To Help Just One Cat in Your Neighborhood!

By Kathleen MacKinnon

It Takes Just One Caring Person to Make a Difference

A very sweet cat named Phoenix is now safely off the streets because someone took the initiative to help him…and not a moment too soon!

Phoenix showed up, out of nowhere, one evening in Julie’s backyard. When he tried to walk, he hobbled on just three legs. With so many outdoor cats in her neighborhood, Julie didn’t know if this cat was friendly or feral. And even though she looks out for many of the outdoor cats in her neighborhood, Julie had never seen this cat before – a bright orange tabby amidst a colony of brown tabby cats. Phoenix immediately stood out in the crowd.

Julie managed to coax him onto her back porch and was horrified to see close up that his right front leg was swollen three times its normal size and he was obviously in horrible pain. Despite his condition, Phoenix didn’t hesitate to climb right into her lap for comfort. Julie brought him inside her home and put him in a large cage to separate him from her cats. She took photos then contacted us for help. As soon as we saw photos, we told Julie to immediately bring this poor cat to Columbia Pike Animal Hospital as an emergency late that evening. My initial impression after seeing the photos was that his leg was broken and gangrene had set in.

What Happened Next Surprised Everyone – Vet Staff Included

We couldn’t have anticipated what happened next. After examining Phoenix, the veterinarian told us that he had lost most of the movement and feeling in his leg. He also had a severe infection and a raging fever of 105 degrees. What was the culprit? Someone had wrapped a rubber band tightly around his leg just above his knee! This was no accident.

That night, the veterinarian was not optimistic that we could save Phoenix’s leg. We decided to start him on antibiotics and pain medication, let him rest over night, and reevaluate his condition in the morning. To everyone’s surprise, by the next morning Phoenix had regained a little movement in his paw and some feeling in his leg.

The veterinarian recommended that we give him a few days to get the infection and pain under control so we could better evaluate whether his leg could be saved or whether it would need to be amputated. After a few days, Phoenix had regained a significant amount of movement and feeling in his leg and the infection was under control. To show his resilience, Phoenix let everyone know he didn’t like being cooped up in a cage and “insisted’ on being let out to hobble around the vet office. Needless to say, Phoenix stole everyone’s heart!

Phoenix Gets a Much Needed Chance to Save His Leg

We were lucky to have a veterinary technician offer to care for Phoenix in her home. He would require a significant amount of care over the next several months. His leg would require regular bandage changes, antibiotics, pain medication, and careful monitoring. Since this healing process would take four long months, the veterinarian recommended we try skin grafting to quicken the healing process. This worked like a charm!

Except for stiffness in his paw and claws that won’t fully retract, Phoenix has fully recovered from this ordeal. He jumps, runs and plays just like any other cat. He even likes to “torment” his canine playmate – a German Shepherd-Doberman Pinscher mix. And, we are happy to say that the veterinary technician who cared for him for months has adopted Phoenix as her own!

The paw on the left is swollen and the claws can no longer retract from the swelling.
The pink line shows where the rubber band had cut off circulation in the leg. The fur and top layers of skin have fallen off on the entire leg due to lack of blood circulation.
After months of care, Phoenix’s leg is finally healed. Phoenix has regained use of his leg and can even groom himself.