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Beartooth Humane Alliance: Emergency Medical Grant Report

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

Thanks to the $500 Petfinder Foundation grant, Beartooth Humane Alliance was able to offset the total medical bill of $1,181.51 for a young homeless cat with a rear-leg injury.

In mid-November, a 6- to 7-month-old intact female kitten was found homeless in a rural Montana town. She was extremely friendly and it was evident she trusted humans and was seeking out human companionship. After a thorough search for an owner proved unsuccessful, the finder surrendered her to Beartooth Humane Alliance for medical care and adoption. In the initial medical assessment, she presented for a non-weight-bearing and painful right hind leg. Upon examination, it was found that her temperature was 103.2, she was grossly underweight, and her stifle [knee joint] was swollen, hot, and painful. Radiographs indicate no trauma and physical exam reveals no punctures or bruising. Some muscle atrophy noted. Our vet treated her with Convenia, an antibiotic, hoping to reduce joint infection, and an anti-inflammatory and pain reducer, Rimadyl. The finder was willing to foster her to provide rest for two weeks. Incidental finding: She had bilateral ear mites and was treated for them.

At the end of November, the follow-up exam revealed the leg was getting worse and more painful and she had a tremendous amount of muscle atrophy up to her hip. The joint was thickened and the vet could palpate bony growth on the medial side of the stifle. It was non-weight-bearing. While the kitten was sedated, her joint was tapped to check for infection via a culture and microscopic examination. During this procedure, she had quite a bit of pain via vocalization. Convenia was repeated and compounded oral tramadol was ordered. Culture reported: no growth.

She showed no improvement by mid-December and, in fact, when she wasn’t holding the leg high enough, her toes hit the ground, causing her extreme distress. Plans were made to amputate on Dec. 17, 2015 including spay if amputation was routine.

During prep for the surgery, the vet noted she had severe muscle atrophy all along the leg. During manipulation, her heart rate spiked, requiring more isoflorane. Amputation was mid-femur and there were no complications, so she was spayed. Prognosis for a full recovery and pain-free life was good.

Named Tripod, she was sent to an experienced foster home on antibiotics and pain-control medications. Gross examination of the joint revealed severe bony growth inside the joint, especially on the medial side, with no normal epicondyles or meniscus.

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The day after Tripod’s leg amputation, the foster home reported she was doing well, very happy, getting around without any issues, and seemed overall in better spirits. She was a very sweet patient and, although her medical situation demanded extraordinary attention, we felt that her age, temperament and prognosis for a full recovery required giving her the opportunity to live a long and healthy life. Despite her having three legs, Tripod’s Christmas wish was granted when she was adopted Christmas week by her foster family, who shower her with love and attention.

Here is what one of the foster family’s children, MacKenna, age 11, writes about Gizmo (formerly known as Tripod): “When I first saw Gizmo, I felt worried for her because she couldn’t walk on one of her legs. When I started fostering her I knew that her right hind leg was causing her a lot of pain. Now I am glad that she doesn’t have pain any more since she had surgery. Before she had surgery she hid a lot; now she is coming out more for attention.
“We adopted her because she is sweet and a snuggle bear. My little sister, who is 9, and I love to play with our dog, Rose, and our other cat, Bell, and now we have Gizmo. I think she is cool because she likes to lie on her back and get her belly rubbed.”

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