The above video is of Hope – a kitten who seemingly had no chance of ever being able to live a full life. This was made possible by a grant given to us by the Ian Somerhalder Foundation which you can read about by clicking here. They fund great recovery projects. She was often referred to as the kitten who could. This video was taken after her spectacular recovery from a catalog of injuries and problems that mounted against her very quickly including fractures and neurological problems. Read this full blog post to learn about her and how we all overcame the odds together.
The lesson I learned from Hope is that we should never give up cheering for the underdog and that we should not give up until it truly is over. Weird things happen every single day, miracles happen all over the world so it is not fair to count out a cat just because they seem like they are on death’s door. Some cats are resilient and will crush the odds like there was never any doubt about recovery when you least expect it. The other lesson is that you never know what is going to come through that front door and in what fashion.
I am sure other rescuers have seen the same type of miraculous recoveries happen right before their very eyes. At the end of every day I want to lock the door to the rescue knowing that we did everything we could do for each cat in our care – that we do not have regrets because we did not push hard enough or give them long enough to recover. I am happy that both of our veterinary offices share this mindset and that they have the medical prowess to save these more severe cases. I say this because I have seen veterinarians that simply give up at the first sign of danger and wish no longer to proceed because of a bad prognosis – not around here, but I definitely saw some when I was in veterinary technician school during my externship in Saint Louis.
On to the story – I had a volunteer pull in our driveway at the cat rescue on July 24th at about 1 pm like she was on a mission and nothing else mattered at that time. She pulled out a tortoiseshell kitten from the back seat of her vehicle who obviously had something really bad brewing because she could not walk and fell to one side when she would try to walk. The volunteer said she saw her ran over in the middle of the highway. Since we believe in giving every cat a chance – I had the volunteer transport the kitten directly to Advanced Veterinary Care who is our orthopedic veterinarian in Hannibal for our cat rescue when we have a very injured cat. Doctor Paul is the expert in orthopedic surgery. We already knew the bill would be at least $1000 because I knew that this was going to be an extensive recovery.
This is the kitten we named Hope during her first day of hospitalization at our orthopedic veterinarian. She had radiographs taken that highlighted a broken femoral head on the left side and 4 pelvic fractures that appeared to be healing which was some good news at this very dark time. The prognosis given by the doctor of over 20 years was abysmal given the circumstances of her not being able to walk. We found out more was wrong once she could not urinate or poop on her own so she had to be expressed manually, had absolutely no function of her tail, was completely blind in both eyes and fell when she tried to walk. The kitten was mostly comatose. At the end of the first day she ended up having seizures.
We decided to give her three days on heavy steroid injections (Dexmethasone) and other drugs to see what it might help with since we always give it our all for every single cat. She had to be assist fed during this time and put on fluids because she could not eat or drink well. I strongly believe that if you do not think the next cat you meet is worth saving then you just are not looking hard enough – every life matters. Quite shockingly – Hope regained her tail function and could use the litter box on her own at the end of day two. After day two Hope started to move around more which was odd behavior for a cat just ran over by a car two times. So I took Hope home with me on day three of recovery for foster care through the rescue so her pelvis could finish healing. The worse part of the healing was confinement and the cone of shame because that is never any fun but completely necessary.
Hope ended up recovering all function and never had a seizure again once she was at the house. The femoral head removal surgery went really well on the last day of July. The only thing that has not completely recovered yet is her vision but I see improvements every single day. She will see the ophthalmologist in Saint Louis soon who has offered to donate his services. The veterinarian said it could take a while for that last part of her neurological function to return to normal. We even applied for an emergency medical care grant to further our rehabilitation efforts which was accepted the day before her surgery. The grant was also for Mystic which was another kitten we ended up getting the same day with a broken leg.
I guess what everyone learned from this miracle kitten is that you should never give up hope on any cat until it is absolutely impossible for a recovery to happen – when it is literally black and white like a permanent cervical fracture or something. I never gave up believing that she could recover and I am pleased that I rooted for her. We named her Hope for a reason – definitely did not name her Hope to give up quickly. None of this would have been possible without the volunteer, the community, our very skilled veterinary team and the grant from the Ian Somerhalder Foundation. If it is the only thing you take away from this post our my blog posts – just never give up on a cat even though the odds seem very much against you because the next cat may just surprise you.
This cat reminds me so much of Lucas who was the very first sick cat we accepted into our rescue who had severe septicemia of the blood stream. I will make a post about that later. Lucas had an even worse prognosis and was given a 5% chance of living through that day. That same vet saved this cat. Lucas ended up surviving and is now a 12 pound cat who is definitely thriving and receiving the best of care from a friend of mind who adopted him. Below is a picture of Mystic who is another kitten we saved through that grant to have a leg removed. I am very fortunate that we got that grant as getting a grant in your first few years of operating is extremely tough given the competition. Mystic just went home last week also which is awesome.
Hope had her cone of shame and stiches removed this morning since it has now been 14 days after her surgery to remove the broken femoral head. She is playing up a storm now with all of her brand new toys. She loves canned food. Much of her eye sight at this point has returned but there are some moments she steps in her water bowl so I am unsure if it is completely back or not but I will take any further miracles that come my way because right now I feel like we already have so much to be thankful for.
We spent over ten thousand dollars during our first year for medical bills to save cats that were less fortunate and would have never be given the time of day to recover from their illness otherwise. We expect the same amount to be spent this year if not more since we have been inundated with broken leg cases, eye removal cases and this is our third femoral head removal surgery since being open for one and 1/2 years. Medical bills are just crazy when you run a rescue.