Monday, November 02, 2009

When Nebulous (my 25 year old cat) broke her arm

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This happened on a very stressful weekend, Saturday August 15th 2009. It was the beginning of a fortnight full of bad news.

On that Saturday, Süheyla was out working and I was at home, trying to clean up because the owners of our house were coming on the Sunday. It was such a windy day; I was taking paper rubbish out and Nebulous tried to follow me. The wind slammed the door on her arm and she screeched.

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When I turned around, she was twitching her arm, trying to lick it. I swore loudly and started to panic. It quickly became obvious from Neb's movement that it was serious. Talya was there and calmed me down. We rang the emergency vet and took a taxi there.

The X-rays clearly showed both bones in her foreleg snapped. The vet seemed such a hard woman. She was outlining the options (including putting her down) and kept reiterating that Neb was so old (25) and could die from the shock, pain, anaesthetic, infection.. and that her bones might not heal at all. After a while I asked her "Are you suggesting we put Nebulous down?" I was feeling pressured to make an awful decision. At this, the vet huffed up and became visibly annoyed. "I am not suggesting that - just trying to make sure you understand there are so many risks". She didn't seem so hard after that.

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They put a heavy splint on her leg and wrapped it in a light synthetic substance that set a bit like plaster. Six weeks she would have it on before her leg was to be reviewed.

For six weeks after breaking her arm, Nebulous walked around with this heavy splint. It was so bulky and heavy that she literally dragged her arm between her back legs as she walked.

Can you just
pat me now? Please?

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Somehow it didn't stop her from climbing up (and down) from our bed and couch. This is one tough cat! She even ventured outside a couple of times. I was horrified when I came home one day to find her peering up at me from the porch.

I could tell she was uncomfortable though - she couldn't even keep it clear when she went to the litter. Frequently we cleaned her splint as best we could. I tried out various things to wrap around it: a plastic bag fastened with rubber bands or sticky tape didn't work; glad wrap was a really terrible idea - try getting a cat to sit still while you do that! Eventually we settled on socks, changed almost every day. Süheyla's suggestion (which came too late) was to use a condom! Not sure how I was going to explain that to the vet (or chemist).

She needed lots of pats during this time..

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After the six weeks were up, the vet removed the splint and X-rayed her leg again. The bones were still broken - no healing whatsoever! I felt so bad for her, trying to imagine what her options were.

Amputation.. putting her down.. or put a metal plate in her arm to hold the bones together. This is what we did.

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Her leg was so tender when she first came home. She was purring a lot and I couldn't bear to touch her for fear of bumping her leg. It freaks me out that her leg is still broken, just held together.

Nebulous tried to sleep without disturbing her still broken arm, after the vet put a plate in to hold the bones together.

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This was a very uncomfortable week for her and I was (still am) cringing each time I watch her walk on that broken leg

She seems much better now. She walks ok, no running anymore. And she still climbs up and down from the bed, but very slowly and carefully. If she sees me on the bed, she will miaow patiently until I pick her up and drape her over my chest, where she can pur and, well, dribble.

I am glad she can still do that.

Update. Friday 5th of August, 2010. This is what happened when we took Nebulous to the vet to have an ingrown nail cut on her bad arm: Paid the Cost to be the Boss.