I have a black tiger cat that is eight months old. Her name is Tuna.
Somehow, the rambunctious little thing managed to break her ankle a week ago. I didn’t even realize cats had ankles. And have you ever heard of a cat breaking its leg? Tuna is not even an outdoor cat.
I remember hearing a noise downstairs that morning, and a meow afterwards, but that sequence of events was not unusual. Tuna would often knock things over, play with potting soil in our houseplants, or scatter placemats on the kitchen table (even though she wasn’t allowed up there). She loved to chase after rubber bands, tossing them up in the air with her paw and then tackling them to the ground. In that process, she often knocked things over.
But whatever she did, she clearly did not land on her feet. We have a loft in our new house above the great room. Sometimes Tuna would wind between the balusters in the railing or take a rather risky leap from the loft to somewhere on the stairs. The vet said that if she got hung up on her way down, then that could have been the cause. Cats are usually quite agile, as you know, and they do have nine lives.
Tuna’s got eight now.
She also now has a leg covered with a foot-long, hot pink cast with little paw prints on it. The cast goes from her right hip down to her toes.
Casting was an easy decision—it was a mere four hundred dollars to x-ray her leg, put the bone back into place, and to cast it. Surgery would have been more on the order of eleven hundred dollars. Either way, she had to wear a cast and live in a dog crate for a month. With a litter box, a place for food and water, and a towel for her to lie on, there’ s not a lot of space left in her new home—let alone space for her to swing her hot pink cast around. Imagine her trying to use the litter box with this monstrosity on her leg. It’s a bit amusing to watch, and sometimes she misses.
We try to take her out of Alcatraz as much as we can, but we have to make sure she’s somewhat immobile while she’s free. Because cats sleep about sixteen hours a day, it’s not impossible. We can plop her down on the couch and sometimes get a good two hours of dozing out of her without her trying to escape.
But cats are also genetically wired to hunt, and for mad bursts of energy. Tuna’s favorite activity is sitting on the windowsills and squeaking at the chipmunks, turkeys, and deer that come in the yard—and then going after them (from the inside). But these days, the windowsill is a death trap—she can’t fit all four legs on it and balancing is out of the question.
You know how normally you can’t hear a cat walk? We can hear Tuna, by the subtle sound of her leg dragging after her on the carpet. We have to keep an eye on her all the time, and for the most part, hold her, or make sure she is asleep. All of that without tranquilizers.
There was one three-hour period where we lost her somewhere in the house—she must have dragged her casted leg underneath a piece of heavy furniture. Hopefully she didn’t knock it on something in the process. So don t tell the vet about that. That has to stay a secret between us.