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November 25, 2016

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A Happy Thanksgiving for Annie!

I started this blog to tell Annie’s story and share her pictures. She is now an officially adopted member of our family and is a happy. active, healthy tripod kitty with no idea she is not a totally normal cat.  She just spent Thanksgiving, 2016 being played with and adored by 16 people plus her foster kitten buddy Karina and my daughter’s dog Moxie.  She runs, jumps, flips, climbs, puffs up her tail and  hops sideways like a Halloween kitty, and wiggles her butt before stalking and pouncing.

I am so thankful for the amazing care and support she was given all along by the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They started her story with their foster volunteer program that places hundreds of cats, kittens, puppies, and dogs out in comfortable foster homes when they would not do as well at the shelter.  They had no hesitation to try and save her when it was apparent that she had “Swimmer Syndrome” and could not walk on her back legs. Then when I had taken her to foster and she lost circulation in one back leg and had to have it amputated, their vet did a spectacular job, kept her home with her for her initial few days of recovery, and returned her to me obviously feeling little or no pain and healing beautifully. I then faced the challenge of helping her learn to walk on three legs when she never had before. I was worried that they might put her down if I failed but no one there even considered that an option and as it turned out, we were able to get her remaining back leg strong enough for her to walk and run on after about a month of daily physical therapy and “play therapy.”  Her only remaining issue is that the tendons in her paw are shortened and she can’t flex it forward completely normally so she walks on the top of her foot, which gets sore, but she is building up calluses and I hope to also help her use it more properly over time. Here she is on her adoption day, 11/16/16

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Annie looking large

November 25, 2016

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Annie now has a friend, a slightly older kitten who has a 4/6 heart murmur and needs some time in foster while they assess her health. She will be put up for adoption but her prospective family will need to know how serious her condition is. Meanwhile Anne loves having a playmate and the exercise is good for Karina also.

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Annie starts to walk!

November 25, 2016

After about two and a half weeks when it looked to me like she was improving slowly, she started to actually stand up on her leg and then walk on it more and more. One breakthrough moment was when she encountered my older cat Sissy and instinctively stood up facing sideways and puffed up her tail! Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, since they are now housemates) she quickly decided Sissy was not a threat but I think that helped her realize she could stand. Soon she was pulling her foot under her properly and walking and running on it most of the time. Now she is cleared to be out of the crate and to play as much as she wants, as long as she doesn’t make her foot sore!

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I don’t have any pictures of her “therapy” but I worked with her every day for 2-3 hours. I spent about 15 minutes 3 or 4 times a day with her in my lap wrapped in a towel so she didn’t wriggle away, doing passive motion exercises moving her leg the way it would if she were walking and stretching it for range of motion. I sang to her while we did this — Row, row, row your foot and other simple songs and sea chantys. The rest of the time I kept her next to me on the sofa or crawled with her on the floor and dangled toys and moved her so she was putting weight on her foot in the correct position. She was not supposed to scoot in her old swimmer style but she could move like that like greased lightning so she found it hard to resist. She did best when she was confined to the sofa where I could catch her and prevent scooting. She stayed in her crate the rest of the time, on vet’s orders. She also had a polarfleece sling I sewed for her so I could hang her over the table for “pretend walking”. That ended up being 99% fighting the sling but I think it did help her get the idea….

I also massaged her leg and foot where the paw curls tightly but later the vet showed me that pressing it on the floor while she is standing helps more to build the proprioception of when she is using it correctly.

Actually I do have this picture of her with a selection of some of her toys…

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