25th Nov, 2020

Written by Dr Travis Gray (BVSc, MSc) – Cape Animal Medical Centre

Professional photography by Nat Gold ZA

It was around the middle of August when a fluffy tabby-and-white kitten was brought into the practice. She’d been attacked by two Huskies, was in critical condition, and had no known owner. The vet on duty took her in, gave her pain medication and kept her on a drip overnight. She was so wet and cold that the nurse had to use a hair dryer to warm her!

A daunting decision

The next day I came on duty and she became my case. The kitten’s injuries were severe: a massive hernia in her lower abdomen and two deep gashes over her back. Usually, with trauma cases as severe as this, humane euthanasia is considered, but this kitten was bright, eating well and interacting with anyone who approached her cage. She had a will to live.  

After waiting a few days for the owners to come forward, I decided to operate on the hernia at my own cost. It was a daunting decision to operate as I had no clue what I was going to find inside, or if she was even strong enough to handle the anaesthetic.

The damage was severe

Fortunately, this little girl is a trooper, and she remained stable throughout. I can’t say the same for my nerves, though. The damage done by the dog bites was severe, and squeamish readers may want to skip to the next paragraph.

The hernia was actually a pregnant uterus that had slipped through the muscle layer of the abdomen, so it was sitting right under the skin. Worse, the uterus had ruptured, and the semi-formed kittens were floating freely within the abdomen; some of them were separated from their placentas as well. Fortunately, the other internal organs appeared unscathed.

Closing up after the surgery was also a challenge, as the abdominal muscles had been torn to shreds and had to be pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle to make sure the hernia didn’t form a second time.

A big decision

It was at some point during this procedure that I decided: if no one came forward, I’d adopt this little kitty. Her recovery in the hospital was uneventful, aside from a few stitches that were pulled out a few days after the operation. It was about a week after the operation that I eventually took her home.

Despite being discharged, her road to recovery wasn’t over. Fluid began to accumulate under her operation sites, and I was worried that the hernia was forming again. This time, while she was under, we microchipped her. After all, she had a home now... I decided on the name Falcon.

The wounds took a further two to three weeks to heal. During this time, Falcon was confined to a single room in the house and was forced to wear a cone so that she didn’t pull her stitches. She also had to take pain medication and antibiotics, which was a mission to get into her!

Now, three months after she was found, Falcon has recovered fully. Her fur has begun to grow back, and she moves around as though nothing happened. She’s quite the homebody, not venturing far from the house, and she loves playing with her brother, Natsu. I’m so glad we could save this brave little cat and give her a second chance at a great life.

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