Updated: Mar 30
The Adventures of Weisie & The RappCats!
RappCats have so many amazing stories! Our cats and kittens come to us lots of ways - some have been fostered, some are from owners who had to surrender them due to circumstances, some are strays brought in by caring
neighbors, and some are intentionally trapped because they clearly need help, but can't be caught. (Some are unintentionally trapped too - like a recent arrival who found herself stuck in a trap meant for a groundhog who needed relocating!)
It's not uncommon for new arrivals to have "issues". Many are really shy at first. Some have been traumatized and are understandably afraid of us. We're used to hissing and growling and don't take it personally! Newbies show up with medical issues too. Cats fending for themselves in the wild get ticks and fleas. They get scratched by other animals. Sometimes they have serious wounds. Many have dental problems and gum disease from poor nutrition. And we're used to upper respiratory infections from being out in the cold or rain and having weakened immune systems.
The good news is we provide vet visits for each and every cat. They're all spayed or neutered, given shots, and treated for any fleas or ticks. Wounds are cleaned, and they get antibiotics if necessary. Lots of cats desperately need teeth cleanings or removal of teeth that are causing pain and beyond repair. Vet bills are our #1 expense - we want RappCats to be as healthy as possible.
Sometimes we get a cat who has a more unusual psychological or medical issue. That was the case with "Butch T. Cougar". Today I'll tell you all about his journey. It's a tale of hope, persistence, and love.
Hope you enjoy!
You were a classic example of a cat with a very interesting story.You had all kinds of "abnormalities". I bet that's why you were abandoned. Your tail was broken, your stomach was all out of whack, and your legs were crooked (you walked funny). Maybe you were a breeder's "mistake". Boy, did they miss out on a great cat!
We got your tummy straightened out, but not your legs! You couldn't jump high, but you got around fine, were healthy, and you weren't in pain.
You made it up onto this table just fine, and you got caught in the act! But hey,
a cat's gotta explore what a cat's gotta explore, right? Great memories!
The Story of Butch
("Butch T. Cougar")
Once Upon A Time...
Butch was a stray who survived outdoors on his wits. Folks had seen him around for awhile, and one day they noticed he had been hurt and was walking with difficulty. He was limping and couldn't seem to put weight on one of his front paws. Instead, he bent his paw under and walked on the joint connecting his paw to his leg.
A good samaritan called us and we got him into the shelter. Sure enough, he needed medical attention.
Vet Visit #1
We definitely needed input on how to help Butch. Since he'd been putting his weight where it was never intended to be put, he had developed open sores on his leg. His way of compensating for his injury wasn't going to work long term. In addition to causing pain and possible infection, he'd develop muscle and joint issues if he kept limping and struggling.
The vet couldn't tell if Butch's problem resulted from an injury or nerve damage of some sort. His muscles in that leg had atrophied, so something had been wrong for a while. It wasn't clear that he could recover.
We were dismayed to hear the vet recommend amputation of his entire front leg! We realize "tripod" cats and dogs generally do just fine, but we wanted to see if Butch's problem could be solved less dramatically.
We scheduled a second opinion.
Keeping Butch Comfortable
While we waited for his 2nd vet appointment, our manager Candace came up with a brilliant way to make life easier for Butch. She found one of those blue mats you see in gymnastic classes or wresting matches. We had housed Butch in his own room, since we weren't sure he could fend for himself if another cat decided to pick on him.
Well, the mat fit the room perfectly! It provided a nice, soft surface for Butch to walk on. His sores began to heal, and he seemed content.
He just wanted out - where he could be with other cats and explore!
Butch Gets Massage
I wanted to see if Butch's nerves could still respond at all. I started holding Butch on my lap (like a baby) and gently massaged his paw and leg. He seemed to like it, but I couldn't tell if it was having any effect.
Then one day, as I was stroking his leg, I felt a tiny twitch! There was a muscle in there that was still responding! Butch felt it too, and looked up at me like "What was THAT?" I swear he seemed excited. I certainly was!
Every day after that I'd try to get his muscle to twitch again, hoping that activating it artificially with massage might prompt it to "wake up". I'd also hold Butch's leg straight while I held him and let him put just a little weight on it. Again, sweet Butch didn't mind. I think he loved the attention.
Within days, I could tell that Butch was actually trying to stand on that leg. He couldn't yet, but he had the idea.
Vet Visit #2
"How about we try a custom splint?" recommended the second vet. Yes, we were all for that. Unfortunately it took several weeks for the splint to arrive. I kept up massages and weight-bearing practice in the meantime.
And during this time, Butch became a RappCats favorite. He was always in a good mood, and LOVED to be held and carried around. Everyone adored him!
When the splint arrived, we spread the word among volunteers that Butch needed to put it on every day and practice walking with it. It would keep his leg straight and make him put weight on his paw.
Well, that was time-consuming, and our volunteers are always stretched thin with a overflowing plate of tasks. We did it when we could, but Butch really needed more consistent help. Plus, the splint wasn't perfect. Butch could still bend his leg even when he had it on, and lots of times he did.
But we knew we were going to find a way forward for Butch. And it wouldn't involve amputation. We had hope now, and we definitely had love!
Butch Meets Tara and Finds a Physical Therapist
Serendipity is a wonderful thing. Tara, a tripod (3-legged) dog paid Butch a visit around this time. Tara's mom, Mary Pat Corrigan has been a massage therapist for dogs, horses, cats, cows, llamas, rabbits and birds! (And people too:) She and Tara visited RappCats and introduced Butch to a wonderful Physical Therapist!
Tara was an inspiration. In addition to being a super cat-friendly dog, she's a champion! Being born with a short front leg and no foot hasn't stopped Tara. She not only gets around with no problems, she wins fetching and diving competitions! https://www.facebook.com/TARA-the-No-Limits-Tri-Paw
Butch was impressed and vowed to work hard to get his leg stronger!
He agreed to a physical therapy session too, which was generously donated to RappCats by Carol Wasmucky, BS, PT, owner of Pet Rehab.
Mary Pat, Butch, and I had a Zoom session with Carol, and she gave us lots of wonderful exercises we could do that would help Butch.
Butch Is Fostered
I kept working with Butch - massaging his leg and paw, having him practice bearing weight, and now also doing the reaching and moving exercises Carol recommended. Butch's leg was getting visibly larger - his nerves were not only still firing, his muscles were building back up!
By now, all of his leg sores had healed. Butch was transferred to a room with other cats - and he LOVED playing with them. Turns out he was a mischievous guy and could certainly hold his own. He loved to play rambunctiously, sometimes plowing into another cat and then giving us a look like, "What? I didn't do a thing!".
Butch had started putting weight on his leg all by himself. It took effort, and he got tired and reverted to walking on the front of his leg when it wore him out. But he was determined, and he was building muscle memory. Gradually the percentage of time he used his paw increased. He was walking, running, chasing toys, climbing the cat tree, and jumping!
Butch was such a friendly, outgoing cat. It was clear that Matt, one of our dedicated volunteers, was smitten! He'd always find extra time for Butch, and Butch adored the attention. One day Matt announced he wanted to foster Butch. That way, he'd be able to give him even more attention, plus extra help with his PT exercises!
A "Failed" Foster
...But A Wonderful Ending...
In the animal rescue world, a "failed foster" is when a foster parent loves an animal so much they can't bear to give them back!
And that's what happened to Matt & Butch! (We all knew it would happen:)
Butch is doing fantastic. He's walking on his leg half the time now. He climbs stairs (fast), walks and runs, and loves exploring his new home. He's healthy and happy.
Butch's journey was special, but so is the journey of every RappCat. Each of our cats has a story. We work hard to help each cat become as healthy, secure, and content as possible. And each RappCat does their part too.
While each story is unique, most involve overcoming trauma, being courageous, and learning to trust people again (or for the first time). Our cats are an inspiration.
We just bring the hope & love.
Well, Weisie, that was quite the journey for Butch, wasn't it?
Kind of like yours - a beautiful transformation
from struggles to health and happiness!
It just took hope, love and persistence.
And that really what RappCats is all about.
Meow for now! Kitty kisses!
RappCats relies entirely on private donations
from animal lovers like you.
We can't do what we do without your support.
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We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Donations in the form of checks and money orders are also accepted and can be sent to:
RappCats P.O. Box 307 Washington, VA 22747
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