the zoo and for medication. When we picked him up, they hadn't tried to walk him yet so that was left to us.
Good news is, the minute we opened the cage he ran across the room on three legs without any trouble at all. Doesn't even miss it as long as he goes fairly quickly, more difficult if he tries to walk slowly. But goodness, the most pathetic soul you will ever see.

TLC with his Mr. Conehead impression. Let's just say he is NOT happy with his new accesory!

TLC now. I told you not to look if you have a weak stomach! They had to remove the entire leg into the hip joint which leaves and incredible looking scar. He has massive sutures and still has extensive swelling from it as you can see.

Callaway on right, TLC on left.

Callaway, "Seriously Dude! What the heck did Mom buy you that ugly hat for?"
TLC, "Hat! Ancient torture device! Now, be a pal and pull this thing off will ya?"
Callaway, "Not on your life! Mom will make me wear it and shove that nasty liquid medicine down my throat for even thinking about it. You are on your own buddy!"
So, the poor baby is beside himself. We were given pain meds to give him along with antibiotics and he must wear the collar for 2 weeks until the sutures are removed. Pretty sure that ordeal will look a bit like Edward Scissorhands, but I personally plan to refuse to participate in that little party. Instead I get the pleasure of trying to shove the nasty, sticky medicine down his throat! Let me tell you, it TASTES terrible!! How would I know you ask? Taking kitty drugs? No sir, I learned the hard way during the first dose upon arrival to the house, that unless you literally shoot the dose from the syringe into his little throat, the stuff will come flying back at you at the speed of light-followed by violent head flinging that rains droplets of the stuff EVERYWHERE. Yeah, lesson one-don't drop your jaw open while watching your cat have the human equivalent of a two year old temper tantrum or you WILL not only have it on your face, eyes, hair, walls, ceiling, etc, but the crap will end up in your big ol' mouth! It not only looks bad, it tastes bad too.
Needless to say, it has been a full time job the last few days trying to keep him calm, scratch where he can't itch, keeping him from getting his incision dirty, etc. He MUST sleep next to me on the bed, so I mainly get a few minutes sleep at a time before he jumps up startled. Just don't want him to freak out and fall off the bed. It is worse than taking care of sick kids as they can't even tell you what is wrong and want you to make it better.
So what is the price for being the ultimate sucker for animals you ask?
Price for Surgical amputation of leg=$600 (vet gave us a discount out of pitty for the stray guy)
Emotional price of caring for a "special kitty"=no sleep for two days now, medicine in my eyes and mouth, sacrifice life to become a human scratching post, countless scratches and such all over my body
Complete and total love from a animal who would have otherwise not have lived=Priceless.
So, if you don't hear from me for awhile, just know I'm a little tied up right now.