Aug 05, 2009
Several weeks ago, a kitten came into our emergency clinic that had fallen 50 feet out of a tree. Amazingly, the owner had caught the falling feline just before it hit the ground, but on the way down the kitten hit a large branch. His back leg was clearly broken, and after giving some pain meds we talked to the owner about his two options: Fix the broken leg, or amputate. Three legged cats, or "tripods" as they are affectionately known, have become quite the designer pet as of late. Thankfully, so far, Paris Hilton et all have not discovered this trend.
Unfortunately, this kitten owner was cash-strapped, and was forced to elect a third option: humane euthanasia due to lack of funds. The owner signed a euthanasia and cremation form, and the Siamese-mix kitten sat in a cage awaiting his fate. As the doctor on shift, it was my job to perform the euthanasia, but I stalled. After all, pain meds were on board. My procrastination had its reward an hour later when one of our vet-student nurses came to work. She took one look at the kitten and proclaimed her willingness to take over its care if the previous owner was willing to surrender him. One phone call later, and with the help of another veterinarian skilled at fixing bones, and Thomas' (his new name) broken leg was pinned together.
Cats have an amazing ability to survive large falls. In New York City, a veterinary study showed that if a cat fell more than 7 stories, it was much less likely to be injured than a cat that falls just a few floors. With the occasional absence or removal of window screens, it is not unusual for cats to find their way onto window ledges and airborne danger. What usually happens when they fall is that they slowly try to right themselves (by this time they have fallen 3-4 stories), and once righted, float down, parachute-like, to land on their feet. If they land before they are righted and relaxed, there are usually severe injuries because they are tense and flailing.
As I write this Blog, Thomas is curled up in my lap (occasionally introducing some typos on the keyboard), because our technician could not keep him after his leg was fixed, and she was trying to find a new home for him, and no one else would take him and well...here he is.