In late August, Asheville Humane Society brought a severely injured but adorable seven to eight week old kitten to Animal Hospital of North Asheville to see if we could help him. He had been hit by a car, and had multiple injuries including a broken right rear leg, an extremely large hernia (muscle tear allowing the abdominal organs into a space under the skin), and a dislocated carpus (wrist). This terribly injured little guy was such a sweet boy, purring through all of his exams and procedures. Of course, the hospital staff fell in love with this brave boy! With Asheville Humane Society’s approval and Animal Hospital of North Asheville providing the funding, we began to do everything we could to save his life.
Dr. Susan Wootten did the initial assessments and started supportive care and pain medications. Dr. Jim Earley quickly became involved as the kitten’s surgeon to assess the injuries and the likelihood of a successful recovery, which was far from certain. Multiple injuries are always serious, but the thought of a 2,000 pound car injuring not only two legs, but also the abdomen of a three pound kitten is a tough battle to win. This presentation is always tricky because the patient must undergo a period of treatment to stabilize before tests and surgery, but the injuries cannot go uninvestigated and untreated for long. The decision of when to operate is always a balancing act.
The damage to the leg was so severe that amputation was the only option. The only way to fully know how extensive the injuries to the abdominal wall and abdomen were was to perform an abdominal exploratory surgery. Blood tests, X-rays and ultrasound were done prior to surgery to evaluate the likelihood of success, but questions still remained. As this brave kitten began to stabilize and regain some strength, Dr. Earley and the surgery team made preparations for the extensive supportive care the kitten would need during the long surgery. Among other things, maintaining the body temperature of such a small kitten while the abdominal cavity is opened to evaluate and repair the large hernia and while the crushed rear leg is amputated was of major concern. Our team was so proud when the tiny boy came through surgery with flying colors and with hardly any drop in his body temperature. The last thing to be done before taking him to recovery was to stabilize his dislocated wrist. Everyone at AHNA sent up a cheer when the tiny boy was brought to recovery and congratulations were in order for Dr. Earley in his repair of the severe wounds. Our nursing team took over with Dr. Earley’s written orders and began to provide loving intensive care, day and night. Among other things, they made sure that he received drugs as needed to prevent pain rather than try to treat it after it escalated. By assessing the patient frequently and recording the results of a multi-part pain score, we can pick up on slight trends in vitals that indicate pain is beginning. Patients who have their pain prevented or treated early generally heal more rapidly and usually require less pain medication.
The kitten would need to remain in the hospital for a long period of treatment, pain control, and specialized nursing care and there was continued worry of complications, but Exam Room Assistant Cindy Radcliffe had fallen totally in love with this brave kitten. Cindy decided she wanted to add him to her family and began the adoption process with Asheville Humane Society. She named him Manwich Franklin and had her fingers crossed that he would make it. Manwich was an incredible patient and rapidly recovered from surgery and made great progress during the first post-op week. Unfortunately, Manwich developed a fever nine days post operatively. Dr. Earley did several tests to find the source of the fever and resolve it, since it is very unusual to see a fever develop after surgery. One thing he did was to perform an abdominal ultrasound to look for surgical complications, and he found that fluid was accumulating around the left kidney. Also, the pancreas and colon were closely associated with the kidney capsule. Using the ultrasound, he guided a needle to the fluid and obtained a sample of the fluid, which was sent for analysis and culture. Dr. Earley made the decision to take Manwich back to surgery where he performed a procedure to allow the fluid to drain while preserving the kidney. Manwich, like the incredible kitten he is, recovered quickly and never looked back! His follow up exams and ultrasounds have demonstrated the surgery was a success, the fluid did not return, and the kidney was saved. We are happy to report that Manwich is now being a crazy, active, loving kitten at Cindy’s house and is all set for a great life.
Here’s what Cindy has to say about life with her dearly loved Manwich:
Manwich Franklin is a bottle cap stealing, window-blind wrecking, paper shredding ball of a kitten. He keeps me awake with his nocturnal gymnastics, his favorite being the three-legged flying-somersault-on-Mom’s-head. The little dear takes pride in exfoliating my eyelids with his little sandpaper tongue while I am trying to sleep, and he thinks that kitty litter scatter should be an Olympic sport. Oh, and did I mention that he is an incorrigible lingerie thief? Yep, his little man-cave under the cedar chest is home to a variety of purloined unmentionables.
This miracle kitten is the bane of my existence and the love of my life! Dr. Earley’s remarkable talent and total devotion saved Manwich’s life. That is a gift I will never forget but maybe someday I’ll be able to forgive.