Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Taco Tuesday

As a five month old kitten, Taco was found behind a dumpster, unable to walk or even stand. With some road rash evidence on his hips and legs, it was determined that he had been hit by a car and then dragged himself to safety behind that dumpster. One of his rear legs had two fractures; his other rear leg was dislocated from his hip, and he had two pelvic fractures.

Initially, our vet thought he would have to amputate the broken leg. The fractures were healing on their own; his leg was misshapen as a result. But that leg was strong and our vet decided that it would be able to sustain Taco's weight. The other leg had a femoral head ostectomy (FHO). What is that? With people and dogs, dislocated hips are surgically enhanced with an artificial hip joint. With cats, the head of the femur is removed and a false joint develops as scar tissue grows around the femur and hip. There is no "ball and socket" anymore but rather a free standing femur connected to hip by scar tissue.

Taco went to his foster home to recouperate after his surgery. He was confined to a kennel to keep him from running, jumping, even walking on his injured legs. In anticipation of surgery on both legs, his entire back third of his body was shaved, giving him a "pants-less" look. Taco was quite happy to sit in his bed in his kennel all day. His caregiver constructed toys that hung down over his bed so he could play even while tucked in. His food bowl would be held in front of him as he ate so that he didn't even have to leave his bed. Taco rather enjoyed this posh lifestyle. He enjoyed it a little too much. If Taco didn't have to move, Taco didn't move. He left his kennel two times a day for physical therapy to strengthen his muscles. After that, Taco lounged in his bed the rest of the day. If a toy darted past him, Taco would bat it back... but if it went out of range of the bed, Taco let it go. The door to his kennel could be left open and unattended without Taco even thinking about leaving his cushy bed. His caregiver worried about him.

One day, a new kitten moved into his room. When Taco saw her walk by his kennel, Taco leaped to his feet and DARTED out his kennel. He happily sniffed her face. Finally Taco had a reason to leave his kennel. He was in love!

For the first week, Taco played lightly with his new friend, batting stuffed mice to her and endlessly licking her head. Two weeks later, he was plodding slowly after her in a kitty game of tag. By week three, Taco was running and jumping, engaging in his favorite game called "I can top that." Literally. Indu is a skilled climber and loves to dart to the top of an 8 foot cat tower, one that actually touches the ceiling. While Taco has not ever gotten to the top level (thank goodness!), he has scooted up to the second level. The problem isn't getting up, it's getting down. Jumping down on his healing legs can be a little painful. Taco knows his limits.

After a couple of months of Kitty Olympics throughout the house, his caregiver noticed Taco limping on his FHO leg. The most shocking part - his leg had rotated 90 degrees and was almost perpendicular to the way a normal cat foot should be pointing. Taco's x-rays would show that his femur had rotated and his patella no longer rested squarely over the tibia. His knee was off-center. His muscles weren't strong enough to hold the femur in place.

One vet recommended amputation. The U gave two options - corrective surgery or, since he gets around just fine, do nothing but a little PT to help strengthen his muscles. Most days, Taco isn't in any pain. On the day or two that he has seemed a little ouchy, he gets pain killers to help him get through that moment. He runs on that leg. He plays on that leg. It just sticks out a little weirdly. He knows his limits and seems to adjust to his handicap. He has what his caregiver calls the "Taco eating pose." His bum leg sticks out straight while he eats. He also seems to do his own PT himself - he often stretches his bad leg for a few minutes (his caregiver swears she's seen him do bicycle kicks, too). Taco will have x-rays on his leg in 6 weeks. We'll compare that x-ray with the one we just had taken to see if there are any changes - for the better or for the worse. It's possible Taco, with time, strength, and age, can hold those bones in place. If they're still rotating like crazy, we will opt to have corrective surgery. We want to do what's best for Taco, what causes him the least amount of pain.

Taco's FHO surgery came with a hefty price tag. Taco's corrective surgery will be three times as expensive. (We must admit that we got a little sticker shock when we saw the estimate). This is where you can help. Donations made in the month of February will be matched thanks to some kind donors. That's double the love! Donate today >

Taco is a happy guy. In addition to his girlfriend Indu, Taco has taken another foster kitten named Superfudge under his wing. The two definitely have a big brother-little brother relationship. Taco loves to pin Superfudge down to bathe him. And then, once clean, the wrestling match begins. Taco is 8 pounds; Superfudge is 4 pounds. Who do you think wins? And rounding out this merry bunch is Superfudge's girlfriend Mary. Yeah, that's right. Fudgie has a girlfriend, too. She adores him. He helped her come out of her shell. The four are hoping that someone has a wonderfully big heart and would like to adopt them all together.

Taco has come a long way from the scared, quiet little guy who was a mangled mess. He's insanely sweet. He prefers to lick a hand that rubs his belly. And he's in heaven having not one, not two, but three best friends.

By the way, Superfudge has his own story. Read it here >


  1. Love it. If I could, I would take all 4! I was inspired to donate :)

  2. Thank you for all you do! It is amazing the turn around for Taco,and he got a whole new group of friends! your Foster's are great people


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