O’Malley’s Rehabilitation and How You Can Help

You are reading the fourth chapter of O’Malley’s story.
Read the First Chapter
Read the Second Chapter
Read the Third Chapter
Read the Fifth Chapter
Read the Sixth Chapter
To Be Continued…

Hello animal-loving world! I can’t apologize enough for the way we have completely disappeared from the internet. We have been having a rough time lately, from just plain exhaustion, trying to manage O’Malley’s rehab in what little free time we have and a death in Nikki’s family which has been incredibly hard on her. We are trying our best to get back into the swing of things but please bear with us at being slow with this blog and our twitter account. Any loving thoughts for Nikki are greatly appreciated. I’d also like to give a HUGE thank you to Chelsea for keeping ILRA alive with her weekly #ShelterSketches! Now on to the more fun stuff!

The Recovery Process

O’Malley has been doing great, not that any of us expected any less from this boy. His wounds healed up great (he just had his stitches removed today) and he’s on the road to recovery. As I wrote last time, he needs rehabilitation to strengthen his muscles and make sure everything moves well and his scar tissue forms right. I’ll be straight up honest and say that we have not been able to devote as much time to his rehabilitation as we would have liked but he is still progressing and I know he’s going to come out on the other end a very healthy, fit cat. I’ve seriously been worrying about him and agonizing over the fact that everything we do now will affect O’Malley for the rest of his life and I know that we’re not doing perfect. But then I think about the alternative, of what would have happened to him had I not stopped to help him, and I know that he would prefer our imperfection to being left there alone. He’s such a loving, forgiving cat. I just love him, as does everyone else who meets him.

Now on to the cool stuff: As promised, here is an image of one of O’Malley’s X-rays. You can see his left femur completely out of the socket and the big break in his pelvis on the right.

Next up, O’Malley’s rehabilitation! I was able to get in contact with Sandra Hudson, the woman we met at that dog event, and she accepted O’Malley as a patient. The best part is that she’s giving me the rescue discount since she was moved by his story. Isn’t that great? O’Malley has been twice so far. It would have been best for him to be able to go twice a week but with my new full time schedule, it just isn’t possible. So we are going to be using his visits there as a sort of check-in and we’re going to be responsible for most of his physical therapy. The different things he does at his rehab sessions are really interesting. He starts by getting cold laser therapy. Basically she applies low-power light to his hip and it helps him heal faster! How cool is that?

Then he’s on to balancing on a balance board and a ball. The board makes him learn to shift his balance and improve his stability. The ball helps stretch his leg out and put weight on his foot. I looked into buying a balance board to use at home but the cheapest was $80 so we’re going to have to attempt to make one ourselves… wish us luck!

Then he does Cavaletti poles which for our purposes is two swimming noodles with bits of plastic piping laid over them to create a ladder rung type deal (it’s hard to explain). Anyway, we coax him to walk through it, over the pipes, so he has to lift his feet over them. This helps with his gait training and also re-teaches him where his back feet are. Sandra says that many cats who undergo trauma and/or surgery of his type have their connections between their brain and hind limbs damaged. Basically he has to re-learn where his feet are without him having to look. So he has to figure out how to lift his back legs over the poles. Kinda neat when you think about it. Anyway, we make it harder by spreading the poles out and by crisscrossing them. This works best by tempting him with treats!

The last thing we do at his sessions is also the coolest! Well, according to me, anyway. I’m sure he would tell you otherwise! Anyway, O’Malley does aquatic therapy! Yes, we actually stick that poor kitty on a partially submerged treadmill and make him walk for several minutes. He complains about it, of course, but as always he does what is asked of him. Aquatic therapy is so good because it transfers heat to his hip, supports a good amount of his weight so he can slowly add more weight to that hip, it improves his gait by making his stride longer and it forces him to continue walking which increases his endurance. It really is very cool how much it helps him. I’m sure you’ll love the video!

How You Can Help O’Malley

Now here’s the part where you can help. While we have been helped by some AMAZING people who have cut our costs by at least half by donating their time and offering discounts, we have still spent close to $500 on his recovery thus far. This is only for his vet visits, surgery, medications, vaccinations, food (since he’s on a special diet) and rehabilitation. This does not cover what we bought to do his rehab at home, litter (we don’t use clay litter in our house so it really does add up), lost wages from taking off work to take him places, etc. We are trying to be very reasonable in what we are asking help with. You can view the gallery to see proof of most of his bills (we misplaced the latest rehab bill) so you know you can trust that we’re not making this up. Also, you can see some of the bills have costs for animals other than O’Malley but we have not included this in our calculations. For instance, there is a bill of $50 for two combo tests, one for O’Malley and one for another foster cat, Jacob. We only counted $25 towards our total. O’Malley will also need to go in about a month from now to be neutered, get his FVRCP booster, and get new X-rays taken. Our wonderful vet, Dr. Jill, quoted us at $120 for everything which is an awesome deal! We would also like to take him in to rehab at least a few more times, which will cost $28.75 for each visit from now on.

So the breakdown of our costs is this: So far we have spent $485. Adding in his vet bill of $120 next month brings us to $605. We would like to take him in for rehab at least 3 more times (he has an appointment scheduled for next week Tuesday already) which would come to $86.25 for a grand total of $691.25. So for all of this, we have set a goal of raising $700 to help us with O’Malley’s recovery. I think this is awesome considering his surgery alone was quoted at $750 to $1500 by other veterinarians! Can you believe how little it cost to CHANGE this boy’s life, to SAVE it? it gives me goosebumps thinking of how so many people are coming together to help him. O’Malley thanks each and every one of you!

Donate by clicking on the widget, or go straight to O’Malley’s ChipIn page.

Need an Incentive?

So as if changing this amazing, handsome’s cat’s life for the better isn’t enough, we have some fun incentives for donating as well. When we reach half of our goal, $350, we will release a funny home video of the crazy things pet parents sometimes have to do at 1:00 in the morning. If we reach our full goal of $700 then we will release an embarrassing video of me singing to and dancing at the kids. Sound fun? Good! Thank you for all of your continued support!

O’Malley Surgery Update

You are reading the third chapter of O’Malley’s story.
Read the First Chapter
Read the Second Chapter
Read the Fourth Chapter
Read the Fifth Chapter
Read the Sixth Chapter
To Be Continued…

Hey everyone! Once again I apologize for such long intervals between posts about O’Malley. We have been super busy lately with me getting increased hours at work, going to dog events, helping at a fundraiser for Central Texas Feline Rescue, and being stuck with only one car for over a week. It’s always crazy around here but lately it’s been even more so.

Anyway, on to what you really care about: O’Malley! So O’Malley had his surgery last Tuesday, a week ago. We took him in early (along with Spunky to get another CBC which came out normal this time – yay!) and talked to the vet for a bit about how he’d been doing at home. We then left him and went to work. We were told we could call at 1:00 to find out how his surgery went. Now, anyone who knows me knows that that meant I was counting down the minutes until I could find out, waiting and worrying and just wanting it to all be over with. 12:45 comes around and I get a call from the vet. With them, no news is good news so I was frightened that they were calling but it turns out that the surgery hadn’t even begun. See, when Dr. Jill did two new pre-surgery X-rays, she say that the crack in his pelvis wasn’t healing like she thought it would. She was worried that he would have to have a plate put in and that bigger surgery would be what we needed to take care of right away versus just the FHO. So she put in a call to an animal orthopedic surgeon to ask about it. I was told that he may have to go out to another vet to have the surgery done now. Obviously we hoped he wouldn’t have to because we know and trust our vet and she knows how important O’Malley is to us even though he’s not “ours”. Luckily, after a consult, she was told to go ahead and do the FHO. Since the break in his pelvis is behind his hip, it isn’t weight bearing, so it should still be able to heal, it will just take awhile. Anyway, his surgery went great but since his operation happened so late in the day by that point, he had to stay overnight.

The next day when I picked him up, Dr. Jill showed me both his X-rays. She showed me the break she had been worried about and for the first time I got to see just how out of place his femur had been. She told me that she hadn’t neutered him like we’d planned because she said even though it’s such a minor surgery, she didn’t want to have to put him through one more thing. She told me that he was really going to hurt from this surgery just due to the nature of it. After all, she had to cut through his muscle, cut off his femoral head on that leg and suture it into muscle in the socket. She also gave me 5 days worth of pain medication (Buprenorphine) which she said was “hard to get and expensive” but that he needed it. Seriously, the stuff came with warning that say “Keep out of reach of children” and “Controlled substance, dangerous unless used as directed”. Poor boy. He was also put on a week’s worth of antibiotics (Clavamox) again which he finished last night. She also gave me a sheet of FHO aftercare. After all my briefing, she went and got him. He was laying in his kennel with no top because she didn’t want to squish him into it and she said he probably wouldn’t move if I just kept him like that. Ha! Dr. Jill doesn’t know how stubborn this cat is! He laid there quietly in the vet’s office but once we were in the car he was standing up and trying to move around so I put the top on. When I got home I tried so hard to move him into his cage without hurting him but he growled and hissed from the pain. Finally that crazy boy just stood up and walked into the cage himself! Same old O’Malley!

Since then his wounds have been healing fine. His hip looks a little funky and bulbous. I don’t know if it’ll stay like that or it’s still swollen. We’re supposed to be doing exercises with him as of 2 days ago. He’s supposed to be walking and standing, which he is, but I’m not sure it’s enough. It’s been a bit of a rush. I knew he would need therapy but I thought after like 2 weeks or more, not starting around day 5! Anyway, I called Dr. Jill today and she recommended another vet here in Austin who is certified in veterinary chiropractics and acupuncture. We also met another woman at a dog event we attended this weekend who has a whole Canine & Feline Rehabilitation & Conditioning Center. She’s apparently very well known in her field and has published scientific articles on the matter. She told us we could come in for even just one meeting where she could teach us some exercises. I wish he could be on a full therapy program but of course, sadly, it all comes down to money. I’m hoping one of them at least will give us a deal since he’s a rescue. I just want what’s best for him and know at the moment we’re lacking in the rehabilitation department. I’ll be calling both places tomorrow to see what can happen.

Thank you so much for everyone who continues to care about and ask about O’Malley’s recovery. We’ve still got a long road ahead but I’m hopeful that we’ll come out very successful in the end. We’re doing what we can and O’Malley’s such a fighter that I know his life will be amazing even if he walks a bit funny from now on. It’ll just give him even more personality! Haha. Anyway, I’ll try to take and post pictures of his X-rays soon and when he goes in to be neutered in around 2 months, it’ll be a good opportunity to get another X-ray to see how the healing of both his FHO and pelvis are coming along. I bet it’ll all look great! Also, some of you have been asking and, yes, we will be trying to raise some donations to help pay for this. Even though our vet is amazing and gave us HUGE discounts on everything, it’s still adding up. Thank you to everyone for your support. I know all that loving energy is helping O’Malley recover!

Update on O’Malley

You are reading the second chapter of O’Malley’s story.
Read the First Chapter
Read the Third Chapter
Read the Fourth Chapter
Read the Fifth Chapter
Read the Sixth Chapter
To Be Continued…

Hey everyone! I’m sorry it’s been so long since our first post about O’Malley. It’s been super busy around here with work, the kids, and attending the No More Homeless Pets Conference in Las Vegas this past weekend to help with the Toki Poki booth. I kept wanting to write an update for you all but lack of time and sleep has been getting in the way. Finally, I’m able to write more about him – and at a very important time too.

O’Malley has been doing amazingly well. He is such a strong-willed cat and always such a sweetheart. His open wounds have been healing very nicely. The only one really presenting any problems is the largest one on his hurt leg because he keeps trying to self-heal it by licking and re-opening it, but even that one is so tiny and not at all infected. Other than that, this cat has been awesome. We almost took him to the vet again once, a few days after we got him, because he had not had any bowel movements. We had been told to wait until last weekend and if he hadn’t gone by then, to bring him in. We decided to do so, Nikki went outside to clean his carrier, and when she came back inside, he had gone. Silly boy. I guess he’d decided that he really didn’t feel like a trip to the vet! He’s been doing well since then and he uses the little litter box in his kennel very well. We can’t keep this boy down! Seriously, he won’t stop standing and walking around, on a broken pelvis and dislocated femur! We wish he wouldn’t, of course, but then we also have to admire him for how strong and determined he is. That gives me great hope that he will recover very nicely from his surgery despite his FIV status.

Speaking of which, O’Malley’s surgery is tomorrow (or rather today, now that I look at the clock). When my vet came back I spoke to her on the phone and she was available to do the surgery either last Thursday or this Tuesday. Nikki and I debated for awhile on which to choose. Obviously we wanted him to be fixed and on his way to true recovery as soon as possible but we also wanted to be here for him afterwards. Since we were gone for the weekend, and even though we trust our petsitter completely, we still decided it would be best to wait until we could be here so we could take care of him ourselves. I’m assuming he’ll be on more antibiotics and possibly pain meds but I’ll let you know all the details after the surgery. Again, he’s going to get an FHO, femoral head ostectomy. From what I’ve read about it, it seems like a great option and, as my vet said, “the answer to a more comfortable life”. His recovery should take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks so we’ll have him for a good time after this but I also hope that with such an inspirational story, he’ll have no trouble finding the perfect forever home.

Still, I am worried about his surgery, as any foster parent would be, so we would very much appreciate all the well-wishes and prayers and healing energies you can send O’Malley’s way. I know he feels it and I know he appreciates it. He is such a sweet, beautiful, loving cat. I can’t believe that after all he’s been through, he still just wants to crawl into your lap and be pet. He deserves the very best and we’re going to do our very best to give it to him. Thanks, friends. I promise it won’t be so long until his next update. I’ll let you all know how his surgery went ASAP!

World, Meet O’Malley

You are reading the first chapter of O’Malley’s story.
Read the Second Chapter
Read the Third Chapter
Read the Fourth Chapter
Read the Fifth Chapter
Read the Sixth Chapter
To Be Continued…

O'Malley The Alley Cat!

The Beginning

O’Malley is lucky to be alive. I was on my way to work yesterday when I saw a cat lying on the side of the road. I thought it was dead but as I passed I noticed that its head was up. It took me just a split second to realize that a head up meant he was alive, I was supposed to be at work in 10 minutes, and I HAD to stop and help him. I whipped my car around, parked in an apartment complex across the street, rolled down the windows a bit for Snarf who was in the back seat and ran back to him. I had to wait to cross the four lanes because cars and trucks were going by and I was so scared one was going to hit him right as I was trying to save him. I ran over there and saw that he was alert but he was covered in dirt, debris, open wounds and, worst of all, ants. They were crawling all over him! I pulled him out of the road and onto the grass and picked all the ants off of him while I called my vet. The secretary told me our vet was out for lunch but would be back soon. So I scooped him up and carried him back across the road to my car and just laid him on the front seat since I didn’t have a carrier. On the way to the vet he panted a lot and I worried for him, especially when he just hung his head off the seat.

Once at the vet, they brought me a carrier to put him in and Snarf and I waited patiently for our vet to return. My vet, Dr. Jill, actually left her personal lunch break to come back early just to see me and this poor cat! She’s so awesome! There wasn’t much Dr. Jill could tell me right away though. He was clearly dehydrated and she knew something was broken in his hind end. She would have to sedate him and take X-rays to know more. I left knowing that if it was his pelvis he had a shot but if it was his back, there was nothing we could do for him and he’d have to be put down. So Snarf and I left for work, hoping and hoping that his X-rays would reveal good things. I had already decided before I left, though, that if it turned out to be his back, I would leave work and go there to be with him as he was put down because I wasn’t going to let him die alone.

I, of course, was twittering during all of this, keeping people updated, and good wishes and healing #pawcircle thoughts flowed in for him! I was supposed to know after about 45 minutes but close to 3 hours later, and still hearing nothing, I finally gave in and called. His back was FINE! It made me so happy! His pelvis is broken and his left hip is completely dislocated but his back looked good. He had even eaten a little & gone to the bathroom so I was ecstatic! He stayed overnight on fluids, antibiotics & some pain meds. O’Malley will likely have to have an FHO, which is a femoral head ostectomy, which basically means have his femoral head completely removed. Scar tissue is supposed to grow around it and basically form a new joint. It actually looks like a really neat surgery so you should look it up if you find that sort of thing interesting. She told me that his surgery was NOT an emergency so it could wait until she returned because she had asked around to other vets and they quoted it as anywhere from $750 to $1500! If she does it, she’ll give us a major discount because she’s cool like that!

The Next Day

This morning when they opened I called and checked on him and learned he had done well overnight. I had felt things would be right for him but was still worried. After work I had to feed ferals before I could go get him so I was pretty much the last one there but the vet (not our usual one) and the secretary stayed late just for me! I brought Jacob, another of our fosters, with me so I could get them both combo tested. Jacob has been separated from our personal cats because he had combo tested negative before at a feral cat spay/neuter clinic but since it was batch testing, we wanted to be cautious. Jacob went first and I was overjoyed when his came back fully negative. Then out came O’Malley. The poor guy had fresh blood in some of his wounds and looked a bit upset. He was also dehydrated so the doctor had to stick him with 6 syringes full of subcutaneous water. Plus he gave him another shot of antibiotics since one of his wounds seems to go down to the muscle. Then the poor boy had to be stuck 4 times before a vein could finally be found to draw his blood! Oh my goodness but he was such a good sport. He hissed some but never tried to bite!

The Car-Hit CatThen came the waiting for his results. Something in my gut had me scared but I tried to be positive. Then some blue stain crept across the side and my heart just sank. I said “That’s not good” and as the dot became clearer the vet pulled out the test information to check on which he had just tested positive for. I was so happy when it was FIV but it’s still not what we’d all been hoping for. So O’Malley makes our SECOND foster cat with FIV, along with Storm. Now before the test, the vet had said that if he had either FIV or FelV it would be best to put him down. But once he saw it was FIV, he said to wait and discuss it with our vet, Dr. Jill. So on Monday when she gets back we will discuss how this may affect things. FIV, while not a death sentence, could affect his immune system. So he may not bounce back from surgery like a completely healthy cat would but the way Nikki & I see it, without the surgery, he doesn’t have a life. So I believe it’s worth the risk to give him a shot at a more comfortable, normal life. Anyway, I brought him home and after much shuffling around he was put in his new, small kennel. It has to be small because he’ll need to be confined for 6-8 weeks. The vet told me I would need to force feed him and use a syringe to squirt water down his throat but I think he’s a lot more comfortable here because he’s eaten & drank (a lot!) on his own. Of course, he did like it best when he could lick the wet food off my finger. ^_^ We’ll also be cleaning his wounds with hydrogen peroxide and giving him a week’s worth of antibiotics starting tomorrow. So far, so good!

To Be Continued!

And thus begins the saga of O’Malley the car-hit cat. There will be a lot more to come, I’m sure, and we’ll definitely keep you updated on his progress! Enjoy this short video of him: