December 3rd was one of the worst nights. One I will always regret.
That night, I got worried after my rescued Maine Coon Mix, Tadashi, had been out for more than 3 hours. I walked our small neighborhood (gated) looking for him. Just a few houses away I heard his mournful meow. I have NEVER heard that before. Since it was pitch dark, I scooped him up and took him home. As soon as I got to our carport, in the light, I laid him down gently and after another loud howl, realized he was hurt. I quickly checked him over, no blood or anything. I called my daughter who was at her friends house to hurry and get home. I did not think I could drive with him alone. My daughter Jessica quickly arrived with her friend Monica in tow.
We drove a few short miles to an emergency vet where our worst nightmare became a reality. Nothing was broken but there were many fractures and possible nerve damage. They kept him overnight, heavily medicated and hydrated him.
We brought him home. It was not easy. He was confined to a large kennel with a baking sheet tray as a litter box. We medicated him every 6-8 hours with 2 kinds of meds. One buprenorphine and gabapentin. Buprenorphine is a replacement medication for heroin and morphine. Less addictive and so on. Gabapentin relieves pain by changing how the brain reacts to it. In any event, he was great at taking the meds and actually came to ask for them as time goes on.
No one tells you what to expect! There are no blogs... no books. Nothing.
The first day was easy, he still had the IV medication running in his veins. About 48 hours was when things started to change.
The vet immediately wanted to perform surgery which could cost upwards of $6000. His vet bill was already over $2000. We did not have $8000 and to be honest, even with pet insurance this would not have covered it. Pet insurance only covers routine care, never accidents or cancer or anything that costs thousands of dollars. So before you buy pet insurance, check this. It is not like health care for humans.
Since we did not have this much. It would be more of taking him home, confining him and monitoring his healing over the next few months.
So now, @72 hours, completely free of the "good drugs" we were on our own. Thankfully he was eating really well, drinking and even pooping and peeing. Weird how you can be grateful for the little things. However, he cried when he moved and of course he re-positioned himself quite often. He was on very soft blankets but we noticed it was difficult for him to walk around because it was so soft. So we opted for folded towels. Soft but walkable for him. He was also is so much pain he was peeing on the towels and pooping where he laid down. We cleaned him 2-3 times a day. We would wait until the drugs hit (usually around 30-45 minutes) before we moved him and manipulated him. We cleaned him with scented wipes, yes I know, irritating and not good but he smelled horrible.
By the time week 1 had passed, the cries lessened significantly and we started to taper off of the buprenorphine but kept up with the gabapentin every 8 hours. We would take him out to deep clean his kennel, change the towels and give him lots of snuggles for that time period. We did not need to keep his kennel warmed as he is a long haired cat. We did spend a lot of time cleaning him and brushing out his fur to be sure he did not become matted.
Week 2-3 was much of the same. Peeing & pooping where he laid. By this time he was very tolerant to us cleaning and grooming him. He purred a lot while this happened.
Week 4 was when he was peeing and pooping in the tray. He was also grooming himself now. He was oddly flexible and it scared me to see him moving but he did not cry. By this time I knew his cry when he was in pain. It was deep, guttural almost. A typical terrifying black cat cry. He had his follow up vet visit to get more meds and to check on his general health. He popped in the kennel... Thanks Dashi :)
Week 5 was interesting. He wanted to pee in his litter box and actually vaulted over my daughters lap to drag himself about 10 feet to the litter box. We learned really fast that he could get around and really fast. He was adjusting to the changes in his body.
Week 6 was him wanting out of the kennel and snuggles. He has always been an affectionate cat, so my daughter would bring him up on her bed and let him sleep there if he wanted. We also had a portable litter box ready for him to use.
Week 7 was fighting with him to stay in the kennel. It was a losing battle. He wanted out and he wanted out all the time. So we allowed him to lay day at the back sliding door to look outside and watch the birds. He was also using his litter box regularly outside of the kennel.
Week 8-9 is Tadashi out of the kennel a lot more. Moving and hoping around the house, which is only to get to his litter box and to eat. His vet check up reveals his left side is completely healed! YEAH!!! Right side not so much. In 6 weeks more x rays and possible orthopedic appointment and surgery consultation. The surgery will cost at least $3000 but could go up to $20,000 and no guarantees he won't need subsequent surgeries. We tabled this for now. I have removed all tables that he could possibly jump on because he is obnoxious and curious. So if you come by the house and there are no tables, well that's why.
Week 10 somehow he snuck past me when I took the trash out and got outside. He did not get very far and ended up in our backyard. We are in the processes of buying a lot of baby gates to keep him inside the home.