Diagnosis: Fractured femur and dislocated spine
On the evening of November 6th, Nicole’s Pomeranian Tink was obviously trying to tell her something important. She kept scratching at the front door and barking at Nicole. This was unusual behavior for Tink. Once Nicole opened the door to see what all the fuss was about she got a big surprise – two tiny kittens were sitting in a cardboard box. They appeared to be about 4 or 5 weeks old and one of them had an injured leg.
Nicole works as the overnight technician at BRVC so she brought the kittens in to be checked over by a doctor. Dr. Stefanie Wong took x-rays of the injured kitty and it was revealed that she had a fractured femur and a dislocated spine. In addition to the broken leg, Willow (as the kitten was now being called) had a limp and immobile tail – a sign of nerve damage. Upon observation, it was discovered that Willow was unable to urinate on her own – she would strain while in the litter box but nothing would come out. This was also a symptom of nerve damage from her dislocated spine. While we will never know exactly what happened to Willow it is very likely that these injuries were a result of being hit by a car.
Dr. Wong and Dr. Baine worked together while caring for Willow. First and foremost, she needed to have surgery to repair her leg. A cast will not work for a broken femur as the fracture is too high up on the leg. It was decided an intramedullary pin (i/m pin) should be used to help secure the bone. The pin is placed in the bone’s medullary cavity (basically the center of the bone) and allows it to heal over the course of several weeks before being removed. After the procedure Willow would need to spend 4 to 6 weeks with restricted activity. She would need to live at BRVC during that time in a kennel in Patient Care to make sure she didn’t try to run and jump around.
Willow’s spinal and nerve damage presented a different challenge. There was no surgical cure for this. She needed rest and time in order to give her body the chance to heal – and there was a strong chance that the damage might be permanent. During her first few weeks in the hospital, technicians had to manually express Willow’s bladder a couple times a day. The staff anxiously observed her hoping that she would eventually recover the ability to use the litter box on her own. Thankfully, after three long weeks, she started to urinate on her own. Our staff had fallen in love with this little lady and it was an exciting day when we knew she was starting to get better!
While Willow lived at BRVC and slowly healed, her sister kitty was adopted into a loving home. At first Nicole had planned on just fostering Willow, but when she discovered the extent of her injuries she decided she was the most qualified to give Willow the special care she might require if she didn’t heal completely. As time went on though, Willow continued to get better. She became a staff favorite and she loved perching on shoulders while giving little kitty kisses. She was tuning out to be a very well socialized kitten with all the handling and love she received!
After 5 weeks it was time to remove Willow’s pin. She was regaining more and more feeling in her tail and hind end. She was now flicking her tail back and forth as well as chewing at the base of her tail. The return of sensation can be uncomfortable at first, hence the chewing. She developed a few “hot spots” and had to wear a blue lampshade collar to keep her from chewing on herself. Despite the indignity of the collar, Willow’s time living at BRVC had come to an end. Her pin was removed successfully and she was pretty much fully recovered. It was time for her to go to her new home – with Nicole and the little Pomeranian who rescued her so many weeks ago!