Feral cat with bum leg - GOOD UPDATE on Capt'n Jack Sparrow
Our one-eyed former-Tom who I named Capt'n Jack Sparrow showed up with what I believed to be a broken leg about 3 1/2 weeks ago. Wasn't sure how he got injured - there has been a young Tom around that I had yet to trap and sometimes they can fight almost to the death. I never knew how viscious Tom cats could be until we had one around a few months ago that pinned poor Jack down and was really intent on killing him. Jack was neutered, microchipped, vaccinated and de-flea'd about a year ago as part of the Sheltering Hands feral cat program here in Marion County - I have a small registered colony of ferals here (5 registered - 1 female and 4 males plus my one domestic outdoor girl, Peaches). Anyway, the new Tom looks exactly like Jack - could be his son, so I dubbed him Jackson - and I did see him fighting with another of my ex-Tom's so I trapped him and had him rehomed where he would get neutered etc.
So back to Capt'n Jack. He was injured - not using his front left paw at all and it was severely swollen with some hair missing where the knee is. I tried to trap him for 2 weeks, but he is no dummy - he's about 5 years old from what the vet who neutered him could tell, so he has survived a lot between the damaged eye and his other battle scars. I had to go away on business for a week and my husband worked the trap detail. Last Thursday night I left the trap baited extra late - had been locking the trap open during the night because we have a ton of raccoons and this particular trap is not one that is easy to release a truly dangerous animal from. I had already caught Peaches a couple of times, so this time I came out with my flashlight and see a raccoon on top of the cage, Peaches beside it, and some shining eyes in the cage. I really thought a second raccoon was in there and was bummed and wondering how the heck I could safely release it. Then I noticed that it was black and sure enough it was Capt'n Jack in there. Thank God!
I shooed the raccoon away (carefully), and covered the cage with a sheet while Jack hissed and scrambled around in there. For a minute there I thought he would get loose, but he did not. I locked the cage in our empty, secire chicken coop so that nothing could get at Jack in the night. Next morning I put him in my SUV (after putting many garbage bags in the cargo area in case he peed). My vet is open at 7, so I drove him right there and explained the situation. They kept him to evaluate and called me later to ask if I thought the leg was broken. I said I did not know for sure and authorized x-rays. My vet told me that she would recommend putting him down if it was broken because I would not be able to handle him to change the splint etc. I said I'd like to give him a chance, but do not want to see him suffer if he will not improve. The x-rays did not show any broken bones, but there is a lot of instability in the joint - vet thinks it may have been dislocated and some tendon damage - almost like an ACL injury. She said she's sen that in housecats, and many times they do not heal and need amputation, which is not an option with Jack. She also said there is swelling even 2 1/2 weeks after the injury and she could not aspirate it. SHe gave me the option of giving him a long lasting antibiotic shot and taking him home for 2 weeks to see if he improved. SHe shaved the leg so I could watch the swelling and they tested him for FIV because he would not heal if he had that (he was negative).
We took him home last Friday and made a room for him in the chicken coop. Put a cat bed in there, litter box, and there are clean shavings about 3 inches think in there already because we lost our last rooster at Easter and I cleaned it thoroughly. He has the roosting nests above, a screen door, fresh water and his favorite wet food.
Good news is that the swelling has almost completely gone away - there is a strange bump on it, but I think that is part of the tendon or unstable area. He is eating well, which the vet said if he stops eating or seems in pain or lethargic that he may be suffering and to let her know. His coat is shiny and he almost seemed to enjoy the safe haven for the first few days. I would find him laying in the cat bed like a king. He is starting to get a little restless although he has not bolted for the door when I change his food and water. I spend time with him in there 3 or 4 times a day. He had started to let me pat him and would meow and follow me when I brought his food about 2 weeks before he got injured, but since then he has not let me touch him and hissed at me if I get too close. I am trying to gain back that trust.
He did use the bad foot yesterday to scratch some of the shavings out of the way and lay down - that is a great sign. He also left it down when he ate this morning - usually he bends it under while he eats.
One more week and we'll see how he is doing and decide when to release him. A friend suggested we keep him in there, but he would be miserable. I know he is vulnerable out in the world, but I think he would prefer to take his chances rather than being confined to such a small area. As long as no other mean cats come by, and he stays out of the road, he seems content in our yard, barn and shed.
Here he is = please send some jingles his way - I really would love to have him back with at least some use of that foot. He's such a good boy at heart - he just got a bum deal in life early on. I hope I am doing the right thing for him....
I hope he will go in the coop at night, but normally he sleeps in the barn. He's pretty safe in there.
Today he actually seemed to be using that leg. I keep thinking of him like a horse on layup - it is painful to keep them cooped up (literally!), but is best for them. He hunkered down to eat his breakfast, and instead of curling that leg under, he flexed it like the other one and seemed to be putting weight on it. I am so hopeful for him!
As I was leaving this morning for my trip to St Petersburg FL, my husband stopped my car and told me to come see Jack. He was walking on the bad leg - actually USING it! I am so happy for him! Another week confined and he may be almost as good as new! Will have to see what to go when we let him lose again - we do not have anywhere to put a cat door - our barn is open. Maybe we can do something with the coop he is in, but anything he can get in, the racoons and foxes etc can get it too. It will be up to him and good luck as far as how he does, but he is a smart guy.
Took some pictures and video but am not home - will post this weekend...
Yeah for Jack! Is there some way you could put a small cat flap in the coop. I don't think a raccoon could get in. We got ours at Lowe's. It's set up so that you can lock it both ways, or just one way or the other.
My elderly cat was in so much pain that she didn't want to move around at all. I put food and water within reach and moved her into the litter box a couple of times a day. It got a bit better with drugs. Two days later she was walking around pretty normally. Two days after that she was trotting around the house and leaping on to things (and off the drugs). I wish the dang horses healed that fast.