It was way back in mid-February when Eddie the former stray cat broke his tail, leading to a tail amputation, a little setback with a seroma/abscess putting him back about a week, drainage, antibiotics, and a new set of stitches. He'll finally have his last (we hope, we hope!) vet visit the 1st week of April, so it's been a ways to this point, and he's still recovering.
But we are finally at the point where I'm feeling good
about his recovery! Throughout the break and amputation, it was a lot like taking care of a very sick baby. There were things that needed to be done that he did not want
being done, there was pain and discomfort, and there was a big old language barrier when it came to the ability to explain
any of that to him.
Now? It's more like taking care of a mildly sniffly, cranky two year old: "I'm boooooored! Entertain me, or I'll get into all kinds of trouble!" =:o
It makes me happy, though. He bounces off the walls and drives me up
them, but if we can just make it through this week without me or the cat losing our minds, then we'll be out of the woods. It hasn't been that long since I was afraid we'd lose him, and now I can see his always-BIG personality springing back to the fore, and it's awesome! :D
Early days were tough, though. A feline tail amputation is something without a lot of details given, when you Google it. It's apparently a routine type of veterinary surgery...but it doesn't seem to be all that common.
There's info about broken tails in cats, much of it contradictory, all of it fairly sparse. The recommendations for aftercare seem to change from vet to vet; website to website (although there are some basics, applicable to pretty much any animal who's had any type of surgery).
Some of the best info I got was from folks' blogs, just regular old people who've been through tail amps with their own felines, but those who went into any detail were few and far between.
I figured it might provide a service if I went ahead and wrote up, with as much detail as I'm able to provide, the whole saga of Eddie's broken tail, amputation, and recovery, for someone in my position; namely, a lifelong dog-lover who's only recently discovered the wonders of cats, who doesn't know a whole hellovalot about them, but loves one particular stupid cat and worries about him...and who's spent a gazillion dollars on vet visits for the former stray already, and who'd like to avoid dragging him back in every few days unless it's necessary. Ya know?
And I will definitely do that. But not today! LOL, the lack of detail in folks' recountings may have as much to do with sleep deprivation and constant running as anything else. ;->
I looked at a lot of U.S.-based sites searching info on cats with broken tails -- naturally enough, since that's where I live. But something has happened among U.S. veterinarians over the past years/decade or so: their professional org decided that it was better for all cats to be inside cats, and they've all fallen into line with that position.
When trying to explain our personal sitch, that this was a former feral who spent his entire life
outside, till bending enough to let us befriend him, that he goes flat NUTS trying to get out when we confine him, that in his unique case I just don't see any chance at real happiness
for him in such a small, boring place, people actually get mad.
"Cats are adaptable. Just keep a squirt bottle of water next to the door and squirt him in the face when he gets too close to it. He'll learn!" The justification, natch, is that they're "safer" if they never go outside.
Ya know what? You and I would also be "safer" if we never went outside. Your kids
would be "safer" if they were confined to small rooms without any dangerous items till they made it out of childhood. But...that's not a life.
We need to leave the safety of our rooms, we need
to let our kids go. And yeah, I know critters aren't human, and our pets are not our babies. But the analogy suffices, for me. It's frustrating not being able to find anyone who even understands the dilemma I feel about letting him back out when he's through recovering; everyone simply says "Keep him in, or else you're an irresponsible owner who does not deserve to have a cat."
There are lots of pet cats in the U.K., and most of them are indoor/outdoor. The "You MUST keep them in!" tude doesn't seem to have travelled as far across the pond as it's spread here in the States. Sometimes there's a disconnect between what the "experts" say and what I see with my own two eyes, and in those cases I've learned through experience to trust my own personal observations
over and above what anyone else says. But still, when it seems like "You Vs. The World," it's wise to do a little check on yourself.
Sometimes it turns out you're really not
the only one. I stumbled across an excellent
article written by a British vet, on the In/Out Dilemma. It acknowledges the things I instinctively felt about cats, and how they roll, and gave some great tips and suggestions for how to give an inside-only cat some quality of life, should that be your goal. Highly recommended: http://www.fabcats.org/behaviour/understanding/safe_dilemma.html
Finally, I couldn't not post a pic of Conehead Ed, just because, so here's the poor dude with his lampshade -- I'd have spared him the indignity, but after he got it off twice
on his own and chewed his stitches, thus causing the problems that delayed his recovery, we figured it was best to keep him locked up, to the degree that we are able. ;->