Cars and cats: An unholy (and avoidable) alliance
It’s been a hit-by-car kind of week for kitties…
It started on Monday when I went for a lunchtime run and came across a neighbor’s cat who had sustained a gruesome and fatal traffic injury. Suffice it to say he’d succumbed instantly—this was no head trauma anyone recovers from under any circumstances. I’d had to peel him off the pavement in pieces—and for that I was grateful it was the tough-stomached vet neighbor who’d come across him first.
The second hit my hospital yesterday morning. He’d been found by his owner half an hour after she’s let him out for his morning stroll in the garden. “He never leaves the yard! I don’t know what got into him today!”
Spunky arrived in obvious distress. He was breathing fast, blood was in his nostrils and his mouth was hanging slack, presumably the result of his broken jaw. One of his lower canine teeth was missing and a nasty muffler burn graced his forehead.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. He was lying on his side and a hard, quick pinch to his hind limbs confirmed their insensitivity. Blood easily poured from his backside when I confirmed that his bladder was [at least mostly] intact.
After pain relievers, fluids and X-rays, the extent of the damage was easily assessed: A dislocated right knee, a high-impact fracture of the left limb’s femur (I don’t think I’ve ever seen one so totally obliterated) and the clincher: a lumbo-sacral spinal fracture.
What to do…what to do…
The owners agonized for a full thirty minutes over what best to do. I’d presented the case as bleak in terms of his future hind limb function and questionable for his fecal and urine continence. And this, of course, assumed we’d be taking him to the specialist for spinal stabilization and limb-sparing surgery.
A K9-style cart was discussed, the expenses, home care, complications, everything…
Finally, he’d been let go.
Afterwards, I couldn’t help thinking how much luckier my neighbors had been. No anguished deliberation. Not having to watch as their cat struggled to survive the trauma. It’s a horrible thing to know what you need to do and yet your cat is conscious enough to look right at you as you decide to end his life.
And then there’s the other clincher: It didn’t have to happen. Thirty minutes in the yard twice a day? Is it worth it? Maybe it is for some cats—but not for mine.