It's always nice to be able to share a sad story that has had a happy ending. About two weeks ago one of our regular clients of the clinic brought a little 5 week old orange and white male kitten because he appeared to have an injured hind paw. (Side note: These people are AMAZING, they are the epitome of "good Samaritans." Although they aren't wealthy by any means they do absolutely everything they can to help the little stray kitties in their neighborhood. They have spent a lot over the last few years on their own cats and strays that eventually become theirs as well.) She reported that the day before the little guy was running around apparently normal. Then this morning she found him in her yard limping. He was one of three kittens that suddenly showed up in their yard a few days prior. The mom was nowhere to be seen. Upon examination of his paw we discovered that he had a partial amputation of his leg by unknown trauma. Poor little boo. I assume many people would think euthanizing him would be in the best interest of their checkbook (he was a stray after all) and the kitten. My vet exchanges a look with me and before we could say anything the foster mom asks "What can we do to fix him?" The doctor and I both smile. We were all glad to give the little guy a fair shot at life. We named him Hercules.
After determining that we should amputate--rather than leaving a partial limb that he may hobble on and accumulate pressure sores/arthritis--we discussed with the foster mom and she gave us the go ahead. The concern was that he was 4-5 weeks old and less than 2lbs. He was 1.4 pounds to be exact. We weren't sure if we would be able to intubate him with an endotracheal tube that would administer oxygen and isofluorane anesthetic gas. The plan was if we could intubate him do a complete amputation of the limb at the hip joint. Since he was so young we knew he would do extremely well and likely not even realize he was missing anything. If he was too small we would clean up the wound and bandage it until he was big enough to do surgery. In the meantime we put him on some pain medication and antibiotics it was Saturday so we would do surgery Monday after making sure he was ok otherwise. Blood work was normal. Surgery day came around and the little tube we had fit perfectly! Proceed to surgery!
Since he was the youngest and smallest patient I have ever anesthetized I spent several hours the night before reading articles about neonatal/pediatric veterinary anesthesia, drug dosages, after care, special recovery instructions. There were a few things we had to do different. Usually you fast for about 12 hours prior to surgery but with so young and small patients you worry about their blood sugar (blood glucose) getting too low, we had to feed him about 4 hours prior to surgery and then fast. I read their heart rate is generally a good deal higher than older (but still young pets) under anesthesia. We had to stay on top of his temperature, they get so cold so quickly when they are so little. It was a very high anxiety hour for me but he did extremely well with no problems and the doctor did an amazing job on the surgery. I had one hand on his little chest for a lot of the procedure (under the drape) just making sure his little heart was beating (even though my monitors said so, you have to check manually!). He woke up a little freaked out but we all took turns cradling him in warmies (warm water bottle thingies) and towels. He finally fell asleep and once he fully woke up from anesthesia he was a happy camper. The next day his foster mom reported that he was attempting to RUN around the house on three legs and was chasing a ping pong ball as well as the other cats.
The greatest news is that Hercules has found his forever home. He new mom and dad came by the clinic today to meet him and his foster parents. And of course it was love at first site and they took him home.
What a happy boy! Also he may have a new name, Roosevelt, with a Roo. I think that's cute, but I'm just glad that we found someone to love him.
Edit: His new mom posted on facebook that his name has been decided—Franklin. Cute!