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Nini Love

Oct 27

Day 4

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I had to go in to work today and leave Nini for the first time since her surgery. Fortunately my partner is working from home so he’ll be able to keep an eye on her.

I set up her x-pen so that she’ll be able to lay in the sun once it comes out, and put a sheet over it so that she can’t jump out. Yes, she has tried to jump up on the bed and once it looked like she was going to try to jump out of the x-pen, so extra measures need to be taken to keep her safe.

Although I hated leaving her, maybe fate was on my side today. While I was away, she finally pooped. A small, compacted, post-anesthesia poop. But still. Yay! This is kind of the last big milestone in her early recovery. She’s eating, drinking, peeing and now pooping.

Unfortunately for my partner, Michael, it didn’t stop there. A couple minutes after her first trip to the litter box, she hurries back and has some diarrhea, which goes all down her leg and tail and even a little on her back.

Now, I’m a wildlife biologist, and I’ve dealt with my fair share of gross things coming out of animals. While I wouldn’t have relished dealing with this, it wouldn’t have phased me. My partner on the other hand has a much more sensitive sense of small and gag reflex than me. But bless him, he did a great job cleaning her up.

When I came home I cleaned her up a little bit as well. I was worried about poo getting onto her incision site so I took a cotton pad with alcohol and dabbed the incision site. Later when talking with the doctor, I was told to *not* do this, as it dries out the wound. She said since I just did it once, it was fine, and that at this point there’s good enough closure on the wound that a little poo on the surface is ok. The doc also said that a damp washcloth and warm water was the best way to clean her up.

Nini’s first time sunbathing outside after surgery

After all the litter box drama, I thought I’d treat her to some supervised outside time. I covered a lounge chair in a clean towel and carried her out to it. But she kept on wanting to jump down. Probably to roll around in the sun on the warm ground, which she loves to do. But we won’t be doing that until she has her stitches out! So back inside we go.

Overall, I am so encouraged by Nini’s progress so far. I thought she would be in a far worse state at this point. I was expecting a drugged-up, confused cat that had little resemblance to my precious girl. But Nini is acting more like herself everyday, even such a short time after surgery. I’m feeling really optimistic about her recovery.

Oct 25

Day 3

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Nini seemed just a little bit depressed today. We had such a good day yesterday, but it feels like we had 2 steps forward and now maybe 1/2 a step back. She wouldn’t eat her medicine and treats this morning, and I couldn’t get her to eat them until midday. But she was eating and drinking normally, so that’s good.

I thought for a minute about setting up a towel on the lounge chair outside and having some supervised outside time with her. But I don’t think I’m up for that. I’m in a little bit of recovery mode myself. I haven’t slept for more than a few hours at a time since Nini’s accident, and I feel a head cold coming on. Maybe outside time tomorrow.

After some discussion with my partner we decided that it would be better for Nini to sleep on the bed with me instead of by herself in the x-pen. He very sweetly offered to sleep in his kid’s bunk bed while they are at their Moms house so Nini and I can have the bed to ourselves.

Safe and snuggly in her fort

I made a fort so she can be under the covers and blocked off one side of the bed, so that if she gets up she has to walk over me and will wake me up and I can stop her if she decides she wants to jump off the bed.

This worked out pretty well. She woke up 3 or 4 times to drink water. And every time I wasn’t sure if she needed to use the litter box, so I put her off the bed just to be sure. I got about 1.5 hours of sleep punctuated by 20 minutes of helping her. So not a great night sleep for me but I think Nini was much happier being on the bed.

Oct 25

Days 1 and 2

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Day 1

The first thing I did when I woke up after Nini’s first night home was to get her up on the bed. She spends every night sleeping on me and I thought it would be really therapeutic for both of us if we had some snuggle time. I tried putting her on my lap, but she wasn’t interested and just kind of rolled off. She also loves to get under the covers so I made a fort for her, and that helped. She seemed content but still like she can’t quite get comfortable.

I can see her trying to move her missing leg as she shifts her weight around, trying to get comfortable. Her stump moves around under her skin where she was shaved. It was hard to see this and it did make me sad. She’s trying to do what’s she was used to pre-surgery and doesn’t quite fully realize what’s happened to her. It’s a little heartbreaking to watch, but I’m determined to stay strong for her.

After some time under the covers, I move her into the sun. Nini is 100% solar powered and gets a little depressed even after a couple days of no sun, so I knew it was imperative to get her soaking up those rays. I sat a few feet away from her because I didn’t want her to feel overcrowded. However, my partner comes downstairs to check on us and isn’t worried about this at all. He lays right down in the sun with her and talks to her quietly. This gives me the opportunity to do some tidying up around the room. And when I come back, Nini is totally relaxed, resting her head down, eyes closed and looks very blissed out. It was the first time I’ve seen her rest her head down since we brought her home, and I’m very happy to see her finally fully relaxed.

Once  the sun moves out of our room, we go back to the bed, and spend the rest of the night watching Netflix and cuddling. Nini seemed very relaxed and content the whole time.

She was not interested in eating or drinking the first day. I’m not so worried about her not eating, as she was always a picky eater. But I am more concerned about her not drinking. But I will try to be patient and not freak out too much!

Day 2

I slept in the bed last night and left Nini in her enclosure on her heating pad. I hope she’ll do ok without me on the floor next to her. My partner was the first one up this morning and the first to check on Nini. He got two yawns from her! We call them ‘love yawns’ because it’s her way of saying hello and I love you at the same time. And she was purring when he pet her. Yay! These are the first signs that our sweet girl is coming back to us. It’s a small but encouraging milestone.

She was also ate a little bit for the first time, and woofed down her medicine with treats. She even sat up to eat the treats. And she had her first drink of water. I was worried yesterday but already she’s showing so many signs of improvement!

We alternated between being on the floor in the sun and up on the bed. At one point when she was on the bed, I was straightening the covers and took my eye off her for a second, and she jumped off the bed (!) and landed perfectly on all 3 legs. Of course, I was a little freaked out that she jumped off, but happy to see that she was able to balance on just 3 legs.

It’s also a good reminder to really keep my eye on her. She’s very athletic and I don’t think she fully understands that she now has some limits. She’s back in her familiar environment and wants to get back to her old routine. It seems like there’s a little disconnect between where her mind is and where her body is. I’m going to have to keep an eye on her until her body can catch up to her mind!

Oct 24

The first night home

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Nini’s surgery went well and I brought her home the day after her surgery. I was so overjoyed to see her, I burst into tears in the parking lot as I carried her towards the car. She was alert but seemed really tired and spent the 45 minute car ride resting.

I set up an enclosure for her in our bedroom using an X-pen. I spent the day getting her space set up – washing blankets, vacuuming and buying non-clumping litter.

When I first brought her home, I put her carrier in the enclosure and helped her out and onto her heating pad. I immediately took off the plastic cone the vet had put on her and spent the evening sitting with her. She was alert but a little drugged and seemed unable to get comfortable. It seemed like she wanted to rest her head down, but would not set it down. I put a folded towel under her head, which helped a little but she still seemed uncomfortable.

She didn’t really get up and walk around, but she did scoot around trying to get comfortable.

I slept in the enclosure with her which was not very comfortable but I figured I wasn’t going to sleep very well that night anyway. I put her cone collar back on her before I laid down, which she tolerated fine. A couple hours after lights out, I hear and feel her moving around and she is almost on my lap. At first I thought she was trying to snuggle and get comfort, but then I realized she was trying to get out of the enclosure. Nini hates being confined so I thought she just needed to get out. I helped her out and she bee lines it for the bathroom, where her little box is. Even though I had set up a litter box in the enclosure using an old cookie sheet, her habit of going into the bathroom to use her litter box was just too strong.

She was pretty drugged up, and every step she took she fell down either face first or on her side. It was hard to see her like this, but I was also so encouraged that at least she was trying to move so soon after surgery. I quickly grabbed the cookie sheet litter box and moved it into the bathroom. She flopped down on it and immediately starting peeing.

I brought her back to the enclosure and the rest of the night was uneventful, although I could hear and feel her moving around a lot, like she was still not able to get comfortable.



Oct 23

The beginning

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Two days ago I brought my beautiful senior (15 year old) cat Nini home from rear leg amputation surgery. I came downstairs one night to find her sitting on the ground, unable to walk. I had left her sitting on the bed completely normal only a couple hours earlier. I brought her to an emergency clinic, and was told she had a spiral fracture in her femur. 

She spent the night in the hospital and the next day we got the radiology results back. She had an anomaly on her femur about 1 cm in size that the fracture had originated from. The doctor said this was indicative of a bone tumor, which weakened the bone and caused the leg to break.

Unfortunately it would be a week or two before we could get results of a biopsy confirming that it was cancer. I was told the two options were to set the fracture or amputate the leg. In the meantime, they would do an abdominal ultrasound and chest X-ray to see if there were tumors elsewhere in her body.

     Nini in the garden a few years ago

I spent the next few hours alternating between crying my eyes out, researching what the best option would be, and quietly meditating, trying to cut through the sadness, fear and anxiety. I had to decide whether to set the fracture or amputate Nini’s leg. If we set the fracture and then find out in a week she has cancer, her leg will need to be amputated anyway, and she will have to go through another intense painful surgery. But if I decide to amputate her leg now, and she doesn’t have cancer then I amputated her leg unnecessarily. It was an extremely difficult decision to make without having all the information.

Nini and her sister relaxing on the bed a few months ago

Her ultrasound and x-ray showed no signs of tumors elsewhere in her body. After having a really good conversation with the doctor, my own research and my gut feeling, we decided to amputate the leg. Although we didn’t have complete information, I felt like most signs pointed to cancer. And I was really worried about Nini going through two surgeries in less than two weeks if she ends up having cancer. 

Nini is my best friend and soul mate. I have never had and probably will never have another connection with anybody, cat, human or otherwise like the one I have with Nini. I love her dearly and plan to do all I can to make sure she has a happy, healthy life.