My cat's name is Shadow. He's a rescue cat who we adopted when he was found in poor condition living near our home. We're unsure of his age but the vet estimated roughly two years at the time of adoption which was a little over a decade ago, so he is around age 12 - 13. He's my best friend and has been with me through a myriad of ups & downs.
Late the week of April 8th / 9th our family noticed Shadow starting to limp slightly favouring one leg. We planned to give him a few days to heal as he has had sprained legs in the past and we suspected it was a repeated case.
On the weekend my Stepfather found him on top of our garage which he frequently climbs to. Knowing he had an unsteady leg my Stepfather tried pulling him down from the garage but he struggled and to maintain balance my Stepfather had to reach for the fence and hold him with one hand. He wasn't dropped but he kicked furiously to try free himself. Soon after his condition worsened terribly and he no longer has the ability to walk on all four's.
We rushed him to the vet who said he likely has IVDD and had slipped a disc. I insisted I wanted an X-ray done ASAP but we were informed that in order for the X-ray to give us an indication of the extent of the injury, we need to allow time for the inflammation to reduce. He proscribed him anti-inflammatory medication called Metacam (active constituent Meloxicam) and told us to keep Shadow rested.
His current situation is as follows:
- He is incontinent.
- He does not appear in any pain.
- He is in good spirits and seems quite content, especially with all the attention he's getting.
- He LOVES his food (as he always has) and is drinking often too.
- He has lost the ability to move his hind left leg.
- He has lost the ability to move his tail.
- He has lost pain sensation in his hind left leg.
- His front legs and hind right leg have retained both movement & pain sensation.
- He is unable to stand on all four's for more than a moment and we are discouraging him from doing so.
- He has been confined to a closed off area of our kitchen for strict bed rest.
- We are discouraging him from moving outside of the bed but he has moved around during night-time or occasionally when unsupervised.
- He is only deliberately moved when giving him his medication, when he is bathed or when his bedding is changed. When moved he is held by the scruff of his neck and handled gently.
On a positive note we run a family business from home which means we have been able to provide better care than we could perhaps otherwise if we were commuting to work. I think we could continue to do so though my family disagree. We are struggling a little at the moment with COVID-19 and the strict lock down enforcement measures are putting a dampener on our business. A side effect of the reduced workload has been more time available to provide care for Shadow and at no expense to the business.
My family are not interested in the possibility of long-term care despite there being at-least one of us home most of the time. My Stepfather seems a little less resistant but my Mother is firmly against it and is already talking about euthanasia. I feel more optimistic but until we have the medical imaging completed and receive advice from the vet I am not sure what to think.
Sorry it's taken me so long to get to the point but my questions are:
- Do you have any advice for how to properly care for him whilst he is recovering? My Stepfather & I are doing our best but any input is welcome.
- Do cats who suffer slipped discs recover their nerve function? Can they regain use of their limbs? Can they regain the ability to toilet themselves?
- If so, can anyone provide account of the timeline for their own pets? I understand each case is unique and that if recovery is possible it would depend on the extent of the nerve damage.
- Is it safe for cat owners to manually express their cat's bladder?
- What would you do if you were in a similar situation with financial constraints? Bearing in mind Shadow does not appear in pain or discomfort. Is it cruel to keep him going or is it worth giving him time for a chance at some form of recovery? If indeed recovery is possible.
To anyone who reads this & replies thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love him dearly and want to do the right thing.