A Rescue Cat's Broken Jaw Was Repaired and Now Resembles a Permanent Smile

PetMD Editorial
Published: May 23, 2016
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Duchess, who has become something of an Internet celebrity and is known as the 'Miracle Kitty,' has plenty to smile about these days. Not only is the rescue cat—who was found very badly hurt—now living in a safe and loving forever home, but she's recovering wonderfully thanks to the dedicated staff of the Adobe Animal Hospital and Clinic in El Paso, Texas.    

Last October, the Siamese cat was brought into the facility clinging to life after a concerned citizen found her injured and suffering outside of an apartment complex. "The cause of her injuries was unknown," Bryan Meyer, DVM, of the Adode Animal Hospital and Clinic tells petMD. "Being hit by a car is likely, but abuse could not be ruled out as there were no other injuries or evidence of being hit by a car. The only trauma was to the face/head."    

Meyer explains that the cat's jaw was completely dislocated on the left side, but the major injury was "a comminuted fracture to the ramus [a portion of a bone] of her right mandible." Duchess was also very malnourished and covered in scars.

Euthanasia was initially considered for the cat (who is estimated to be around 3-years-old) because she was a stray with such extensive injuries. Duchess required multiple surgeries, with no guarantee of recovery.

Still, the staff at Adobe couldn't help but feel this feline was a fighter and wanted to give her a second chance at life. "Something about her instantly tugged on our heartstrings," Meyer says. "She would constantly purr, look at us with those crossed eyes, and rubbed up on everyone so lovingly; even with the pain she was in." 

With that—after she had been stabilized with pain medications, antibiotics, and IV fluid therapy—the vets decided to move on with her surgery. 

"We wired the front part of her mandible together to repair the fractured symphysis," Meyer tells us. "Then the real challenge began, attempting to repair her shattered ramus. Working with limited resources for this extensive repair, we were able to wire a small piece of bone of the ramus to the body of the mandible. This type of repair was not done to restore function of the jaw, but rather to stabilize the fractured area and allow it to heal." 

The kitty's prognosis was still not in the clear, but after giving her a feeding tube and maintaining post-op care, the hopes were still high for her. After spending a month in the hospital, Duchess learned to eat on her own by consuming a "soup" of food mixed with water created by the staff. Eventually, Duchess underwent a second procedure to remove some of her teeth because they were irritating her tongue and causing swelling. 

But even through all this, Meyer says that Duchess maintained a good attitude and was always striving to get stronger and better by the day.

Once she recovered from her procedures, Duchess—whose repaired jaw remains crooked—was able to be adopted, and was eventually taken into the care of a loving family who understands exactly what is needed to care for this remarkable and resilient cat. 

Meyer tells petMD that there are no long-term issues related to Duchess's injuries, and that follow-up procedures have been discussed, but may not be necessary. 

"At this point, we would need to perform a CT scan of the skull to fully analyze the area of fracture and healing. Once a CT scan has been performed, we can consult with a surgical specialist to see if any further surgeries could be done to correct the damage," he says. "Regardless of what happens, we know that she has a long, happy life ahead of her."

Image via Duchess the Miracle Kitty Facebook