Mr. T

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I haven’t posted lately because we’ve had limited cell service, but Tag, or Mr. T as I call him, is doing great!  I struggled with learning how to pick him up for a bit, but he’s allowing me to hold him way more often then he ever did before the surgery.  This just tells me that he was in pain prior to the surgery and probably was for years!  I hate that I didn’t suggest amputation years ago!  Our vets always said he was fine unless it caused him pain, but I’m beginning to think that Mr. T’s spicy attitude over the years may have been due to pain and not necessarily a personality issue!

 

Besides the fact that Mr. T was born footless, he also has a shortened urethra and kitty IBS.  About five years ago we took Tag to the vet after he was meowing in the litter box and producing only small amounts of urine.  The x-ray’s showed a shortened urethra which our vet said he had never even seen before.  Tag had a UTI and his shortened urethra was inflamed. There were no signs of crystals or blockage, so the initial treatment option was antibiotics.  Two weeks of antibiotics cleared the infection and Mr. T has had no other urinary issues. New x-rays showed the inflammation was gone allowing his urine to flow more freely.  We know its something we need to consistently watch and we hope it was a one time infection that just happened to lead to a new discovery about Mr. T’s deformities.

Tag has also struggled with chronic diarrhea and was diagnosed with possible kitty IBS a few years ago.  He was treated with antibiotics again and we changed his food protein source and moved to grain free food.  We’ve adjusted brands and protein sources three times and have found that he is best on salmon based food.  His coat is much softer and silkier, and his stool habits have transformed for the better.

Mr. T is a resilient kitty and he’s been through a ton over the past seven years since my Dad died. Lately he has been much sweeter and needier of my attention and I welcome it.  I always wanted him to be a cuddlier kitty.  I hope his sweetness holds out even after he’s fully healed!


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Getting Back to Normal

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Tag is so active lately I’ve had to limit his activities!  I’ve added boxes and steps so he can get to his favorite windows.   There was a time when he would look at me for help with getting to a higher location, but now he just does it himself!  I feel like he’s doing too much, so I intercept quite a bit to help him out, but he struggles to get loose and just keeps on moving!   I don’t blame him for wanting his freedom, this guy has been in cat quarantine for almost three months!

When we first noticed the fistula on his stump leg, the vet we saw recommended he be quarantined for two weeks to let antibiotics do their work.  We had a larger dog kennel that we weren’t using and it became Tag’s temporary home.  At the two week recheck the infection was gone, but the wound wasn’t healed.  The other pets wanted to get to his leg to sniff and lick, so Tag became stuck in full time quarantine unless I was with him to monitor his movements.  Two weeks quarantine turned into two months. Surprisingly, Tag adjusted well to kennel life.  I still use it to keep him safe when we aren’t around and at night when I can’t know when Comet might be stalking him.  Tag actually chooses to sleep in his kennel even when he doesn’t need to.  He has a little cave of his own for protection and rest.

We are at Day 18 now and like I mentioned, this old man just wants to run, jump, play and pounce.  I saw him bow stretch yesterday for the first time and he spent about an hour playing in some cardboard boxes.  He’s also been getting free time to sleep in our bed during the day.  He really missed that bed! His incision is still visible because the hair hasn’t grown back yet, but it’s clean and almost completely healed. He never licks or chews on the area.  Maybe he’s been so used to having a bum leg that it actually feels better now!

I’m completely surprised at how active he’s decided to be.  I really think his recovery is much easier than most kitties, after all he’s always been a Tripawd and he knows how to move around like one.  I attached a a pic of Tag drinking from our elevated dog water bowl.  He’s always preferred to drink this way, even though we also have a two other water dishes at floor level.  It’s not noticeable in this picture, but his left back foot is pointed extremely outward. When he stands for more than a few moments the left foot always points in this direction.   It’s an adjustment that has happened over time and is now permanent.   

Day 14

Peaceful stretches

We are post-op day 14 and Tag seems almost like the little guy I once knew!  I’m still keeping a close eye on him so that he doesn’t do things he shouldn’t and I can tell he is ready to be fully healed.  He keeps trying to outrun me!  He’s always been a runner, even before the amputation and he’s surprisingly fast for a three-legged cat!

He doesn’t appear to be in any pain that I can tell.  I read a post about the ear and grimace for determining pain in cats, and he has zero signs of pain today.  I know cats are great at hiding it, but this guy seems to be back to doing what he wants, at least when I let him.  I still keep him separated from  Comet at night and when we aren’t home.  Comet has always been a little rough with him and she is dying to get near him.  So far there haven’t been any scuffles, but I know it’s coming at some point.

Mom, Dad and Tag

Tag in August 2020 with Abby, our 13 year old Lab

Tag has been in my life for almost 13 year now.   He was just 12 weeks when I saw him up for adoption at a local pet food store.  After seeing this little footless ball of fur, I knew I had to find a way to get this guy a good home.  I had five indoor cats at the time and couldn’t add in another.  Especially a three legged kitten who would be fighting for territory with my five kitties.   I called my parents who immediately said no.  They were nearing retirement years and after 30 plus years of multiple cats in the home, they needed a break.  Later that day I mentioned the three legged cat to a friend who promptly ran out to adopt him that night.

After a few days my friend realized that her allergies were unmanageable and she needed to find a place for this guy to live.  Knowing he couldn’t live with me, I hit up the next best thing…my parents.  Over the years my parents had a bit of a joke about me telling lies about animals I would bring home.  As a child and teenager I would beg to keep stray kittens and cats, coming up with all kinds of stories about where these kitties came from.  Sometimes I told the truth, other times I surely embellished.  My parents would always initially say no to adding any new animals to our home.  We always had at least one cat in our home growing up, but now my parents had a completely empty nest.   I knew this would be a tough sell, but I had to try with my parents again.

When I told my mom about the cat, I made sure to mention that he was black and had long hair.  She was always infatuated with long haired kitties, and her favorite cat Pooka, was a stray we found when he was also just about 12 weeks old.  I was in 2nd grade back then, but I remember her love for Pooka.  He was shy and loved to cuddle.  He was floppy and easy to love with the sweetest personality I’ve ever seen in a cat. He was tolerant of everything and everyone.  I hoped that bringing this up when I mentioned a footless cat would get this guy adopted.  My dad was on board from day one, but my mom took a few days.  She decided to think about it.

When I mentioned the kitty to my parents a few days later my mom said, “I think we’ll take him.”  I was ecstatic that she agreed! He was just what they needed and  I didn’t even need to beg!  I brought this nameless guy over to them that evening and they were smitten.   From the moment this cat came into my parents lives, he had them wrapped around his footless leg.

My parents couldn’t stick with a name for this kitty and kept changing their minds.  My dad played and watched golf and so it was natural that he name his cat after a golfer.  Thus, this kitty was named Tag.  My dad went on to build ramps, scratching posts, window perches and sleeping areas for their handicapped cat.  Tag has always had a spunky personality and is truly a curious cat.   He was daring and determined cat who always got what he wanted in their home.  My mom, who NEVER let our cats on tables or counters, would allow Tag to sit on the kitchen table while she drank her morning coffee and did the crosswords.  They both fell  completely and ridiculously in love with Tag.

Three months after Tag moved in, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  She received chemo and radiation over the next year, but passed away a year or so later in 2009.  After my mom died, Tag became my dad’s support system.  Although he also had human support, Tag and his spicy attitude kept my dad busy.  He developed rituals for play and feeding time and they kept each other busy.  I am so grateful that my mom said yes to letting this cat live in their home.  My mom was always a little intuitive and I feel like she knew my dad needed Tag.

A few years later, in 2012, my dad was also diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  He went through chemo and radiation and ultimately passed away almost a year after his original diagnosis.  My dad was concerned about my future and how he could provide for me after his death, but his next thought was always Tag.  He was worried that Tag wouldn’t be comfortable living with me because at this point, I had 4 cats and 3 dogs.   He even tried to convince me that I should find him a home where he could live as a solitary cat.  Tag was always friends with my terrier mix Bruno.  My parents would “babysit” Bruno, and he and Tag were good friends. Tag even met my larger two dogs and was only momentarily stunned by their size. After the initial shock, he was completely fine with being in their presence.  In fact, he sought them out and even spooked them a little!  Our dogs were used to living with cats and for them it was no big deal to see another cat.  Even after showing my dad how well the dogs and Tag got along, he was so worried that Tag would be miserable and left out.

To make this already long story a little shorter, Tag got along with our cats and dogs just fine.  We ended up moving into my parents house after my dad died and Tag was able to keep all of the things my dad built for him, including a rail on the basement steps so that he wouldn’t fall over the edge. Although Tag had to share his space, everyone was able to coexist in peace with only the occasional cat scuffle for territory.

Over the course of the last 7 years, we’ve lost a few of our sweet pets to old age.  We now have a 13 year old Lab, a 9 year old yorkie mix, a 5 year old silver tabby kitty and soon to be 13 year old Tag.  We moved out of the home Tag was used to and now live in a much smaller space in our fifth wheel camper.  I think that Tag adjusted to the move much quicker than the other animals, but he’s always been able to easily adjust.   He’s been through a lot in his short life, but he’s always lived his life with persistence, perseverance and passion.  Add in a dash of serious personality and this kitty isn’t stopping anytime soon!

 

The Case of the Phantom Limb

Tag’s recovery is going well and his incision looks amazing.  I’m so surprised that he never got his cone off, never licked the incision and so far he seems to be able to move around like he did before the surgery.  Other than some pain after moving around a bit, he seems to be happy…….except for the Phantom Limb and The Dreaded Ear Itch.

Before Tag’s amputation, his right ear was a source of itchiness simply because he didn’t have a foot to reach the ear for scratching.  His stump leg wasn’t long enough to touch it, so when the ear itched all he could do was pretend to scratch the itch.  He would sit down, lift that right stump leg and proceed to scratch the itch.  His hip joint would move and his head would turn sideways as if the itch was really being scratched. I would step in and actually scratch the ear for him, but he just continued to act as if the foot was never been missing and scratched harder as if he was doing the work himself.

During the first five days of post-op, I didn’t notice Tag trying to scratch either ear, but now that we are at day nine, he’s started to attempt to scratch both ears. He seems ok when he has to lean on the incision side to use his left leg for scratching the left ear

Tag 2 days post surgery

, and in fact he just started sleeping on the incision leg at times. But when it comes to the right ear, he is still attempting to move that hip joint to use the phantom limb.  It’s a strange sight to see what’s left of the hip/leg to move as if the leg and foot have never been removed.

I still help Tag out by providing a scratch for his ear when he needs it, but I often wonder if the Phantom Limb scratch results in Phantom Ear Itch relief.   Since he can’t tell me, I guess I’ll never know.