Cat Nerfing

January 12, 2010

After a resolution to return to blogging, our household has taken a bit of a hit. Diesel (our oldest cat, at 5 years old) has been labouring with a limp for the last few months, he’s been taken to the vets regularly while they tried to find what’s wrong. And yesterday he was going in for a final X-Ray before we all could come to the conclusion that it was something un-X-rayable.

He hates the vet. The vets are a little scared of him, despite his soppiness and nerves at home. But, in pain, he became close to feral. Yesterday he got to see the best vet ever, who looked at him, heard my tales of his behaviour and said ‘shall we just leave him in the carrier since we know we’re admitting him for an X-Ray?’. Less trauma for my baby.

Went home with neighbours who were valiantly supplying the ride to the vets, and then popped home to eat something and wait to ring the vets at 1pm, sure they wouldn’t find anything again and his mystery limp was going to be with us for a while. At 12:40 they rang. It started badly, with them saying they’d found a bone tumour in his paw that was really painful for him (and that had barely been noticeable by X-Ray. We were in luck at their chief orthopaedic expert was coincidentally in that day and had been snapped up to check mystery limp cat!!). Anyway, apparently it’s pretty rare in cats, and most of the studies they work with are dogs. It spreads very quickly in dogs, so much so that they rarely can do much except extend life for a short time.

In Diesel, it meant a chest X-Ray to see if there was any sign of spread. None so far. And then amputation of his front left leg. I don’t quite know how I held it together to speak to the woman on the phone, but I took some details including when to ring back. And called my husband, in tears and made him tearful also. Then my neighbours who have been a rock of cat support to us, since we’re fairly new to the gig (before we fostered a little and found Diesel that way) and they told me to drop everything and come over. Being around other people meant I could re-discover the famed British Upper Lip, and took a hot drink and started to let the shock settle in.

We’d always said that losing the leg was worst case scenario. But even in my pessimistic leaning, I never thought he’d have to lose it to save his life from much worse.

He was supposed to stay at the vet’s overnight. But when I rang in they said he was getting stressed and would we like him to come home. So, with another really kind offer of a lift, we all set out to get him, knowing we’d soon see the cruel evidence of his bad luck. And with a heady mix of guilt, sadness and hoping for him to be ok.

He’d been given 3 different sedatives. He really wasn’t happy at all. And there’s no promise that it worked in the long run. They can’t give that, and we can’t expect them to, but I’d hoped it would be over.

And although we set up the bedroom for him to hide in, he’s not taking it well. He’s never liked being shut in. Not cat carriers, not rooms, not outside the house – he hates closed doors. And as he’s been waking up from the doping, he’s been increasingly upset about it. He’s even done a runner (which at least means he can tackle stairs already at full pelt). He’s also had his first fall. I’m warned we should expect many as he re-learns how to land.

Malarkey (commonly called Larky) is the baby of the house. She adores Diesel, though he’s been very stand-offish of her since the foot pain. She was down in the dumps while he was at the vets and now she’s camped outside the bedroom. When he cries, she comes calling. And he cries by the door every hour. I slept from 8pm-midnight, then husband went in to take care of Diesel and I’m up, making sure Larky feels loved.

I know things will return to normal. I know cats can be very happy on 3 legs. My uncle has a 3-legged cat. I’m worried about this week. Getting him to eat tablets, and take his meds (due to his ‘temperament problem’ they gave him dissolvable stitches at least! The vets really ARE scared of him, but they’ll see a nicer side of him when the pain is gone, I’m sure). I don’t like to keep him trapped in when he might be happier outside. I don’t like to make Larky feel unwanted. And I want it to be the end of my poor baby’s woes. I want to be able to look at him and not worry about what’s to come.

So, no blogging just yet. I’m too scared of dissolving into tears to speak to my regular gaming group, though I know they’d give me company and support.

Maybe tomorrow.



  1. Take you time Idris, we’ll be there when you need us!

  2. I went up this morning and checked how Diesel’s night was. Anaesthesia is often even harder for the cats than the treatment, sometimes they give them too much and the awakening process is a horror for the cat and the owner then. But it seems this went well.

    Don’t worry too much about Larky. You are a bit reflecting your fears onto her. I guess the vet already gave you advice how to deal with Diesel’s first three-legged walking attempts. Please make sure you don’t help him to move every inch. They can often still jump on the couch and all that. It is a bit an antromorphism, but once you decide he is good enough to try walking again, you must give him an opportunity to learn it. He might become even more furious and cry more than at the vet initially, please be strong when his first attempts make him angry and whiny as you might not have seen him ever before.

    Best wishes to Diesel. In a way, he is now a pirate cat. Captain Diesel, he who makes Chuck Norris go pale and wet his pants. He will probably eat vets for breakfast.

    • He’s walked around the bedroom, dashed downstairs and hid behind the toilet – and yeah, we’re not going to help him. But there was an almighty crash in the night that was him trying to jump somewhere, really got to us both.

      He’s finding it harder to find a comfy way to lie down, left side keeps pulling him due to balance issues, and that means lying on his stitches.

      Now I just want him to eat and drink, so he can take his meds the nicer way.

      • I can relate to the jumping issue… ouch!

  3. Wotcha Arbitrary,
    Neither of the two cats-of-three-legs I’ve known could be considered nerfed.
    Both have milked the sympathy in new company (one had a habit of showing off his scarred shoulder for “loves”), but have also been seen sprinting along 9′ thin fences for fun a few minutes later.
    Time heals all things, but in cats it un-nerfs them.

    • My uncle’s cat shows off the scarred shoulder when he needs some help scratching a part that he can no longer reach. But having already witnessed Diesel’s speed I don’t think mobility will be the biggest issue once it’s healed.

  4. *big hug*

    Take as long as you need Arb!

    • the casual life looks more appealing at times like these.

  5. Yes, don’t worry too much about Larky, even if she feels less loved these days. It’s temporary and she’ll soon forget this week. Deezi, on the other hand, will need to feel you there for him. It’s a scary situation for a human being who understands why this is happening – it must be terrifying for the poor cat. Your simple presence and reassurance will do wonders to him.

    It will get better soon, don’t worry. And we are here for you!

  6. Hugs to all of you, I know from experience how traumatic this stuff can be. And how cats and stitches just don’t seem to mix very well.

    Regarding meds, after years of trying to give daily meds to our extremely mouth-sensitive cat (Rodney, they other half of Rodney and Del Boy), I eventually discovered a syringe-shaped pill-dispenser. It only works for smallish pills, but you stuff it into this rubber mouth-area, get *that* into the mouth (instead of your fingers) and push this little plunger to deliver. It’s not perfect but it did make pill delivery much quicker, which was less traumatic for everyone involved. Dunno if you can find such a thing in the UK though — I’d never seen one until I came here.

    • we do have those pill dispensers here, but after getting very upset about his lack of eating the anti-biotics I decided to just bite the bullet and quickly discovered that 3 legs are just not as good at getting rid of humans trying to feed pills, so am using the opportunity to get him more used to this method of medicine-giving.

  7. Snoopy wants to send a get well soon card – let me have your address so I can add her paw print to a nice card for Diesel.

    • if you get a paw print you deserve a medal 🙂 Will dm on twitter.

  8. Sorry to hear your moggy is poorly. I’d be pretty distressed if my little drain on resources was in the same boat.

    Cats are good adapters though, so hopefully Diesel will improve soon.

    Best wishes.

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