by Dr. King. This is part three of our ‘We Are Thankful” series that is highlighting some of the pets that come to Town N Country.
Waking up to a police officer knocking on your door at 7 in the morning is no one’s idea of a good start to the day, but it’s how Holly’s day started a few months ago. The police officer had found a badly injured cat and had taken his time to search for its owner, going door to door to see who the broken kitty belonged to.
Holly had worried about Bulls-eye not coming home the night before, but occasionally he would stay out late at night, arriving the next morning ready for breakfast. This morning instead of being greeted with hungry meows, the doorbell and the explanation from the officer was her first experience of the day. She saw how badly Bulls-eye was hurt and tearfully rushed him in to the vet’s office, knowing he was in serious condition, but not knowing the full extent of his injuries.
There is hope. Bulls-eye’s injuries were ones that viscerally make you turn away, but then you have to look back. He had sustained severe injuries to his head and face. One eyeball was completely ruptured with remnants resting on his cheek. The remaining eye was severely swollen and hemorrhagic, protruding from the socket. His mouth gaped open as blood tinged saliva dripped on his paws. You could hear the sounds of him breathing as he tried to suck air in through his swollen nose and throat. His tongue wouldn’t fit in his mouth anymore with all the swelling in the back of his throat.
My habit is to start my exam at the head and work back and so far all I’d found was trauma after trauma after trauma. But then I checked his heart and lungs. His heart was strong and steady. My pulse rate was probably higher than his at that time. His abdomen was untouched. His spine and legs worked, although the left front wasn’t as strong as the right. All the technicians were prepared for the seemingly obvious euthanasia, so they looked in disbelief when I said, “I think he has a chance”.
Holly and I talked about the road ahead for Bulls-eye as she chose to treat his injuries while the staff administered pain medications and started cleaning the dried blood from his face. There was a very slim chance he would be able to see out of the one eye that wasn’t ruptured, and would at least need surgery to remove the one that was. His jaw was likely fractured in at least one and maybe two places. There would be days to weeks in the hospital with the possibility of multiple surgeries to help him overcome the injuries. But his injuries weren’t life threatening, and the decision was made to treat him.
A few days were spent to see if any vision would come back to the less damaged eye, and to see how much damage was in the back of his throat. He had to be syringe fed, wounds cleaned, and treated on a daily basis, but he never put up much resistance when we were helping him. With no improvement in the “good” eye, the decision was made to remove both eyes and place a feeding tube as a first step. He came through surgery great and seemed to feel better after his eyes were removed and thing started healing. He enjoyed getting his meals through his tube since his jaw was still an issue.
A leap of faith. The jaw fractures were the next obstacle to overcome. The front fracture was an easy thing to repair, but fracture at the back, involving the joint, was much trickier. It was something we thought a specialist may need to weigh in with. Our regular specialist, Dr. Clary looked at the x-rays and agreed a surgeon need to see him, but couldn’t help himself, as he was out of town.
We called another specialist that would come to our office, but she was scheduled for conferences. Moving him to a teaching hospital was out of reach for our client. We could try it ourselves, but having no prior experience with that particular surgery but knowing the intricacies of the jaw joint, that seemed a less than favorable option.
I did have experience with a cat name Charlie years ago that had a similar fracture in which surgery wasn’t an option. Charlie healed and was able to eat, although he did have a snaggle tooth appearance because of a misalignment. We discussed the options and the worries of what surgery may entail, and Holly opted to let Bulls-eye have the opportunity to heal. He already had his feeding tube in, so there wasn’t any rush for him to use his jaw, and if it didn’t heal correctly we could go back in later and correct it.
And then he started to heal. Over the next few weeks, the swelling went down from his nostrils and he could breathe easy again. The scabs and bleeding from those passages dried up and fell away, letting him smell his food. He’d had major contusions and bruising to his hard palate and his tongue, and over time it loosened up and fell away showing off the pink new healthy tissue.
The swelling in the back of his tongue and throat shrunk down and as he could close his mouth better, he started licking again like a normal cat. First his nose, then his lips, and finally time for a bath! Although he still was getting most of his nutrition from his feeding tube, he started trying to eat the other cat’s food.
Eventually, he was eating enough that the feeding tube was no longer necessary and could be pulled.
Bulls-eye is still adjusting to his new life. The hardest part is not getting familiar to mapping out his house, and figuring out how to negotiate without the sense of sight, but he sometimes longs for the outdoors and is bullheaded enough to try and sneak outside. But Holly is always watchful and on guard to prevent him from wandering out into the wild. His story makes us thankful and appreciative for wonders and adaptability of creation. It humbles us knowing that for all we are trained to do, all the technology that is available, it is God who does the healing. We take for granted that healing will come, but it is a miracle that we get to watch first-hand.