Case Study Report: Rehabilitation and lots of love helped this kitten recover from an early-life trauma.
“Tshirt” was presented to Leesburg Veterinary Hospital on October 10, 2013 when he was about six weeks old. He had been shaken by a dog and was in serious condition. He had a low temperature, low blood pressure, high heart rate, and was having trouble breathing. He weighed only 1.38 pounds. His rear legs were very weak. Radiographs showed severe pulmonary contusions (bruising in the lungs). An IV catheter was placed, and Dr. Boyle gave directions for fluids, pain medication, and antibiotics to be given. He received oxygen support to help his breathing. He was wrapped in warm towels with warm water bottles to help increase his temperature. In any trauma case, there is concern for the bladder, and his was carefully monitored. His condition was so serious that there was concern he would not live through the day. Every hour he lived was considered a positive sign.
Tshirt’s second day was better. He was bright, alert, and reactive, and he was eating well. He was not urinating on his own, but his bladder expressed easily. When tested, Tshirt did not have any movement in his rear legs, leading to concerns that he would not be able to walk. Tshirt’s mother is a feral cat who lives near one of our clients. The client assumed responsibility for him, and after discussing his guarded prognosis with the doctors, decided to give him two weeks before considering euthanasia. During this time, his quality of life would be carefully monitored. Since Tshirt was making gradual improvements and had tugged at the heartstrings of the staff, decisions about euthanasia were postponed.
Dr. Boyle kindly took Tshirt home for the weekend because he was still critical, and needed his bladder expressed on a regular basis. Her husband noticed that he weighed as much as a t-shirt, and the name stuck.
Dr. Krisi Erwin of Wholistic Paws Veterinary Services was consulted. Dr. Erwin is a licensed veterinarian who is certified in rehabilitation and acupuncture. She recommended water therapy, laser therapy, and electro-acupuncture. T-shirt had an electro-acupuncture session on October 13. He was given treats the entire time, and handled it well. The sessions were repeated once or twice weekly through November.
Joanne, one of our technicians, has some rehabilitation experience, and was able to perform water therapy. Tshirt was placed in a container with warm water up to his shoulders. While being supported under his chest, Joanne was able to move his rear legs as if he was walking. As long as this was done for short periods of time, the sessions went well. Joanne also did laser therapy in areas recommended by Dr. Erwin. Tshirt was given treats and handled short sessions well. He started going home with Joanne for bladder expressions, and to do water therapy, massage, Tellington TTouch, and Reiki. The massage and TTouch were probably his favorite therapies. (To learn more about these rehabilitative techniques, visit our website).
In early November, Tshirt started spending one or two days a week at the VSC Rehabilitation office at TLC West. Dr. Wentzel and her wonderful staff used many techniques to help strengthen his rear legs, including electric stimulation, acupuncture, and exercises. He is able to move his legs, but unable to bear any weight on them. In January he had two sessions in the underwater treadmill. He did use his rear legs during these sessions, but only tolerated them for about 30 seconds. Because Tshirt needed so much special care, the client relinquished ownership to Leesburg Veterinary Hospital. She continues to receive updates and pictures.
Different medications were tried to help him to urinate on his own, but none made any difference. He tolerates bladder expression quite well, and has it done several times daily.
In January, Joanne and her husband decided to adopt Tshirt; it was a decision that surprised no one. At this time, he had pre-anesthetic bloodwork done, was neutered by Dr. Kloer, and was microchipped. Joanne’s husband had grown to love Tshirt as much as everyone else, and became quite skilled in expressing his bladder.
Despite his early canine-induced trauma, Tshirt loves dogs. He often plays with Nick Fury, a one-eyed Chihuahua who lives with him. At 8.4 pounds, he now weighs more than his playmate. He is fascinated by the other cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs in his home. He will often get into the guinea pig’s house, however this makes the guinea pig less than happy.
At home, Tshirt is the easiest to find because his purr is the loudest of all the cats! He loves to play with balls, catnip mice, pens, shoelaces, Chihuahuas, and anything he can find on the floor. His front legs are very strong from scooting all over the house. Now that he is grown, he has his own set of wheels from Doggon Wheels. We expect to see him zipping around the hospital in them soon!
Tshirt is a survivor. He came very close to not living to his two month birthday, but now he is a wonderful, healthy cat. His family is very grateful to everyone who have helped him recover. The doctors and staff at Leesburg Veterinary Hospital, the staff at VSC Rehabilitation, and Dr. Erwin have been immensely helpful. Because of their kindness, compassion, and skills, Tshirt is able to live a happy and playful life.