Last summer, Alisha Suer and her family spent a day fishing in the Louisiana bayou. Pleased with their catch, everyone piled into the family vehicle, a Lincoln Navigator, and Alisha’s stepfather started the engine.
“There was a terrible sound, very loud,” said Alisha. “My stepdad immediately stopped the car and got out to see what was the matter. He slid underneath the car, began fiddling around with things, and much to our surprise, and horror, a kitten fell down from the engine. My stepdad immediately scooped him up and we rushed the kitten to the nearest veterinarian.”
“The veterinarian stitched him up and he spent one night with them. We picked him up the next day and took him home. He was a little traumatized, but within a few days he began to move around, and play a little. He even began to use the litterbox. We decided to name him Lincoln, so we would always be reminded of how we met him, and we call him Link for short. Although he acted like a completely normal and very mischevious kitten, he really favored his front left paw. He rarely put any weight on it at all.”
Eventually, the veterinarian in Louisiana took the stitches out of Link’s paw and everyone hoped for the best. The veterinarian recommended waiting a month before bringing Link to see a specialist. In the meantime, Alisha and Link developed quite a bond.
“Link loved to curl up in the curve of my neck. He was so small he fit perfectly. He would perch there and purr without stopping. I became really attached to him and decided to bring him home to Asheville with me.”
Alisha eventually took Link to see a specialist with the hopes that something could be done for his paw. Unfortunately nothing could be done, as Link had no pain sensation remaining in his paw. Pets who have no sensation in a paw or foot don’t realize that it is there, and often injure it without even knowing it has happened. Often infection sets in as the pet has no sensation and the trauma to foot continues. Additionally, since the limb does not have functional nerves to control the use of the leg or foot, the pet cannot bear any weight on it. In most cases, the leg causes the pet so many problems that the pet actually feels better and walks much more easily if the leg is amputated.
When Alisha returned to Asheville, she began to search for a local veterinarian for Link and that’s when she found Animal Hospital of North Asheville and Dr. Duncan.
“I really questioned whether or not I should have Link’s leg removed or not, but finally decided for him to have the surgery since the paw seemed to be more of a hindrance than a help. I waited until Link was old enough to be neutered to schedule the surgery with Dr. Duncan. I thought it would be best to do both surgeries at the same time. “
Link had surgery to have his leg removed and everything went perfectly. Dr. Duncan explained that since Link could not use his paw at all, it would be best to amputate his whole leg so that he would not continue to injure it and so the weight of a useless limb would not weigh Link down.
“I worried about how he would cope when he was alone at home after the surgery. I work all day, so he would be alone for many hours. Turns out, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. I brought him home from AHNA, opened the carrier door, and he just walked out. Before I could blink he ran across the room and jumped up onto the top of the couch! I couldn’t believe how quickly he adjusted. Within three days he was off the pain medication.”
Now at 7-months-old, Link is an almost completely normal cat. “He does everything that other cats do and more. He plays, jumps, grabs at the curtain strings, and balances on his back legs and bats at toys. He even travels with me,” said Alisha. “I flew home with him to Louisiana for Christmas. I have a carry-on bag that he travels in. People could not get over that there was a cat on the plane and that he was happy and quiet. He’s a real people cat. He can’t get close enough to you and he purrs constantly. He really does amazingly well. He’s just a little down-the-bayou cat, but he’s pretty special to me.”
A note from Dr. Duncan: “Link is a very special cat and from the first day I met him he was purring away. He had adapted as best he could to get around with his injured leg but it was much more evident after the surgery that this injured leg was holding him back. His activity level was better the day after surgery than before surgery. Link is an amazing cat and his positive attitude is an inspiration to us all.”