I am so so so thrilled. It’s a bit premature to fully celebrate, but the news at our visit today was more than I had hoped for!
The neurologist disagreed with my primary vet, and is quite certain that Feta has “deep pain” and sensation in her weirdly-stiff remaining back leg. We had x-rays taken of the spine and leg to see if there were any skeletal problems interfering with normal leg function – e.g., if the leg had broken and healed badly in the past, or something had calcified or grown poorly and was interfering with the joint, or if there was a problem with her spine.
Bad news: in addition to a very slight heart murmur, she does have a disc issue in her lower spine, in the lumbar region, I believe between the 4th and 5th vertebrae. (Ironically, this is very similar to the issue my dog has, which made me promise to myself, “My next pet will have no pre-existing complications or health problems!” So much for that.) This is probably a result of being hit by a car, or whatever it was that caused her initial injury. This may be be causing some of her pain and interfering with her leg function as well as whatever is going on in the stifle joint area, but the neurologist thinks the problem is primarily muscular, which is GREAT news because it means it can be improved with time, patience, exercise, and therapy.
Our primary goal right now is loosening up the muscles and getting them to relax enough to get more movement out of the leg. More details on how we will do this in a later post.
For now, I am going to go cry a few more tears of relief and apologize to Feta for starving her, carting her into Manhattan (big thumbs up for Dr. Williams Blue Pearl, by the way!), letting people poke her and stick her with stuff, doping her up, taking pictures of her bones, and then not letting her have dinner for another several hours yet (lest she puke from the sedatives). SORRY-NOT-SORRY, you will be glad of this when you are jumping around like a real tripawd some day (we hope)!
Also, Feta is most likely closer to 2 years old than to 5. But we may never know, and as she is a rather traditional lady, she’s not telling.
Regardless of your political views, I think we can all agree that these past few weeks have been pretty challenging. Add in some major weather all over the country today, and eesh, it’s not been easy.
Thus, I present my prescription for positivity – foster kitties!
Warning: there are lots of pictures and .gifs and youtube vids in this post, so if you don’t like REALLY CUTE KITTENS, turn back now!
I started fostering in April 2016, having never had a cat of my own before and not knowing much about cats in general (except that they have sharp bits and, often, do not suffer fools lightly). Kittens are a great place to start learning to Cat, because they are very small and very forgiving!
Somewhere in the midst of all these kittens I ended up with Feta. She is the first adult cat I’ve been responsible for! Fortunately for me, she is also a good “starter cat,” because she is very forgiving and very communicative. But, I digress. Just because I had Feta doesn’t mean there wasn’t still a need for kitten fosters!
During “kitten season,” which is usually the warm months from around February – October, shelters are typically utterly overwhelmed with homeless kittens. Many need to be bottle fed around the clock, and even those that are weaned are too young and immune-compromised (having not had all their shots yet) to safely be housed at the shelter. Many shelters euthanize orphan kittens that come in too young to eat on their own, because they don’t have the resources to give them the care they need.Those that work to save orphan kittens rely heavily on volunteers to take the young kittens into their homes and care for them until they are old enough to be vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and adopted out (usually around 8-10 weeks). So, that’s why I have had a bunch of kittens in my home (you can see pictures of them, and of Feta, on my Instagram account), and why I love to advocate for kitten fostering!You can do it, too! One of the best ways to get started is to talk to your local shelter to see if they or any group they know need help.
So, with that out of the way! Feta and some of my kittens overlapped. Generally, you want to keep your fosters separated for health concerns, but if they’ve been in foster for a number of weeks and are healthy and at least partially vaccinated, and your resident animals are in good health and also vaccinated, you can do some supervised introductions.
Feta was both interested in and scared of the “newcomers” at first, but then warmed up to them fairly well. I think her mobility problems make her a little extra shy and insecure, but she seems to enjoy at least the idea of kitten friends!
I fostered these floofy felines for a week while their primary foster was traveling:
My next litter was 2 little tabby girls.
I was keeping the kittens in my bedroom and Feta downstairs, but one day (after watching me bring up the kitten food, no doubt) Feta decided to follow me up and bust through the not-very-secure-closing door.
Watching them meet was absolutely hilarious – they were all terrified of each other and attempting to act all fierce, which of course none of them is. Poofy kittens vs. 2.5 legged cat is not exactly a violent battle, but it is ferociously cute!
The kittens, having never seen an adult cat before, were completely taken aback.
However, they soon made friends!
“I thinks I want to play with you, Large Scary Cat!” “Um…. Okay, I play with you, Kitten! …I think??”
Eventually as they got more comfortable with each other, they seemed to have a lot of fun playing together! They were still very closely supervised – both praised for good cat manners and gently corrected/redirected if they got too rough – but all was generally peace and harmony and really insufferable cuteness 😀
So, Feta proved her cat-compatibility (com-cat-ibility?) with foster kittens quite well, and may be allowed to meet more in the future 🙂 (After appropriate quarantine, with careful supervision, etc.!)
Feta goes to a neurologist tomorrow, so we will likely have a more serious update soon, but in the meantime I leave you with my favorite .gif ever of my cute little tabby fosters 🙂 Kitten season is starting as we speak – time for me to ready the kitten supplies (and the camera)!!! Will any of our other fur-friends be helping their humans foster this season?
We have been religiously working on our kitty physical therapy exercises, but we have seen almost no improvement in even her assisted “walking”:
So, as soon as I could after adopting her, I carted Feta and her dog-brother Rascal into Rascal’s vet, who specializes in orthopedic issues and rehabilitation, for a full evaluation.
I was hoping our vet would examine Feta, recommend some different exercises (swimming?) and we’d be on our way. But no such luck!
I of course began by telling them about the initial PT visit and the exercises we’ve been working on. I also sent them the videos we have of her movement and changes over the last several months.
Instead of advising continued PT, the vet(s, since two were consulted) strongly suspect that funky back leg is paralyzed, and they are not convinced she has “deep pain” sensation in the leg/foot. (This is a bad thing.) They said that continued physical therapy was unlikely to produce any results (as we suspected, since it’s been a month with almost no progress) because of underlying nerve problems. They recommended either just leaving her as is, since she seems happy enough, trying a wheelchair, and/or taking her to a veterinary neurologist.
Well, leaving her as-is is not an option, since if anything she seems to be growing increasingly uncomfortable, and I’d really, really, really rather keep her as a “tripawd” than turn her into a “bipawd”! Ack! So, even though it’s a bit of a moonshot, we’re going ahead and booking her a visit with a veterinary neurologist at a specialty clinic in NYC.
Further evidence that there’s no such thing as a “free pet”!
I know, I know, few people are surprised. But after months working with this sweet girl and becoming her friend, and with nobody expressing interest in adopting a 2.5-legged cat who has trouble with the litterbox and is sure to need intensive follow-up care, I opted to bite the bullet, pull out my checkbook, and take her home (and to my orthopedic-specialist vet).
Yay, Feta! Now you will get extra-special veterinary poking and prodding and whatever you need to get you back in action like the naughty kitty you really want to be!
I’ve been so amazed and delighted by how many people (other than me) are rooting for Feta. Thank you, everyone, for your kind words and encouragement!
We’re plugging away at our leg rubs and stretches, but I thought I’d use this post to show a little more about Feta herself, the cat behind the weird missing/messed-up legs.
First, as I’ve mentioned before, she is an incorrigible glutton and an utterly shameless scavenger. Even with a cone on!!!
She tries to steal my food.
She tries to steal the dog’s food – even if she has to limp her way into his pen to get it!
Not exactly a “speedy getaway,” but…
She even steals her own food – though, being a cat, she probably has limited understanding of “future selves” and the food she is taking from them.
She is also remarkably patient and kind – while I am tempted to add, “for a cat,” she is much, much more forgiving than my dog, so I don’t want to be species-ist in my description! In general, she loves people, and is willing to put up with a lot of questionable human behaviors.
For example, Halloween costumes.
Also, she has many handy uses around the house. Who needs Pillow when you can have Cat?
However, despite her peculiarities and unusually-gentle temperament, she is still very much a Cat, and enjoys the traditional passtimes of her people.
For example, boxes.
Climbing on things. (Also: being picky.)
Catnip!!!! And toys with catnip!!!! And more catnip!!!!! Anything with catnip!!!!!!
Toilet paper roll rings have been in the top 3 favorite toys of every single foster I’ve had, and Feta is no exception. Keeping it classy over here.
And, though she’s generally pretty lazy, she does – like most young cats – enjoy a good round of whappy-bitey-kicks with a good wand toy.
So, there you have it. A little peek into the (not actually very) secret life of Feta Cat. Tripawds – they’re just like us!! Watch out for future posts to get more physical therapy updates, a post on Feta’s super-duper-derpy faces, and how Feta gets along with other furry friends (including bonus cute kitten videos)!