Owners Karen and James had been advised by the Wellington After Hours Vet Clinic that Monty would need to have the leg amputated, however Mike was determined to at least try saving it. Based on x-rays and examination we found no bones or structures in the leg had been damaged, this was good news. Since all the skin had been completely removed from the lower leg stitching the wound closed was not an option as there simply was not anything to stitch together, the wound was too vast, and so began the lengthy process of encouraging new skin to grow.
Monty stayed with us in the hospital for around four weeks at this point, we did twice weekly bandage changes under sedation to thoroughly clean the wound and flush out any nasties- not something Monty would have enjoyed awake.
Monty was an extraordinary patient the whole way through, unusually calm and cooperative, he just seemed to accept whatever came his way with grace and equanimity. Of course loads of cuddles for this affectionate wee cat and a reliable source of yummy dinners seemed to do much to ease his plight.
Monty soon transitioned to oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatories which meant, joy of joys, he could go home, only returning to us twice weekly for bandage changes. We saw Christmas, New Year and indeed Easter in with the Martin-Bond family, as Monty was the first priority for both families when it came to changing his bandage at regular intervals, even if it fell on a holiday.
Bandage changing became an art, Mr Monty decided he’d rather not lie on the table but much preferred to be held, usually by Antoinette or Anna while Karen gave him lots of pats to distract him while Mike changed his bandage.
It was very slow progress, and by the end of January the wound had reduced in size by 20%. At this point, keen to speed the process along, we consulted with local retired wound care specialist San Gerryts. With awards in recognition of her achievement in advancing wound care in Africa and decades of experience, San soon became our secret weapon.
Combining the best of Mikes veterinary knowledge with Sans experience working in humans. our combination was a winning one. San’s knowledge of bandaging materials and their differing effects at the different stages of wound healing proved just the ticket and we began to see some real progress.
By April the wound had closed sufficiently that we could see greater progress still would be made if we performed a skin graft. The surgery was successfully performed taking a piece of skin from Monty’s flank and stitching it over the remaining wound on his leg. The leg was then put in a splint and thoroughly bandaged and would remain so for two weeks.
So, while we waited, and hoped and waiting and desperately hoped some more, Anna encountered one of the more intensive nursing jobs she’s done with us doing a superb job of caring, observing and monitoring Monty.
Skin grafts can be notoriously tricky things, either they take, or they don’t and once the surgery is complete there is very little that can be done to affect the outcome. This period was one of the more stressful, it was tough to maintain positivity that the graft would be fine, often we all found our minds straying to thoughts of ‘what if’, what was Plan B if the graft didn’t take? Would we do another? and was that fair on Monty?
Finally the day came, and knowing that if 60% of the graft had taken we were winning, when the bandage came off we found we had indeed shot within that parameter. Despite San’s assurances the whole way through the two week wait that she believed the quality of the tissue was such that the graft would take well, it still felt as much like good luck as good management.
After another couple of weeks in the hospital Monty was once again free to go home, returning as usual for his bandage changes. Over the whole six month period Monty had 44 bandage changes!
The small wounds that had not taken with the graft gradually healed between April and June, and our challenge then became how are we going to uncover his leg not let him, and other four legged members of the household, lick it. This went surprisingly well, with a minimum of time for Monty in an Elizabethan collar..
It seemed very sudden that the day came for one more check and Monty’s leg did not need any more help from us, it had healed, and grown back thick black fur, a delight to see.
A celebration was well in order, most of all for Monty, one in a million, coolest little cat ever, here’s hoping he has many many long years of lying in the sun and roast chicken dinners ahead of him.