My husband, Marc, and I didn’t know what to expect on Wednesday, the day after our cat, Alex, had his tail amputated. We were told to call the hospital at 10:30 after the surgeons had time to examine all the patients. We weren’t sure if Alex would be discharged that day, or would need to stay longer. Since the hospital is an hour away from our house, and both of our offices are at least a half hour closer to the nearest parkway, but in the opposite direction from the hospital, Marc and I decided to take one car to work, with me dropping him off, and then continuing on my way, in case Alex was able to come home.
We were both on pins and needles. We were anxious to know how Alex did the night before. Marc called the hospital at the assigned time and spoke to the surgeon. He was told that Alex was doing well, but he REALLY wanted to come home. I guess he wasn’t thrilled with the accommodations. Who can blame him?
We reached the hospital an hour later, and the girls at the front desk asked where our carrier was. We explained that Alex doesn’t travel well in one, so we would just be carrying him. “Who is your cat?” they asked. When Marc gave Alex’s full name, they replied, “Oh, him. He is really not happy here. You can go into the back and take him out of the cage yourself.” I can only imagine what Alex’s behavior was like.
We spent a few minutes with the nurse going over Alex’s post-op instructions, and then we went back into hospital. It was strange passing the tables where we knew Alex was treated the day before. When we arrived at his cage, it took Alex a few seconds to realize we really were us. He eagerly went into Marc’s arms.
Alex was amazing on the car ride home. He snuggled up in my arms, and was alert. I live in a town house with pretty much every room on a different level. In addition, we have a very open floor plan with minimal doors. In fact, our bedroom doesn’t have any doors. So, in order to keep Alex confined, Marc, Alex and I moved into a spare bedroom.
We brought Alex into this room as soon as we got home. We expected Alex to be groggy and fall right asleep. He wasn’t. He kept on going into his litter box and just sitting there. In fact, several times he looked like he was about to fall asleep there. Marc’s brother said his cat did the same thing following the amputation of her tail. They both must have had the sensation that they had to go to the bathroom but couldn’t. As soon as he was able to take care of all his business, he stopped hanging out in the litter.
The hospital sent Alex home in a soft cone. It took about forty-five minutes for him to figure out how to maneuver himself to get to his stiches. So, with Marc keeping a close eye on him, I headed to a local vet to get a replacement hard collar.
On Wednesday, Marc and I didn’t leave the room at all, except to answer the door for a pizza delivery. Alex was very uncomfortable. He also was feverously trying to bite off his pain patch. Marc and I were worried he would succeed and also manage to outsmart his cone again. We kept constant watch over him.
Marc and I were fortunate that we were both able to work from home on Thursday and Friday so we able to keep an eye on Alex. Thursday morning, Alex woke up, and it was clear that he was feeling a little better. Hearing him purr was music to our ears. Marc even saw him wag his stump.
Later in the day, Alex realized that he was able to stick his front paw through the cone. The gauze that tied it wasn’t thick enough. So Marc and I fastened one of my scarves into the cone to make it more secure. Alex wasn’t thrilled with my choice of a scarf, as it was too “girly” for his liking. Fortunately, he sent a picture to his girlfriend Gracie, and when she told him that he still looked as handsome as ever, he no longer was concerned….
By Thursday night, Alex was wagging his stump at regular intervals. It was beyond amazing to see. With every wiggle, Marc and my heart filled with pride. Sadly, late Thursday night, Alex became pained. His whines and cries tore at our hearts, but fortunately the pain medicine kicked in quickly, and he fell fast asleep.
Friday morning, Alex seemed even happier than the day before. He was eating well and playing. He had a really good day. Marc and I left the room for several hours at a time, as we wanted him to start to get used to the fact that we won’t be able to stay with him 24/7 forever. He didn’t seem to mind.
We didn’t have to dispense any pain medication Friday night, and this morning we removed his pain patch. We try to remove his cone for several hours at a time throughout the day so that he can eat in peace, as well as just get a break. During this time, either Marc or I shadow him like a hawk.
I can’t begin to express how proud I am of this little guy. He was such a trouper, and continues to amaze me. I don’t think he even realizes that he is missing his tail.
It is amazing at what a difference a week makes. This time last week, Marc and I were beside ourselves not knowing what to do to help Alex. We were trying every non-evasive solution possible unsuccessfully. And now, a week later, Alex is missing a tail, but he is happier than he has been in a while.
It helps that not only does he have his parents taking care of him; he has a special nurse looking over him.
Again, thank you all so much for all your thoughts and prayers. Each and every one of your comments has helped me greatly during this difficult time. We are still waiting on the biopsy results, but the legions on Alex’s mouth and paws are healing. So we are hopeful that it means if the tumor on his tail was cancerous, nothing spread.