Friday, April 2, 2010

A Story from May 17, 2008

A Story from Merciful Hearts Farm
Deb Potter, 17 May 2008

I was about to begin this story by saying that this isn't really a farm story. But if you consider the name of our farm, I guess it becomes a farm story.

Our youngest, Katy, dances weekly at a studio that is on the highway & not near a lot of homes. One Wednesday as I was about to speak for a class at Furman, she called to tell me that she had just arrived at dance & that there was a stray cat at the studio. It had apparently been hanging around & someone had taken a paper cup, torn down the sides, filled it with water & left it for the cat. She described the cat as almost grown & skinny with a mass on its side. I thought she said a mat so I was envisioning a cat with lots of tangled up fur, not a lump. She told me that the cat was friendly & asked if she could bring it home if it was still there two hours later when dance ended. I was trying to find my way around Furman's campus so I believe I simply answered, “We'll see....”. I remember briefly thinking that the cat had better wander off in the next hour or so.

As Katy tells it, when she came out of dance & opened her car door the cat practically jumped right in. I arrived home to find a skinny but sweet black & white tomcat who had a peculiar lump almost the size of my fist on his left hip. I have seen plenty of infected abscesses on cats before, especially the males that fight with each other, get snagged by a claw & then develop a pocket of infection under their skin. This lump was a huge mass & in a very odd place. The cat was not really scratched up or looking “infected”. I poked around at it & it did feel a little watery underneath but also was hard in the center. The fellow obviously needed a trip to the vet.

Katy ran him by the vet the next morning. We left him to be neutered & to get all his shots. She said she would take a look at the lump & see if she could drain it. He came home in two days looking quite peculiar. First of all, he had to wear a plastic collar around his neck so that he couldn't lick or chew where the vet had worked. His left side was shaved, his lump was still huge & he had a big rubbery drain tubing sticking out the top & bottom of the lump. The tube was held by a few little stitches. We were to clean the area around the tube a few times each day, massaging as we did to help the spot drain out & return to a normal size. The vet, however, had mentioned that she was not confident that this was simply an abscess so if it didn't heal she would open the cat up & see what was really going on.

The cat was friendly & very happy to be in our home. After some initial hissing at our other cats, he found his place, was eating well & even sleeping on our bed at night. He did not mind his funny collar but was relieved when I took it off every day as I cleaned his wound.

The lump did not disappear. It drained a bit but the size stayed the same. In a week Katy dropped him back at the vet's office. She went on to a class & then stopped back at the vet's to see what the problem might be. As she walked in, the vet asked Katy if she had a strong stomach. Katy answered that she did so the vet invited her to watch the cat's surgery. It seems they had just started to open the cat's side up so Katy was in time to see the procedure.

It turns out that the “lump” that we were trying to drain & massage away was actually the cat's left kidney. His kidneys are supposed to be inside the muscle wall but had popped out through the muscle & was simply floating under its skin. The kidney was still barely functioning but that did not matter a lot as the right kidney was just fine & apparently where it was supposed to be. The vet removed the kidney, stapled the poor cat up from his shoulder to his hip & told us he could go home in a day. He was to wear his collar for 3 weeks until his return appointment.

Now we don't know much about this cat so it is hard to say why or for how long his kidney had been outside him. He didn't have any other injuries but the vet speculated that he's been hit by a car or squeezed hard by a dog which could have forced out the kidney. It was just so odd that he had no other injuries. Of course, we also don't know how long he's been like this.

I began to feel sorry for the poor cat who was struggling so with his collar on. I would remove his collar & then babysit him to be sure he was not picking at his wound. He was staying so busy playing with the other cats & exploring his new home that he wasn't bothered by all those staples. He never touched a thing so I let him live without that funny collar. We named him Ben because we figured since we already had $500 invested in him he was staying.

Just this week Ben returned to the vet for his booster shots & to have his staples removed. He had gained about a pound & a half & had healed beautifully. We were given a jar of formalin with his kidney floating in it. His hair is growing back in odd little patches but he is a happy fellow. The only real problem that we've found is that when Ben wants to greet a person he does it by walking up & biting their hand. We could say it is a friendly bite but not everyone perceives it quite that way.

And now I'll update you on a few of the farm things.... The ducklings are really growing. They are out with the rest of the poultry now. All 30 of them prefer to do everything together. When they move they all walk together. In the afternoon they all lay down in a big clump to nap. And when they want to go into the pond they all line up & jump one after another into the water, dabble & swim & then climb up together to dry out on the bank.

Sally, Katy's triplet goat from last year, had her first kid. I was sitting at my desk Monday working when I heard a scrape against the door. That is not unusual as the triplets wander all over the farm. I heard another scrape followed by a loud wail & a thump. I opened the door, the goat rolled in & I realized she was in the process of delivering her kid. I scooted her out of the doorway enough to shut the door. Katy came out & we pulled the kid who was a little stuck getting born. It is a lovely little light brown doe.

We've finally named the newest baby. Her mother's name, Sally, is short for Salmonella & Sally's sisters are Annie (Anthrax) & Ruby (Rubella). This was Katy's idea. Together the triplets are SARs. We've decided to name Sally's baby Liz which is short for Botulism. It is hard to explain but Katy also named a stray cat Rabies. I'm just glad she has a sense of humor.

After Market on Saturday we have to vaccinate all the new lambs & kids. They are growing so fast! It is hard to believe that another springtime is almost over!

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