My adopted long haired tabby cat was quite sick for much of last summer. Her ongoing tummy issues turned into five-day periods of Katy not eating. It happened twice.
The second time, in September, staff at Phillips Animal Hospital checked to see if her organs were shutting down.
I could have lost Katy only three years after bringing her home.
She had other ideas. A combination of a different food, a steroid, and an anti-sickness drug resulted in only four incidents of vomiting over 14 weeks.
Katy is doing so much better, even though she needs to gain weight. When we last saw her in September, she had gone from 12 to 8.7 pounds.
Despite a good appetite, I don’t think she recovered much.
Considering what Katy has been through, this is a relatively minor flaw.
Feline health crisis:Katy the cat suffers her first health scare
For those unfamiliar with Katy’s origin story, I’ll let other people help tell her story.
From what I could piece together, Katy lived as an indoor/outdoor cat in an apartment complex on the south side of Mansfield.
Around July 4, 2018, someone put a firework in Katy’s rectum and set it off. She suffered catastrophic injuries.
Injuries left Katy’s life hanging in the balance
It was unclear if Katy could even have a bowel movement. Otherwise, she would not have survived. There were also concerns that Katy was incontinent which would have prevented her from being an indoor cat.
Dr. Andrew Scherrer performed the operation.
“Katy was a unique case from the start,” he said. “I remember when Missy (Houghton) first called us about her saying there was a cat that had detonated a firecracker inside of her. When I heard about the situation for the first time, I honestly thought it was going to end in euthanasia. I couldn’t imagine how an animal could survive something like this, but from the start, Katy was a survivor.”
Katy’s catastrophic injuries led to tough decisions.
“The tissue surrounding the anus was – well – gone, as was most of the bottom of his tail. The first step in solving such a complex problem was determining a course of action,” Scherrer said. “The problem that arose was that she had to keep having a bowel movement and urinating, and that would greatly contaminate her wound area.
“Infection was a constant threat to Katy initially, and the idea of her feces or urine contaminating her wound every time she had a bowel movement or urticated prompted me to take her to surgery. “
Scherrer described the procedure.
“The operation was quite routine. We cleaned the area as best we could with antiseptics, then removed any tissue that was too damaged to salvage and sutured the healthy tissue,” he said. “Initially it included the skin at the base of his tail, but after a few days the tissue started to undergo what is called necrosis.
“The tissue was dying. I guess the thermal blast from the explosive device just obliterated the underlying vascular supply to the tail, and without blood, the tissue died. So, unfortunately, I I made the decision to take her back to surgery to have her tail amputated and after that she started to heal quite steadily.
Complications following surgery
Even after the operation, Katy wasn’t out of the woods.
“Early on, I wondered whether or not the blast had punched a hole in her colon. It was obvious quite early on that she was forming stools, but they were moving very slowly through her colon, and I was concerned that ‘she was dripping stool in her abdominal cavity,” Scherrer said. “These animals are usually incredibly sick, and Katy wasn’t, so I was hoping we were just dealing with constipation and a sluggish gastrointestinal tract secondary to all the medications she was on and the stress she had been through.
“Finally, about a week after her initial presentation, Katy had a small bowel movement, and at that point I think I breathed a sigh of relief for her for the first time.”
People from all over, including someone from Afghanistan, called to check on Katy. Her story made people.com.
On behalf of Betty:Donations in honor of Betty White to the Humane Society of Richland County
“The outpouring of community support I saw for her over the next few days and weeks was, without a doubt, one of the most memorable things of my career,” Scherrer said. “I look back on Katy and her handling of this case with emotion. There were so many chances for things to go wrong with her treatment, but every time she needed a miracle, there was one.
“I love seeing her when she comes and I’m grateful to have been able to be a part of her treatment. There are very few times in my daily life as a vet where I say, ‘I saved a life,’ or “I made a difference,” he continued. “There are so many times in this line of work where we go home defeated and feel completely drained of feeling – but those are the memories of patients like Katy who keep me going and all the lives her story has touched. The fact that I played a small role in that, in and of itself, is enough.”
On the way back
For her recovery, Katy went to the Humane Society of Richland County, where Missy Houghton was the director at the time.
“I remember every day was a poo watch. She was incredibly withdrawn when we first brought her back to the shelter,” Houghton said. “After a bit of time and catnip, she started to come out of her shell.
“I remember we had a toy hanging from the door frame, and she loved that toy! She didn’t like being held too much, but she liked looking at everything. I always thought she was a pretty girl. hard for her to pull through, and I just wanted to give her every chance I could.”
For the most part, Katy still doesn’t care about being held, but she’s grown more loving in recent months. Every time I lay down and fall asleep – which is all the time – she joins me. Sometimes she reaches out with one of her feet to touch my leg.
When I get home from work, Katy jumps on the bed for me to pet her. She had never done this before.
Katy even came with the groomer. The first two times I took her to see Allegra Anderson at the Ashland pet store, Katy squirmed and complained about being held back.
Allegra had to have a second person to help hold Katy.
Recently, when we came back for the first time in 10 months, Allegra didn’t need backup, although I helped hold Katy up for grooming the underside. I rubbed it with my nose.
She has come so far.
“I’m so proud of how she recovered and I know how loved she is now. It was everything I hoped for her,” Houghton said.