A couple of years ago, we learned that our neighbors were feeding a bunch of feral cats in their backyard. We offered to help them catch the cats and have them neutered so they wouldn’t keep having litter after litter of kittens. That exercise was successful, for a couple of different reasons. We did end up catching and fixing 6 cats that weekend, and we also caught one cat they had seen limping. Sam was really lucky we found him that weekend. Sam had 3 injured limbs, but even after his wounds were cleaned up by the vet, they didn’t seem to be healing. He had almost no red blood cells, so not only could his wounds not heal but he was on the verge of death. He was given blood transfusions, but that didn’t help. Our vet, who is an amazing vet, took a chance that maybe Sam had a very rare blood disorder that prevented his body from retaining red blood cells. She began to treat him for the disorder and he immediately began to get better!
After spending a few weeks at the vet, Sam was brought to the Conservatory where he was kept in his own room. He needed medication twice daily, but he was so afraid of people that getting him to take the medications was quite a challenge for everyone involved. For a while, we were able to give him the pills in canned food. Then he decided he wouldn’t go for that anymore. We tried putting the pill in pill pockets but we were unable to get him to eat them. We finally resorted to the pill popper. When we came into his room when it was time for his meds, he would hiss as we approached him. (He never tried to bite– he wasn’t aggressive at all– just scared almost to death!) We would try to take the opportunity when he hissed to poke the pill popper inside his mouth. Sometimes it worked, sometimes we lost the pill underneath him somewhere and were afraid to reach for it for fear of getting scratched. There were some nights that it took 2 people about half an hour to get the pill into poor little Sam. And for a cat who didn’t want you near him at all, there were nights when it got quite frustrating.
After Sam had been here with us for a couple of weeks, his wounds had healed and there was evidence that he moved around the room to eat and use the litter box, we only ever saw him cowering in the corner. We never saw him walk so we didn’t know if he was using all four limbs well. We set up a live-feed video camera so we could see if he was limping. Once we were finally able to see him walk across the room, it was evident that he was only using three of his limbs, putting no weight at all on one of his front legs. Back to the vet we would go, but picking up Sam was not an easy thing. We didn’t want to hurt him and we didn’t want to have to chase him around the room, especially since he had one injured limb! We adopted the vet’s technique of trying to put a blanket over him to pick him up. That worked pretty well, except as soon as we got his feet off the ground, he peed and pooped all over the place. So, a bit dirtier than we had expected to be, off to the vet we went.
The limb was not broken, but it clearly wasn’t functional, so we took Sam to Carolina Veterinary Specialists where they set him up with a special splint to immobilize his wrist ligament so it could heal. We then took him to Animal Medical Hospital every week for 6 weeks to have his wrist rewrapped. The blanket method for catching Sam to put him in the cat carrier worked the first few times, but he continued to pee and poop every time we picked him up. As time went on and Sam was feeling better and better, it got to be a chase around the room, with pee all over him, all over me, all over the room. But, after 6 weeks of this, his wrist had healed up perfectly.
As all of this was going on, we tried to pet Sam and tried to get him to play, but he didn’t seem to know how. We put all kinds of toys in his room, but none of them ever moved. After four of five months, finally, when we gently rubbed his cheek and forehead, he would purr. After his 6 months of twice daily meds were completed, we thought maybe if we let Sam out of his room to interact with the rest of the cats, they would show him how to play. He would see them cuddling with us and learn that people weren’t really all that scary.
When we let Sam out of his room, he showed us immediately that he loved other cats! Even if they hissed or spit at him, he didn’t mind. He was very tolerant of being smacked by them and just wanted the company of other cats. He loves nothing more than to snuggle up with other cats– if they will only let him! He has learned to play and has even warmed up to people. He will flop down, roll over, and expose his belly for a big belly rub. He has turned into a real cuddle-kitty and has even learned to purr!
#catcare #catmeds #feralcats