Monday, October 22, 2012

A little help for Mouser Outside Cat

For several years I've fed the neighbors barn cats whenever they come over to my house. I don't leave the food out all the time as the opossums, skunks and raccoons like it, and I prefer them to not be close by.  One little cat in particular has come regularly, staying for several days, before going off on her own for a few days.  Sometimes she'll be around for a couple weeks in a row.  Since the dogs go out several times during the day she gets fed and some loving and petting when she's around.

She has learned that if I'm there the dogs won't bother her.  Ironically, she shows very little fear of them, trying to rub against them and purring.  Chipper is the only one who will stand still when she rubs against him.  The others startle and will move, or in the case of Cadee, bounce, away.  Chipper has been renamed from Charlie, since that just didn't seem to fit him well and he doesn't care what we call him as long as he gets food and to run and play.

For a long time we just called her Outside Cat.  The neighbors had a name for her, which I think is Fig, but since I wasn't sure we just stuck with Outside Cat, Outside Kitty or Outside Puddy.  Until she started to bring me mice she'd caught.  She is quite a good hunter, perfect for a barn cat.  After she'd brought several I dubbed her Mouser.  She doesn't seem to much care, so long as you pet her and scratch her chin.

About a month ago now she came in limping on her left front leg.  She didn't want me to look at it and I couldn't see anything obvious.  Since she's basically wild I figured it would be best to see if she recovered on her own.

A week later I thought I saw a reddish, sort of raw patch on the next to outside toe on her left front leg, the one she wouldn't put any weight on.  My son and I worked together to hold her carefully and put some hydrogen peroxide on her foot.  The reddish spot foamed, sure sign of infection.  There was also foaming, even more, on the other side of the same toe.  The fur hid the spot it came from, but after a bit of bubbling a thick reddish discharge came out.  We treated her foot again later that night, and again the next day.  It bubbled the next after that didn't any more.  She still was limping, and after a day she was gone on one of her rambles, limping all the way.  She is still able to jump quite well, and can move quickly if she wants to, even on just the 3 legs.

She was still limping a week later, when it was time for the dogs and Hawkeye Cat (aka Inside Cat/Puddy).  I spoke to the vet about her.  He figured it was probably an abscess.

I explained that I was afraid to bring her into the house.  Cats that live outdoors can be infected with diseases that can quickly kill a cat, like Hawkeye, who has been living indoors and not exposed to such things.  I didn't want to risk Hawkeye by bringing Mouser into the house.  Also, Mouser is an outside cat.  I know she eats dry crunchy food, and will drink water from a bowl, but no idea whether she would use a litter pan.  Nor how she would handle being inside and especially taken for a ride in a car which would be required to get her to the vet.  The vet agreed that it was a potentially grave risk and we agreed to give it another week or so to see if her foot got better and I could talk to him about her if it didn't get better.

Didn't see her for a few days, then she was back on Monday, October 15, 2012, still limping, but rubbing and purring as always.  When rubbing under her chin, which she loves, I noticed that there was dampness on her neck.  When I looked further there was a very large wound gaping open.  It was nearly 2 inches across and about an inch tall.  No blood, but it was oozing clear fluid.  The skin was completely open, showing muscle underneath.  She wasn't looking quite so fit and glossy, either.  It was late in the evening when I found this, but there was no way I could leave her to live outside with that wound.  I brought her inside, put her in a bathroom with a thick towel to sleep on, food, water and a litter box.

First thing in the morning I called the vets office.  They got me an appointment early that afternoon.  When we arrived they took her to the back to be tested for infectious disease.  They would not even consider taking her into an exam room, which confirmed my worries about Hawkeye's safety even more.  Fortunately she was negative for infectious disease.  They gave her an antibiotic shot that was good for 2 weeks, shaved the hair around the chest wound, a little bit around her bad toe on her left front leg, and another spot on her right front leg.  All were abscesses.  The chest wound was an abscess that had burst open.  They had drained the fluid out of it.  The fluid had built up in the pocket of skin under the wound, causing it to stretch open even more.  Drained of the fluids the wound opening was no longer so large, down to about 3/4 inch around.  Not nearly so large, but still plenty big enough.

The chest wound would need to be cleaned with gauze pads soaked in medication (used for surgical scrubbing) twice a day and any fluids that built up pressed out.  The vet figured it would take probably 3 or even more weeks for it to fully heal closed.  It has to heal from the outside in to prevent infection from being trapped inside.

In addition the closed abscesses on her foot and leg need to be treated several times a day with warm compresses until the abscess opens to let the infection out.

Since I will be keeping her in the house until she heals up I asked the about fleas and internal parasites.  They agreed both should probably be treated for.  They would.  So I did.  They gave me medication for several sorts of worms and I would pick up flea medication at the store the next day.

Fortunately my husband will help me doctor Mouser.  I couldn't easily have done it by myself.  She did pretty well for a wild cat, but she is still pretty well wild.  Fortunately she knows me well, and for the last couple of years I've picked her up, petted her and put her down, so she trusts me pretty well.  Ironically she is very stoic when the chest wound is cleaned.  The only thing that seems to really bother her is the warm compress on her left front foot.

Over the last week the opening has reduced in size quite a lot.  It is now about 3/8 inch high and about 1/4 inch across.  The skin and hair around it aren't looking very good.  The area was shaved, but the hair seems to be falling out as well, possiibly because the liquid that seeps out is matting it together.  We wipe the excess medication off from the surrounding hair and skin as best we can, and try to soak off any dried stuff.

At first we did the compresses twice a day, but for the last few days I've increased that to 3-4 times per day.  She is still limping and doesn't like it handled at all.

It's pretty ugly, but here are some photos taken last Friday, October 19, 2012.  As you can see, it is healing, with pink edges, not the red inflamed edges it originally had.  No pictures of that, sorry.  We had inflicted her with enough indignities without trying to add photos to it. 

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