Sugar, the Super Cat
Dr. Valerie Aliano
Tuesday, November 20, 2012. Nothing really special about that night except it was pretty mild considering it was late November in Minnesota. But that would soon change and Sugar and Diane were about to begin a 7 month journey of perseverance, determination, faith and love.
Sugar liked to go outside in the evenings. Her favorite pastime was to sit in the garden or under the bushes by the bird feeder. And watch, and watch, as cats like to do. So when she asked to got out that night, the door was opened and out she went, doing “cat things” in the warm nighttime air. She came back to the door around 10 pm and slipped in without notice. What was noticed was that she did not check out her food dish for the presence of tasty morsels or jump into her favorite chair for a grooming session and nap. Now that was strange. After about 30 minutes and a lengthy hunt, Diane found Sugar, hiding in the back of the linen closet, surrounded by blood. Stemming the panic that threatened to overwhelm her, Diane managed to get her out of the closet. And saw the damage to her leg. It was bad, very bad but Diane wrapped it up and sped to the EmergencyHospital in Apple Valley. The ride never seemed so long.
On arrival, Sugar was rushed into the back to assess her injuries and stabilize her as necessary. The news was not good. Sugar’s right front leg was severely damaged – broken bones, severe soft tissue damage, complete loss of skin over most of the leg.
The kind of damage that occurs when an animal get a leg caught in a trap…..
Diane was given two treatment options, try to save the limb which would be labor intensive and carry a poor prognosis or amputation. At 3:00in the morning, with the adrenalin rush rapidly declining, Diane was not able to make that decision. Sugar was started on pain medication and antibiotics, the wounds were cleaned and bandaged. She went home with instructions to bring her in to River Valley Veterinary Service on Wednesday morning to again discuss options and treatment.
In the few predawn hours before coming in to RVVS, Diane had nothing to do but think, and think, and think. It didn’t get any easier when she arrived at the clinic. The prognosis that we gave was no different than the emergency room veterinarian – treat with no guarantee or amputate.
And thus began Sugar and Diane’s long journey of recovery. Knowing that amputation was always an option, Diane elected to give Sugar a chance. Few owners are as dedicated as Diane. For weeks she brought Sugar to River Valley Veterinary Service on a daily basis for treatment and bandage changes. Few patients are as accepting as Sugar, putting up with the cleaning, debriding and re-bandaging.There was even the trip to the emergency clinic in St Paul during a snow storm, for the ever necessary bandage change. Sugar was rewarded with cans of Fancy Feast – very tasty but even that got old over time. Diane was rewarded with pretty decorations on Sugar’s bandages to lighten the look. Our staff thought we were pretty impressive with our bandage designs until Diane, an artist, took matters into her own hands. Her decorations were stellar! There were setbacks at times – but with the heart and courage of Diane and Sugar, treatment continued. The improvement was slow, but over the weeks and months, little by little, Sugar’s leg came back to life!
In the middle of April, 2013 the last bandage was removed and Sugar, was able to resume her normal life. She is doing great and runs laps through the house, chases her brother, Guinness, and plays with the toys that were idle during her recovery. Pretty amazing for a kitty that was supposed to lose a leg…..
One last note: Diane shared with me the story about how Sugar came to live with her. She said she was a “rescue” but went on to say that she think Sugar rescued her. On the night that Diane had to say goodbye to her 15 year old canine companion, Killian, she found Sugar at the deck door. She let her in and Sugar decided this was “the” place to be. She immediately took over Killian’s bed, food dish and spot on the bed. If you ask me, I think they rescued each other.