In the fine tradition of mommy bloggers everywhere, I made a few cryptic posts in online forums (see also: facebook, twitter) where I said things like “Justice’s life as an indoor/outdoor cat just likely came to a close. $500 later….” and “Justice is missing. I’m guessing someone has taken him in. Time to canvas the neighborhood.” and “Good news: Justice made it home. Bad news: his leg looks broken. At the animal hospital now with an unusually quiet and calm cat.” and “$500 later, the news is not so good. Looks like multiple fractures & torn tendons.”
Then, of course, I was silent all day. Well, here’s the full scoop.
Justice is an indoor/outdoor cat. For years he was an indoor only. The thing is, he’s super duper social. He was literally going berserk before we got a second cat, and even with a playmate, he still seemed really unhappy inside. A few years ago, cognizant that this was likely a trade-off between quality and quantity of life, we started letting him out. And he’s loved it. The other day we were walking in the neighborhood when one of our neighbors, whom we’d never met, called out, “Hey! It’s Justice!” Justice loves people, attention and scritches. He follows us on walks. He’s a dog in a cats body, and extremely popular.
Usually, he’s great about showing up at mealtimes. Once in a while he misses one, for reasons I’m not aware of, but shows up again promptly. He’s gone missing a few times, and he’s usually been “taken in” by someone entranced by him. One woman accused us of letting our pregnant, declawed cat wander loose. HE may have needed a diet, but he’s actually a great hunter (too good, really, he keeps catching squirrels) and has a fully functional set of claws, as my stairs attest.
But last night when we came home, he wasn’t waiting at the steps. Yesterday morning, when we woke up, he wasn’t strolling in looking non-chalant. (Note: he is of course fixed.) And then yesterday, after a very long day, when I got home he still wasn’t there. I called and called at the door. (Thane chimed in, which was cute but a little heartbreaking.) I had to wonder if he’d been permanently adopted by someone, despite his collar and chip? If he’d fallen afoul of a coyote or a car? Just as I was prepping to go call through the neighborhood and see if anyone had seen our local celebrity, I heard the tinkle of his bells. Slowly.
From under the car there emerged a familiar figure. (He likes hanging out under the car.) But only three of his four legs were touching the ground. He looked quite bedraggled and ungroomed. And he had a serious air, quite unlike him.
I got him inside and took a look. The angle the leg was at looked anatomically improbable. 8 pm. I heaved a big sigh and called our vet, who had information on a local 24 hour animal clinic on the phone. Justice and I, and my husband’s Kindle headed out to spend a long quality evening in a vet hospital waiting room.
The vet said that yes, it was broken. The X-rays show that he fractured multiple tarsals and snapped the tendons in his leg. He’ll never have normal use of it again. We’ve splinted it, and he’s in a cast for 6 to 8 weeks. (Note: cat in a cast = very pathetic sight.) But he’s eating. He looks tired, but ok. He’s still trying to move around, and he’s purring and interested. Hopefully the damaged joint will fuse. It will never be as strong as it was. He’ll probably always have a limp, but cats are very adaptable.
We’re not really sure what happened. I suspect it took a great deal of grit for him to get home — I’m grateful that he did. The vet said it didn’t look like anyone hit him with a car. Most likely his leg got trapped, and it was the weight of his own body that did the damage. So I guess we’ll see how this turns out, and how he recovers.