Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Meet River Rat the Cat

Meet River Rat

River Rat is one of those I didn’t take "before" pictures of.  I didn’t think she stood a chance of recovery.  I can never bring myself to take pictures of the ones that I don’t think will make it.  It just feels wrong.  River Rat came to us almost three years ago.  She was one of the most pathetic things I’ve ever seen.  Her legs were rotting off from the elbows and knees down.   She was skin and bones.

She’d been found floating on a log with all four legs dangling down in the water in Georgia.  Someone rescued her and she found her way to Winging Cat Rescue where a foster mom started to care for her.  The doctors there and her foster mom worked really hard trying to save her legs.  Every toe was badly infected, the pads almost shredded, infection in the bone had deformed the legs.  Poor little River Rat couldn’t even sit up, let alone take a walk.  She couldn’t even get to a litterbox.

The wounds had gotten better, but were not totally healing.  It seemed no matter what medications were used, the infection would just come back.  She sure seemed like a hopeless case.  We’d just healed Merlin from a horrible mauling where he’d lost the skin on almost half of one side of his body.  And so Barbara at Winging Cat Rescue asked me to please try and see what we could do for River Rat. 

She described it all to me, yet I was still shocked to see this poor little thing.  Did we stand a chance of saving her?  I’ll do anything in the world to save somebody as long as I can believe there is hope.  When I know there isn’t, then I have to let go and let them go to Rainbow Bridge.  What should I do? 

River Rat had the brightest eyes and though she was timid and fearful, something about her begged to be given a chance.  And so we went to work.  Management, care and cleaning of the wounds and helping them to get about without causing any more injury is what it’s all about.  Soaking foot and leg wounds on dogs or horses is one thing.  Cats, who hate water, quite another.  And poor River Rat had to endure long soaks four times a day.

Those of you who’ve dealt with an injury on a cat that required soaking are, no doubt, thinking, but didn’t you get bite and clawed.  Not clawed as her toes were so damaged and swollen she could barely moor her hands or feet.  Bit - you bet ‘ch!  It’s all part of the job.  Fortunately we all understand that it’s just a response out of fear an no evil is meant, and so we soak ourselves, bandage up, and go on.

Eventually River Rats knees and elbows began to heal.  Gradually the infection receded down the legs.  Finally the swelling in the paws went down.  We wondered if the toes would ever heal.  Would some or all end up having to be amputated?  She had begun to walk on the pads without putting the toes down.  Her legs were quite twisted and badly damaged.  But she was virtually pain free and starting to act like a cat.

And one by one the toes healed.  One stayed limp and swollen a few weeks longer.  And then finally healed.  Over the next year the fur grew back to cover the scars and she continued with physical therapy on her toes and fingers and wrists and ankles and elbows and knees twice a day.  She thought of her therapy times as play times.  She began to run and play. 

That last toe healed!  We all sobbed tears of joy!  Her right arm twists slightly out but you don’t even notice it when you watch her play and run.  She’s now a mascot kitty and has free range of the farm.  She prefers to be out most of the time.  We’re making her come in at night now cuz she just doesn’t see to go somewhere warm and we don’t like her just sitting around sleeping on the ground in this snow. 

She’s not really caged in the picture above.  She comes into the 9th Life Center and enjoys finding a bed in an empty cage to use for the night.  She’s just snuggling down for the night.  First crack of dawn, and she’ll be back out playing.

Interview with River Rat

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