Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Million Dollar Kitten

The Million Dollar Kitten......

….or how Tang uses up three of his nine lives before he is even four months old.

Day One--Misery
If you remember back in July—the 9th to be exact-- I found a little orange kitten on the edge of the parking lot at work as I was prepared to head home for the day. He was in bad shape—dehydrated, weak, hungry and I found out later injured.

Tang chows down his first meal after being found
I found him on Wednesday and took him to the vet on Friday after work as the kitten could barely walk and was obviously injured in the hips or spine. The verdict without x-rays was likely a fractured pelvis and the treatment was predisone and cage 'rest'. There was also a very brief mention of 'hopefully he hasn't herniated into the chest and since his lungs sound good he is probably okay—nothing I (the vet) could do about it anyway'. At first this wasn't hard and Tang was agreeable to resting and eating and eating and resting. He had allot of ground to re-gain.

Growing and trying to heal
On Saturday he had a setback and his breathing was too fast, so I whisked him off to the vet again, where they decided to keep him for the weekend and give him Dexamethasone shots and observe him. By Monday he was feeling lots better and eating well, so I brought him back home.

I hide from Mommy all the's fun
Sometimes I sit real still and hide in plain sight....
Tang continued to improve with 'bed' rest and eventually was getting around quite well on his injured leg/pelvis. By August 2 I had him back to the vet for his first round of shots. He had gained about a pound by then.

Tang trying to be normal...but his face looks distressed....
Time went on, and Tang tried so hard to act like a normal kitty—he would run and play and even attempt tree climbing. There were things though...things that in hindsight weren't right and in the back of my mind I knew they weren't 'normal'. He tired easily. His breathing seemed too rapid. He ate like a horse...but would only eat so much and stop. He was growing, but was long and lanky and looked like someone had stretched him out and he hadn't popped back to his normal shape. But he was up to 3.6 lbs! There was a definite 'empty' space in front of his hips and behind his ribs. But he pretended so hard to be okay.

Then one Friday in September he didn't act well. His appetite wasn't good and I had to coax him to eat. By Saturday he wasn't eating at all and in obvious distress with his breathing. I called my 'cat' vet with little hope of getting him in on a Saturday morning. However the vet's daughter was at the desk and worked him for 10:30—I had to hustle to get ready and out the door as it is 36 miles away.

When I got to the vet my regular vet was not on duty, and I was seen by a lady vet that I had not met before. She was pretty nice and listened to what I had to say. I told her what was going on and that I was concerned about a) the bad cat diseases—FIV, FeLV & FIP and would like him tested for these (although there is no test for FIP) b) I mentioned what the original vet had said about possible herniation. So they whisked little Ting-Tang off for an x-ray and blood test. I didn't have a good feeling about any of it.
Sweet little Tang pre-surgery

Not soon enough the lady vet came back—shaking her head as she came in the door and saying, 'well it's not good news'. The x-ray had indeed revealed that Tang had been severely injured and had suffered a herniated diaphragm. What this essentially meant was there was a tear in the wall of his diaphragm that had allowed his liver (and possibly) other organs to be pushed up into his chest cavity. This of course was causing breathing difficulties since his lungs could not expand properly.

Indeed. And this is the little kitten who kept playing and climbing and trying.

He would not survive much longer. He was in distress. The lady vet said they did not do surgeries like that there. It was too delicate and intrinsic. He would have to be in a very controlled atmosphere. The closest one she knew that would do it would be in Springfield and it would be very expensive. From stories I've heard it would have likely been over $1,000 just to get started. My heart was very heavy. I asked her what the blood test revealed. If he had tested positive to the diseases I would have had him euthanized as his immune system would have been compromised making his chance at surviving surgery slim,  and it would have been a continued risk for the existing cat colony. However he tested negative so I told the lady vet I could not make the decision right then, I'd have to figure out what to do. I knew I couldn't afford a thousand dollar plus surgery. It was a horrible decision to have to face.

With heavy heart  and trying not to cry, I went to pay my bill. The vet's daughter looked over the paperwork and disappeared for moment into the back. When she came back, she said, my Dad does this surgery. He has done several over the years. She would call him right then and see if he could do it today. Evidently he and his wife (who is also the primary receptionist) were out of town at a ballgame. Through a loud and difficult conversation (remember a ballgame!) it was established that he would do it that night when they got back. Time was of the essence. I asked her how much it would cost. The bill was still going to be high, but it was not going to be a thousand dollars and more.

I'm not made of money and it was difficult to spend this large sum, but how could I not? So after hugging Tang and praying for the best I walked away. Late that evening the vet called. Tang had survived surgery and was coming out of the anesthesia. The next 48 hours would be critical. It was a very delicate surgery and his entire liver had been pushed into the chest cavity so it was possible it was compromised. Time would tell. No news would be good news. Didn't sleep that much or the next two nights amid horrible nightmares.
Ouch...first night home after surgery

Monday a.m. I called to see how he was. He was ready to come home! What?? So that evening I went and picked him up and was amazed that he looked so well. He came home with antibiotics and ten days cage rest orders...and a six inch long from 'stem to stern' incision.

Home after surgery
Ten days was a long time. Because the weather had taken a turn for the cooler I moved him and his crate inside (much to the consternation of existing cats!). For the first week he wolfed down his food and couldn't get enough. The little guy had been starving! He was good for about a day and then the playing started—this escalated day by day—even though there wasn't much for him to play with he 'made do' and trashed his cage. On day ten back to the vet he went for stitches removal—which didn't go well (they were already growing in) and a checkup. He was doing great! We were all grinning like hyenas. I found out later the vet had never done this surgery on one so small. Also that it was good he had grown and gained some weight before the surgery, so the delay from the time of injury was actually a good thing.
Gabe shut down completely when I moved kitten and crate in the house.  Look at that expression...what a big baby!    

After two weeks of restricted activity Tang was set free. I don't think he quit being in motion all day long. He could play and run and run and play and not get winded.
Almost time for stitches to come out

Another view of the ouchy belly.  Incision started just below his sternum
Restricted to strolls on a leash..oh how he hated that!  You can see he has a belly now though! 
Extremely jealous Carly and extremely aggravated Tang share a look
We'll never know what happened to the little guy. These kind of injuries are common when hit by a car, falls, and being kicked. They can also be congenital but since he had hip/leg problems it was more likely and injury.

Tang on the move --his first day of real freedom
After all that you'd think he could be a house kitty. But much to my distress, he can't. We are barely holding on as it is with the resident house cats and can't add anymore to the mix. I wish he could have a safe loving forever indoor home, but so far no one has knocked down my door to apply. I worry about him and pray he will be smart and lucky enough to survive 'out there'. So far he stays in the yard and putts about. When I am out doing chores sometimes he will venture out back with us. I put him up at night and who knows maybe always least until he is big enough not to be owl bait. He has grown allot and still has a gusty appetite. He is a purring machine.

I'm okay Mommy...really!
I spend long minutes searching for him and checking up on him. He is the invisible cat. I can't ever see him no matter where he is. And he never lets me know, just sits and watches.  I worry allot.  Allot.  At some point I have to resolve this and let it go, but the little bugger has wound himself around my heart.

Tang this week, hanging out with the cool catio cats.
Saturday he turned into a little monster.  He climbed up the catio and onto the roof of the house--not once but twice.  And I climbed up on my rickety ladder, not once, but twice to rescue him.  Yes, I know, he has to learn.  But I fear he will jump and re-injure himself and I cave in.  The second time he climbed down my face and left some nice scratches.   Not only did he climb up on the roof he later found a baby vole in a nest and played with it until I 'rescued' it.   (I hardly think it will survive).   That night he was exhausted, and I have to admit I was too.  All last week he was smitten with the catio people (house cats) and spent all his time out there.  The new seems to be wearing off though, as he has made reappearances back to the other side of the house.  Sunday I caught him in the act of shimmying up the catio fence towards the roof again.  I shimmied him right back down.   

Rotten Tang up on the roof of the house
If he survives long enough he has to go back to the vet in November for the big tutor surgery.  Then we shall be done, I hope, with his vet care.   At least I hope.  Only time will tell if there is any long term damage to his liver.  

I don't know how long he will live. It's a violent world out there. But he has his chance now to be a normal little kitty. The resident outside girl kitties try and ignore him. He plays with the inside kitties through the doors and their catio fence. This winter I hope to be able to rig up a heated bed for him and pray he will be tough and stout enough to handle the cold.

I wish there was a way to fence my place to keep wandering kitties in...sigh.  

Not sure why I found that little scrap but find him I did and I pray his life is long and happy.   And I don't turn completely grey....

I'm ready to be rescued again now!


thecrazysheeplady said...

Awwwwwwww :-)

How Sam Sees It said...

Such a sweet story - I hope the little guy knows how lucky he is to have you as his guardian angel.

Monty and Harlow

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, Tammy, you are the patron saint of animals!

Danny Hansen said...

Hey, if you are ever desiring more cats, we have 5 kittens and 3 adults roaming around our house. 1 'Adult' was born last spring, the kittens this summer. The spring cat is white with orange ears, face, and tail, like two of the kittens, and all there rest are orange striped or just apricot orange.

Marielle said...

This is quite a rescue story. If you do not keep him, hope he finds the perfect home.
I enjoyed reading his story. I'm into cat rescue myself.

Tammy said...

Thanks everyone. It's just hard for me to ever say no. I just hope the little guy has a better life from now on. No thanks Danny! Have plenty it seems around here. Thanks Marielle, I plan to keep him unless something better comes along for him (like and indoor home).


Sue said...

It's so hard when they worm their way into your heart. Especially when they;re so needy.

Marielle said...

Do you still have Tang? How is he doing?

Star said...

Wel, well, well we do love our kitties don't we. You will surely get your reward in Heaven Tammy. You deserve it. How is he now I wonder?

Kathy said...

Ah, Tammy! What can I do to help????
I loved Tang's story!
(Sorry I haven't been around much - it's been a year in more ways than one, but we'll chat via email)
Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
Do you have a PetsMart there in town?
Did you post a fund-raiser on the blog to raise money to help with Tang's expenses?
Let me know, Chica! :)

Tammy said...

Hi Marielle--thanks for checking back. Tang is doing well. He had his neuter and booster shots last week and seems to be taking it in stride. Do you still have your blog? I tried to leave a comment a couple of times and for some reason it didn't go through, and I couldn't access it just now.
Star good to hear from you! He is doing good!
Kathy, so good to hear from you to. I think of you often. Please email me! I have been wondering how things were going for you. I think all is taken care of for the moment around here, but thank you. We have a petsmart that I make a run to for 'foods' every six weeks or so. I didn't do a fund raiser, because it worked out I could handle it. I don't suppose you want a another kitty do you?? :-) Would love him to have an indoor home even if it would break my heart to see him go.


Phyllis Oller said...

I was on pins & needles reading your Tang`s story. What a sweet kitty, & I believe that you were meant to find him. Hoping all is well with him now, God bless you for being the animal rescuer ,happy holidays,phyllis