We first saw what became Persephone and her brother, Achilles, in the window of our local pet shop. We had been sans cats after a sad story of sudden loss, abortive adoption and lingering death. To say we really wanted a cat is to put it mildly.
We saw them and fell in love: Two kittens, brother & sister, about 8 weeks old, nearly identical, playful and social. We were hooked. Their names? My wife loves the Greek myths, thus the names.
We inquired with the pet shop clerk about adopting them but he said that we’d have to be interviewed and ‘approved,’ first. We left our number and a short time later we received a call from what we’ve since called ‘the cat lady.’ She had quite an operation: the multicar garage had been converted into a cat condo with cages of cats – mostly kittens rescued from all of the 4 county area. After the interview we were approved but we had to swear a blood oath that we would never have them declawed. We almost demurred at this but she showed us cutting their nails was easy, as they were ‘used’ to having their claws trimmed and their paws manipulated. We agreed.
This hasn’t been as much a problem as you might think since the women who runs the organization showed us how to clip their nails. Odd to note, though they are very much against declawing they have no problem with spaying and neutering – both of which we had to swear to that in a blood oath.
Our life with the guys has been great but problems began with Persephone one evening when we returned after an evening out and noticed she was down on her heals – not walking on her paws as usual. We called our vet but he said since he didn’t have an x-ray we should take her to a better equipped location.
We got the diagnosis: hip dysplasia. Sounded odd, especially for a cat. I’d heard of it for big dogs but never for cats but they said that this does occur and the operation would entail cutting the knob off of her thigh bone. Gulping, we OK’d the operation. While she would be recuperating, she would have to be confined, so I bought a dog cage and we put it in our kitchen so she could see us during the day.
After several weeks of back and forth to change the bandage, it was decided she was ready to be ‘freed.’ We were very happy, took her home but, to our horror, she was back on her heals just as she started. We called the vet and took her back and this time they x-rayed her entire rear legs and we all got quite a surprise: she had 2 broken ankles.
How the heck does a cat break an ankle? To this day we have no idea except that perhaps she had some congenital weakness. The vets apologized and it seems that because they didn’t consider it could be he ankles, they didn’t x-ray her entire legs. They, then, decided to ‘fix’ one leg at a time, keeping her confined – again – while the bone healed – with trips back and forth to the vet.
We were horrified when she was taken out of the bandage/cast and almost immediately she was down on her heals again.
Back we went and they tried a more exciting method but that – after operation, confinement, bandage changes – failed. Finally, they suggested a plate and this, after 3 operations, worked.
Now for the other leg.
First operation, same result as the left leg. The next time, they went directly to an ‘appliance’- basically, an angle iron that would ‘freeze’ her ankle. Fortunately, this worked after ‘only’ 2 operations.
While she was confined, in order that she wouldn’t go mad – in all the connotations of the word – we would take her out for ‘lap time.’ At first it took her a little time to realize this didn’t mean, ‘As soon as he puts you down, RUN!’ and eventually she learnd the rules and began to recognize the words ‘lap time’ and she responded with moving to the cage door and rocking from one side to the other in pleasant anticipation.
Eventually she was liberated and she spent time being a normal cat: she ran after her brother and vice versa, but jumping on the window sills was difficult so we gave her a small step stool to help her up to the large sill in our office.
All was bliss.