Feta’s Claw Conundrums (and minor PT update)

Tripawds is a user-supported community. Thank you for your support!

Poor Feta Cat just can’t seem to catch a break!

After all of this time working hard at our PT, a bit over a month ago we were confronted with a new challenge: poor Feta had an infected claw. This could have something to do with the claw caps we tried, or may also be due to her habit of biting at her feet (which had been under control, we thought? but perhaps had simply become better hidden).

Whatever the cause, the nail bed was infected, and it was not good. Her toe became extremely swollen and she was no longer able to bear weight on it without severe discomfort. Additionally, the quick of the nail retracted almost all the way, so her claw had to be trimmed down to practically nothing. This is not helpful for traction!

After two rounds of antibiotics over about a month (as well as numerous foot soaks, toe scrubs, and some NSAIDs; not to mention vet bills!!) Feta’s toe was finally back to normal(ish; the claw still needs to grow back out). However, we had to put a stop to our major PT work while she recovered, which set us back significantly. While we were able to maintain her core strength reasonably well, her bum leg is stiffer than ever 🙁

That said, we’re back on track again – more or less – with healed toes and more PT work. In another post I will share some of the videos and exercises that we have been working so hard on. Essentially, we are focusing on “gait training” to teach Feta how to use her bum leg to hop rather than butt-scoot.

One example here:

To keep her entertained and working at least a little bit while on “medical leave,” I picked up a couple of puzzle toys for her to force her to work for her food (even if she wasn’t using that leg).

Here you can see her using it, with the “help” of one of my foster kittens!

(Also during this month I had a foster cat and her four kittens who all came down with ringworm! While actually a fungus, not a worm, ringworm is highly contagious and not species-specific, so it was a super fun month of daily laundry/bleaching, excessive disinfections, frequent cat/kitten baths, and complete paranoia over spreading the fungus through the rest of the house! Fortunately, they all recovered and the babies are all in new homes now. I still have mama, who needed some additional socializing, as well as a new litter of 6 orphaned babies! Plus Chewy, featured above, who is an only child. It’s a full house, but it’s a lot of fun! Pictures of all the cuties can be found on my instagram, as seen above, and sometimes on the Facebook page of the group I foster for 🙂 )


To remove ads from your site and others, upgrade to a Tripawds Supporter blog!

Feta’s Stump Stumps Me

Tripawds is a user-supported community. Thank you for your support!

So, I found myself with this 3-legged cat living in my bathroom. After diving head-first into fostering, this was neither the strangest nor least-expected thing to happen to me this year.

Still can't decide if she sniffs and licks me out of love, or a desire to see if I'm edible.
“Well, looks like I ended up with a 3-legged bathroom cat.” “Well, looks like I ended up with a weird-smelling crazy human.”

 

While the cat herself was easier than expected, her leg stump was starting to seriously concern me. I didn’t know what if anything I should be doing to care for it (clean it? bandage it? leave it alone?), and it looked to me to be open and unhappy. But, since it changed very little from when I first brought her home over the next several days, I figured it must be working as intended. Or something like that.

Seriously, that does not look comfortable

Before long, however, it started to get worse, and what I thought was “cat breath” smell I started to suspect was actually coming from the wound. Uh oh!!!

Graphic wound picture – if the amputation site looks like this, it is not good. Also, bad smell is bad news.

Consulting with the shelter, it was decided I would try to keep her from licking it and see if it got better.

Curse you, human, and your lick-blocking contraptions!

“I will lie here glaring at you with angst and resentment until you feel guilty enough to feed me the good treats.”

 

To keep her up and moving about, I also started feeding her kibble out of an interactive food dispensing ball. This worked great, except she would roll it around until it got stuck in corners or passageways where here lifesaver-bumpered head couldn’t reach. Eventually we gave up the food ball and donated it to another cat at the shelter whose current enrichment feeder was wearing out.

Before long it became evident that the licking was more likely to be a consequence of, rather than the cause of, the issues with the amputation site. So, much to everyone (except the vet)’s dismay, back to the vet clinic she went for a thorough wound-cleaning and antibiotics.

I took advantage of her absence to Macguyver her a new litterbox contraption, as she was having significant trouble using the standard-shelter-issue stainless steel pan I’d had for her before. Cardboard “waterproofed” with decorative tape? Why not? Nothing but the most attractive bathroom decorations for my precious, abscessed, 3-legged shelter snowflake.

One must be polite to one's pottying pets
Thanks for your sacrifice, neighbor’s Chewy.com box I pulled out of the trash room! Pinterest, here we come!

 

To everyone’s frustration (except perhaps the vet’s office, since they loved “Mama Cat” and were always happy to see her), this process of leg infection, treatment, good health, then reinfection, continued through several more cycles (and several different antibiotics) before things finally settled down. Fortunately, the abscesses all seemed to be relatively superficial, but we were all still very concerned that the infection might either spread (“It’s not like there’s anything more we could cut off!” lamented the shelter director) or indicate the initial infection was worse than we’d thought (“But what if it’s been the SAME INFECTION all along?!” I moaned to my dog. He sighed indifferently.).

Along the way, Feta was graduated to the full Cone of Shame, which she had to wear for several months. She donned it quite glamorously, even if she looked kind of like a deformed art deco lamp.

“I am a blooming Catflower Lamp! Give me treats to see me shine!!”

 

Eventually, after some additional veterinary flushing and re-suturing, the amputation site looked like this – forming an ugly-but-healthy kind of barrier of dead skin, which eventually came off of its own accord. The tricky part was keeping a close eye on it to make sure no infections / abscesses returned.

Maybe we’ll give you a few more weeks to recover before your Sports Illustrated bikini shoot, eh, Feta?

 

What was most remarkable to me was how sweet and cooperative Feta remained through the whole recovery process. Whether it was happily slurping up her raspberry-flavored meds (mixed with wet food and canned pumpkin, to help with poo problems):

This looks more like the result of the poo problems than the prevention!!

Or just continuing to be gentle and affectionate with me even as I gave her uncomfortable hot compresses and leg stretches several times a day:

Volume up for a purr party!

Feta the Cheese Cat was just a rockstar, a true model patient. Good girl, Feta. You are awesome.

Cheese Cat sold separately.
Like my shirt? You can get one just like it, or one featuring a cat instead, here! 😀