The Fifth Save of Christmas
This has been a rather difficult year for our rescue. For some reason, we have been called upon to care for many more seriously ill or injured cats than in previous years. Beautiful Elsa is one of them. She is a white, golden eyed, declawed, purebred Persian whose rescue story begins with a phone call from one of our shelter friends to one of our volunteers.
A small furry cat, we were told, had been hit by a car. Was there any way our group could take her? The shelter was just not equipped to handle this type of emergency, let alone the long term care this kitty would require. She was obviously severely injured and in a lot of pain, probably had multiple broken bones, and had a large ‘road burn’ wound on her rear leg up to and including her tummy. “We don’t know the status of her eyes as yet because they are completely crusted shut. She is wide awake and very still on her little bed.” After a deep, worried sigh, our volunteer answered, “Yes, I will take her. Please have X rays and lab work done, and I will be there to pick her up”.
There was an instant scramble by the shelter folks to find a local vet who could/would drop everything and X ray this little one, someone else to drop everything and drive little Elsa to that vet and then bring her back. Someone who could handle the IV’s, tubing, positioning, and all that might be needed for a severely injured animal while in transit. Luckily, as happens so often in our rescue community, everyone was willing to “drop everything’ for the chance to save Elsa.
Back at the shelter, the X ray results were both good and bad. Bad, in that Elsa had a fractured pelvis. Good, in that the fracture was not displaced (the bones had not moved), which meant that Elsa had a really good chance of not having nerve damage from the fracture. Also, there were no other broken
bones. Further examination showed that Elsa had severe road burns from being tossed around in the wheel well. The bruising was very deep, and there was some bleeding, but the big question was what was hidden underneath the skin and fur? Road gravel buried deep, or nerve damage from the wound? Finally we discovered the reason Elsa had been hit by the car: both eyes were completely swollen shut, crusty and closed. She had been walking blindly into the traffic.
Since her broken pelvis was not displaced, it was felt that Elsa might be able to avoid surgery if she could be placed on cage rest (just like bed rest for humans), but it would take 6-8 weeks. Could we get her to be still and lie quietly so her tiny body would begin to heal? You might think that surgery would be quicker and better, but remember that when you put in pins to keep bones together, you get dangerously close to nerves. With all of the existing trauma to that little body, the conservative approach seemed wise in the beginning.
Elsa was in such terrible pain that it made eating and using the litterbox impossible. Luckily our volunteer saw the clues right away; she started Else on pain medication that allowed her to be comfortable, rest, sleep, and not move around in agitation. So began the long process of healing. Day by day, our volunteer administered medications, fed Elsa (who had been starving when she arrived in rescue), washed her wounds and her eyes, and tried to keep her comfortable. The weeks slipped by until finally it was time for new X-rays, which showed that there was no movement of the bones and that Elsa was healing! Furthermore, she was able to move her tail, so it seemed there was no nerve damage!!
Or was there? We noticed something new, that Else held her rear leg up under her and would not extend it, even when standing. Were we dealing with a different type of nerve damage? Tests on her toes seemed to say no. Then what was happening? If she did not start moving her leg, the muscles would wither and she might lose the leg.
We had to wait and see. As Else’s pelvis bones grew stronger, she would better able to stand, allowing us to work with her on the leg. Then we’d need to get her to the ophthalmologist to get her eyes treated. Then, then, then. More months went by and as Elsa’s condition improved, we were able to pick her up and hold her and give her the comforting that she needed. Finally, she was transferred to a different volunteer for rehabilitation and long-term care. Under careful eyes she could gain weight, stretch her stiff leg, learn to play, and be socialized and cuddled until she was ready for her permanent home.
Today, beautiful Elsa runs with all the other kitties, plays hard to capture that darn red dot or that feather. She jumps high into the air, using both rear legs, and can jump to the highest table. (Yes, we are working on that!). Her eyes are still “Persian eyes,” so they need cleaning regularly–and she puts up with that indignity only because she gets treats when it’s over!). Her lovely long Persian bunny fur has grown back, and she has gained much-needed weight. She loves sleeping under the covers and playing with her fur friends. Best of all, she should be ready to take care of a new human family sometime in December or January.
There are times when the road ahead can seem just too far to walk, when the chance of a favorable outcome seems too remote to motivate the steps required, but in rescue the cats in our care remind us each day of how much they depend on us, and our donors remind us that we are not alone in our efforts. Elsa and all her friends at Purebreds Plus thank you so much for the role you played in giving her life back to her.