By Kathleen MacKinnon

No one expected Layla to survive. But against all odds, looks like she is here to stay!

A Frantic Call for Help

SPCA received a call from a woman named Kimberly about a  friendly stray cat who showed up at her house one day. The cat was laying in the grass, unable to get up on her own. As a nurse, Kimberly knew the cat needed help right away so she brought the cat inside her home. Kimberly noticed that the cat was literally “skin and bones” and wouldn’t put any weight on one of her back legs. She tried to get the cat to eat, but she wasn’t interested. So Kimberly prepared some watered down canned cat food and fed her with a syringe. Then Kimberly began calling local animal rescue groups for assistance. Once SPCA heard how badly this cat needed vet care, we knew we had to try to save her.

One of our seasoned volunteers, Katie, drove to Kimberly’s home on a Friday evening to pick up the cat and bring her to Columbia Pike Animal Hospital. Just as Kimberly had said, this kitty was extremely friendly despite her obvious physical discomfort. Like magic, the cat hobbled right into the cat carrier with no prodding as soon as Katie opened the door. The cat simply sat down inside the carrier as if to say, “Finally! You’re here to save me!” Katie, a longtime student of Egyptian belly dance, decided to give this cat one of her favorite names: Layla.

Initial Assessment Underestimated Her Injuries

Everyone at the vet office immediately fell in love with Layla.  Despite her poor condition, Layla just wanted to be petted and cared for. She weighed in at about 4 pounds. About half of her body weight had vanished. We were told that she was about 2 years old. Other than being emaciated and having a broken leg which had healed on its own, the extent of her injuries were unclear until she spent a couple of days resting and recovering at Columbia Pike Animal  Hospital. Because Layla wasn’t putting any weight on her back leg, she was given pain medication which must have eased her pain enough that she started eating on her own.

A day or so later, to everyone’s surprise, Layla miscarried kittens that nobody knew she had been carrying. When the vet took x-rays to make sure there were no kittens left inside her uterus, we discovered more about Layla’s injuries. She had a Layla diaphragmatic hernia and her intestines were literally inside her chest cavity. At that point everyone realized that Layla must have been hit by a car.

Complicated Surgery Needed

The vet explained that they could attempt to perform surgery to move her intestines back into place and repair the hernia but that her odds of survival were only 30-40%. Because the break in her leg had  nearly healed on its own, the vet speculated that Layla’s injuries were not new – that she had probably been hit by a car at least a month to six weeks prior to her rescue.

How she survived until this point is a mystery. We deliberated for a couple of days assessing our options. We got more information about her expected chance of survival, considered her after surgery care, and assessed the cost of surgery and follow up care. Nobody wanted to give up on this sweet kitty, but her odds of surviving were so poor. We were told that if Layla survived the first 24 to 48 hours after the surgery her odds were very good of pulling through.

Layla Amazed Everyone

So, with the help of the vets and staff at Columbia Pike Animal Hospital, we decided to go ahead with the surgery. Needless to say, Layla has amazed us all. She bounced back from the surgery very quickly even with an incision and staples covering the entire length of her chest and abdomen. Layla was also spayed during the surgery and continues to improve. She is putting on weight although she still has a ways to go. Both of her ankles have had some problems with swelling from injuries sustained in her accident. She’s in the hands of two longtime SPCA volunteers – one is a vet tech – who have nursed many cats back to health over the years. Once Layla is fully recovered she will be available for adoption.

Layla is one special kitty. We are all amazed that she survived being hit by a car, survived a month or longer on her own, and survived the surgery. Layla is one feisty kitty who wouldn’t give up. While she hasn’t actually learned any belly dancing yet, she is an amazing kitty who deserves a chance to have a long, happy life.

Layla recovers from risky surgery to repair her diaphragmatic hernia.