What to do when you don’t have a leg to stand on

by Andre Mangan

first published in THE ABYSSINIAN, Journal of the Abyssinian Cat Club of Australasia Inc.,
July, 1999

It was late. An ideal timeslot to do some uninterrupted work with the computer. A thud came from upstairs - investigation showed Suki , one of the cats, lying on her side just looking at me. Nothing to worry about. Back to work.
Some time later, a series of soft thuds behind me. It was Suki again. She was trying to stand but her hind legs were unable to carry the load. I quickly picked her up to assist her to stand - to no avail.
Without too much ceremony I wakened Fiona: “Something is wrong with Suki. Her hind legs don’t work.”
Suki purred while we both examined her. We were unable to find a cause for her sudden disability. Fiona used the telephone to locate after-hours veterinary services - the closest was at Forestville.
So, just after midnight, we three set off for the long journey to Forestville Emergency Veterinary Clinic. By the time we arrived, Suki was no longer purring and held herself rigid, a sure sign of pain. After a thorough examination the young Vet gave Suki an injection of Pethidine to help her manage the pain and promised to transfer her to one of Suki’s Vets at the Ku-ring-gai Veterinary Hospital the next morning. With a sense of loss we returned home.

Dr. Bill Bradley from Ku-ring-gai Veterinary Hospital had taken on the case and phoned us mid-morning. I was unable to give him a history other than the one described above. The whole thing was a mystery.
He phoned again in the early afternoon. He had repaired the damage to Suki’s right hind foot, “a very fiddly operation”, he said. Suki could come home tomorrow but had to be kept quiet. Those words were a joy to hear.

When we collected our Suki, her hind foot was bandaged in red. We had prepared for her, in our bedroom, a small enclosure with a litter tray, food and water bowls and a heated box lined with blankets for her to sleep in. For the first few days she slept a lot. Then it was time to change her bandage - now it was green. She healed slowly, over several weeks. After Suki started showing signs of discomfort and a further examination by Bill, he decided to remove the pin in her leg as well as the wire loop. This time her recovery was much more rapid. Nevertheless, it was still many weeks later that she was able to reclaim one of her favourite nesting spots on top of the clothes dryer in the laundry. To get there meant going down the stairs, jumping to a window sill and from there jumping on top of the clothes dryer.
The biggest thrill for us was when she was able to jump onto our bed to sleep at the foot of the bed where she had slept every night for the past 9 years.
Suki was truly back.

Grand Champion Zeor Silver Shiralee, alias Suki
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