Saving a kitten makes a vet reflect

Given her gorgeous nature and our attachment to a cat we named Legolas, Mdzananda staff decided to amputate her tail and hind leg and hope for the best.This story comes to us from Brian Bergman, Head Veterinarian at the Mdzananda Animal Clinic.--CP

Two weeks ago a community member brought a stray kitten to Mdzananda after it had been run over by a fork lift at a factory. The kitten had a badly broken leg and a limp tail. Radiographs revealed a fracture of the tibia and fibula as well as dislocation of the caudal vertebrae where it joins the sacrum. Despite her severe injuries the kitten was purring away and responded with love and affection to any attention.

We attempted first to pin the leg and give the tail some time to see if it would heal. During the operation to pin the leg we discovered that the damage was severe and most of her muscles were destroyed. We decided to wait to see if the muscles would regenerate slightly.

After a week we could see that the muscles were not healing, and the cat’s tail was cold at the tip indicating there was no blood flowing. A difficult decision needed to be made. Should we euthanize the kitten or amputate the tail and hind leg leaving a tail-less three-legged kitty that we might not be able to find a home for?

By now we had named the black and white, green-eyed beauty Legolas. Given her gorgeous nature and the fact that by now the whole team was all too attached to the cat to put her to sleep, we decided to give it a shot, amputate the tail and hind leg, and hope like crazy that someone would give Legolas a home.

Almost immediately after the surgery, the kitten was up and purring. I’ve seen this many times during my time at the Mdzananda Animal Clinic. It never ceases to amaze me! How an animal can endure huge suffering and still purr and be up for some love. I find it inspiring.

I always compare such cases to us humans. We would be morbidly depressed and be suffering all kinds of mental and emotional anguish following such drastic surgery. I wonder if we suffer more because we think we understand what is happening to us. I wonder if there is something our four legged friends can teach us about the art of living? We take these things so personally – “why is this happening to me?”. The fact is, there is nothing personal about nature and life.

It moves and attempts to thrive in whatever conditions are available until the last breath is drawn.

In our world where we are so removed from nature, life and death we find it hard to comprehend this impersonal force that moves in all life. The little animals that we treat on a daily basis are a constant reminder to me that life is a natural cycle. It is not something we should shy away from. To do so we pay the price - and we suffer.

When we understand that life’s story ends in the same way for every being, it simply points to the great miracle of having even one moment of life. A moment to purr, to bark or to smile. A moment to meet another pair of eyes and connect. Life is precious. For us at the clinic it is a blessing to be able to help in any way to support that life and make it better for our furry little friends.

--BB

Post a comment

Experts

Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Gail A'Brunzo, Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters