Saga de Ashcat

So many of you may have already heard (or were forced to hear) the story, but I'm telling it again and it's got pictures. If you have a queasy stomach, you may not want to look further.

One day in July, a Monday, Ash the cat is taken in for routine tooth removal and dental cleaning. They need to put her under. Blood tests were done and she's given a clean bill of heath to under go the anesthesia. Here is a before picture of her:

She was put under, but the tooth wasn't removed. It was put on a "watch" list. They cleaned her teeth and the procedure was done.

She didn't come out of it well. In fact when she woke up she was woozy and couldn't move herself. She would pee right where she laid. So she stayed at the vet. Tuesday was much like Monday. Wednesday found Ash dragging herself to the litter box, to relieve herself, but there wasn't much motion in the back legs and she wasn't sitting up. We started to talk about what we'd do if she never regained full use of her limbs. Euthanasia was tossed around, but we never thought it'd get to that. Wednesday also brought news of a sore the Vet had found. It was relatively large. It was on 1/2 her stomach and went up her side a bit. She got a bit better Thursday and Friday, but Saturday morning was the "miracle".

Saturday the Vet got in and Ash was sitting up. They took her out of her cage to do more kitty physical therapy and she was walking! It looked like a drunk cat walking, but she was still walking. The bad news, the sore was larger than they thought. They had shaved 1/2 her stomach and 1/2 the way up her side. The sore was gooey and she was confined to a bathroom.

I took her home, with some cream to rub in the sore. It still progressed. She lost 2lbs over the next 3 days, or it could have been since that first Monday, so over the 8 days since this thing began. The Vet was so concerned that they sent Ash, along with one of their vet techs, to a critical care hospital where she stayed for 6 days, at no charge to us. The sore was still gooey and smelly.

While she was at the critical care hospital, the sore, they found, actually went all the way up her side. She wasn't eating very well. Jeremy suggested taking her hard cone off. She needed a hard cone because she had started licking at the sore and it wasn't helping the healing process. She got a soft cone and started eating.

We brought her home and confined her to a bathroom for a bit. The Vet called about a hyperbaric chamber treatment, pure oxygen just like for people. We went to this second animal hospital for a consult. They determined Ash was a candidate for this treatment, they set us up with a 40% discount. I think I would have done anything at that point. She stayed at that hospital for 5 days, getting in that chamber twice a day. I hated having to leave her in another unfamiliar place, but I knew it was for the best. I was visiting her every day here, just like I did at the critical care unit.

The change was amazing. The sore was now a scab. Hard like a turtle's shell. It was still a bit smelly, but it wasn't gooey. The biggest fear at this time would be that the whole shell would come off in one piece, leaving a huge open wound that had nothing to protect it.

I should tell you at this time that her skin was dead. They didn't know how deep it went, but basically what happened was this: Ash threw clots, most likely a reaction to the ketamine injection which is a common way to sedate animals before applying gas anesthesia. One clot had landed on her nervous system, causing the temporary paralysis. The other clot landed on her arterial system, causing a lack of blood flow to the tree it blocked. In this case, it was the left side of her body. The clots break up on their own, which is how Ash all of a sudden started to walk again and why she has blood flow to the area of her body that is a sore.

So now it's August 25th. I took Ash back for her recheck, and a surgery consult with a soft tissue specialist at the second animal hospital. The soft tissue specialist as well as the on call surgeon wanted to do surgery to remove the scab and to start a process that would close up the resulting wound. My Vet and I had already talked about this and we said no. She thought that having the scab on there as long as possible would help her more.

You have to realize that, between the critical care hospital, the second animal hospital and our family vet, Ash had maybe spent 1.5 weeks at home during the month of August. We thought it would be best to let her rest and relax, as much as she could, at home before we stressed her with surgery. So I took her home and we waited.

I brought her in to my Vet every 3 days, just for observation. Ash continued to get better. She was walking around, a bit off balance due to the scab, she was jumping. We gave up keeping her in a bathroom. She was roaming around the house trying to be a normal cat. Her scab started to smell and separate from her body. It was getting pretty pussy.

Near mid-September, we boarded her for a weekend as we went to visit family. I put her in a hoodie that someone gave to our dogs. It helped keep the smell in and we didn't have to see the scab. Dual purpose. Everything went well during the boarding. They didn't really check her wound too much, as she seemed to be doing better.

I ended up washing the hoodie, putting it back on her and then tossing it the next day. It was so full of ick coming from the wound, it wasn't worth washing it again. I took her back to the vet that next Wednesday and the Vet decided to take the scab off. It was only connected by little threads of tissue and they decided it wasn't doing anymore good. The Vet thinks it weighed close to a 1/2 pound. Below is a picture of the wound after they took the scab off. That big white space near her tummy is 1 layer of muscle that separates her insides from the outside.

The clot affected more than just the layers of skin. It killed some of the muscle. There was an area on her body that was covered by only 1 layer of muscle. There should be 3 layers of muscle, then the layers of skin, then the top layer that contains the hair. They wrapped her up and we continued doing this for 2 weeks. I went for another consult with the soft tissue surgeon. We decided to insert sutures, 2 rows, that they pull together like a corset. This stretches the skin to cover the wound and also gives the Vet something to tie down the gauge bandaging to. They didn't have to wrap her whole body anymore, just change out this one area. The goal is to close the wound until it becomes a small laceration they need to stitch up.

She's still confined to a bathroom. With this procedure she's really supposed to be in a cage with food and water. Only being let out for supervised potty time. Jeremy couldn't get her back into the cage the second time he let her out. So we blocked the tub and toilet from her and let her have the run of the guest bathroom. She stays on her pillow most of the time. It seems to be better now that I blocked off the door from the other animals, but left it open. She gets more air this way and can see us.

This is where we are today. The wound had shrunk to about 50% the size it was when the scab was first removed. Which was already 25% smaller than it had been before the hyperbaric chamber treatment. It's looking so good that Monday, when I picked her up, the Vet told me they're already using some of the sutures from the second row. The Vet also told me that the area that was just covered by 1 layer of muscle has now shrunk to roughly the size of a dime. Once it starts getting covered by the second layer of muscle, we'll know everything should be alright.

Apparently Ash is like the Cheerleader in Heros. She's healing faster than anyone predicted. I credit that to her youth, she's only 4, and the hyperbaric chamber treatment.

I'll keep you all posted. Hopefully I'll have some after pictures soon!


DoriAnn said...

I'm so sorry you and Ash kitty had to go through this. What a kind soul you are to do what it takes to make her well.

P.S. the hoodie made me laugh!

Jen said...

Yas, you are cat-owner extraordinaire.

Viv said...

Yas, what a great kitty mommy you are. I hope she keeps up the speedy recovery!!

Tammy said...

OMG! Poor Ash cat. So sorry she (and you) had to go through all of this.