Z is a special little man in my life and has the most amazing story to tell. I call him my Wonder Kitty because of all the obstacles he faced and overcome in the first few month’s of his life. But let’s start at the beginning. In the Spring of 2015 I decided that I was ready to to start looking for a kitten. My Cheli cat was so lonely after her mate Sami passed on a couple years prior. I was hoping that a kitten would help Cheli and I was ready too. I’ve had several Siamese over the years and was hoping I would find one at a shelter. For several weeks I checked the listings with the local shelters to see what kittens were available, it seemed like there were no Siamese kittens to be found. But then on May 15th I came across a posting for a male 8 week old Seal Point Siamese that had just been brought in for adoption. I said to Joe “I have to be there when they open”. I had a feeling that he was the one. We arrived just as they opened and was escorted back to the kennels where they housed the cats and kittens. As soon as I saw this little guy my heart just melted. He was so tiny and sweet and innocent. I picked him up and he hissed at me in his tiny little voice. He was a bit scared but once I put him up to my shoulder and cuddled him he started to purr. We asked about adopting him and was told we would have to wait 3 days because he was brought in as a stray kitty. He would need to be checked out and given time for someone to claim him. It will always be a mystery of how he ended up alone and separated from his mother. And I will always wonder how long he was stranded before he was found and brought to the shelter. I try not to think about it because I fell in love with this little guy and promised to give him a good life. On May 19, 2015 I brought my Little Man Z home.
Josh came over to meet the little fellow and before I knew it he was teaching him bad habits. Oh well, it’s only the first day. I’ll teach him to stay off the table later. . . Josh you are a bad influence!
We wanted our new kitten to have a special name that would reflect his personality. We eventually named him “Z” in honor of Henrik Zetterberg, the Captain of the Detroit Red Wings. Our “Little Man Z” as we call him seems to fit the personality of the Captain with his perseverance and determination. Little did we know he would need all of that in the next few weeks.
Z is a jumper! He would run across the couch and then jump way out across the floor. Most of the time he would jump to the area rug but one time he jumped all the way out to the hardwood. He landed with a thud and I saw him wince. He held his left leg and hobbled over like he was hurt. I held him for awhile and he seemed to be okay but he always hobbled around with a limp as if he couldn’t put any weight on it.
Week 2 : Little did I know it but this picture shows the first signs of something wrong. The right side of Z’s cheek started swelling up and before long it would become even larger. We took Z to our Veterinarian, Dr. Barnes to have him checked out. Z weighed in at 1.6 pounds and had a slight temperature. He checked his cheek for bite wounds but could find none. Dr. Barnes did a needle aspiration to determine if there was infection present and found that there was. The most likely scenario was that Z had been bitten, presumably by another cat but it was strange that we could find no puncture marks indicating a bite. Usually when an infection is caused by a bite the abscess will drain through the puncture site even if the wound has already healed. Since Z didn’t appear to have any puncture marks for the abscess to drain, Dr. Barnes made a small incision under his chin to drain the infection and flush it out. He checked his leg as well but he didn’t appear to have any broken bones and thought it would mend in time. He gave him a shot of antibiotics and we took him home.
We had made plans month’s in advance for a Florida vacation the first week of May. Since Z hadn’t had time to adjust to his new home, Josh had planned to take care of him while we were away, however I had a gut feeling that we needed to leave Z at the Animal Hospital where they could keep an eye on him. I was certainly glad we did when I got a call from Dr. Barnes that Z’s cheek had swollen once again and needed to be drained. Also his left leg at the elbow had started swelling up too. Keep in mind this is one week after the initial swelling in his cheek. They took an X-ray to check for a fracture which turned out to be negative. Again, the only thing we had to go on was his leap to the hard flooring where he landed strangely. Once more they checked for puncture wounds but found none. It was hard to make a definitive diagnosis as to why his elbow had swollen up like a big rock. After going back through the limited history they decided it must be the same infection that was in his cheek. His elbow was lanced and flushed and he was back on antibiotics.
I have to say our vacation just wasn’t the same after hearing about our Little Man Z. I was never so glad to get home and pick him up. He had the saddest eyes. We made him up a special bed and he curled up and went to sleep.
His little cheek had healed up and the swelling went away. However, his elbow was still a big goose egg.
A few days later it was time to properly introduce Cheli cat to our Little Man Z. Since our elder cat Sami passed away, Cheli has been on her own for almost 2 years and it was a hard transition for her to accept a new kitten. However, Z thought she was the most awesome cat around. He followed her everywhere and pestered her for affection. She would have none of it and when he got too close she would hiss and growl like she meant business.
Throughout the next few weeks, Z’s wounded elbow went through stages of swelling . . . fever . . . abscess. Once his fever broke he was back to normal playing like any kitten. But usually within 3 – 4 days it would start all over again.
Week 4: Dr. Barnes suggested we bring Z in to see a surgeon who was going to be at the clinic. In case they needed to use anesthesia he was not supposed to eat or drink anything prior to bringing him in. The appointment was for the afternoon and Z was starving, he kept begging for food and showed me in his own “Z “like personality that he was hungry! First he sat by the box of canned food and looked at me with his expressive eyes.
I dropped Z off at the clinic and late that afternoon I got a call from Dr. Barnes. I knew something was wrong when I heard his voice. They had taken another X-ray and found that the infection was in the bone at the elbow joint. We went up to the clinic to discuss our options. The X-ray showed just how aggressive the infection was. Just a few weeks ago the X-ray was normal and now it looked like his bone was shrinking. To me it looked like it was dissolving. We had 2 options, either amputate the leg which would take the infection as well or we could go on a course of antibiotics which would require a series of injections over the next 3 weeks . If we could get on top of the infection, maybe Z would have some mobility of his leg. At that time he was still trying to hobble on it. They didn’t think his life was in danger if we waited so we decided to try the antibiotic route and take another X-ray at the end of the trial.
Every day with the exception of Sundays, I would pack Z in his traveling kennel and drive over to the clinic. There they would take his temperature and give him his injection. The infection was so aggressive and we just couldn’t seem to get it under control. Dr. Barnes even sent a sample of his infection out to a lab to see if we could get any information. All indications showed that we were using the right antibiotics but for whatever reason we just couldn’t get ahead of the infection. About every 4 days he would go through swelling, fever and abscess. He was so miserable during those days and sometimes he would get agitated and make moaning sounds that broke my heart. On a few occasions we gave him an NSAID which helped with the fever so he could relax. Once the abscess would drain, his fever would break and he would have about 3 – 4 good days before it would start over again.
I would watch him clean his face and noticed that when he washed with his right paw he held it up to his face. But when he used his left paw he bent his head down to lick his paw because he couldn’t lift his leg high enough. If you look at the pics closely you can see this.
And then there were days when he felt like this. When he had a raging fever, I would put a cooling pad underneath him to reduce his fever while packing a heated rice pack on his elbow to try and draw out the infection. He didn’t like this in the least but if I held him he took it better.
Toward the end of the trial he started swelling on the inside of his elbow as well. It appeared we weren’t going to beat this infection. My emotions were all over the place and I can tell you I cried many tears over this little cat. No matter how much pain and suffering he went through he always showed us he wanted to live. He would cuddle up with us and we could feel the heat radiating from his body. I felt so sad for him but then he would start to purr as if to tell me it would be alright.
We had tried the antibiotics but the swelling never went down in his elbow and Z never had more than a few days before his temperature would spike back up. We decided before we went for the next X-ray that we would have his leg amputated. Dr. Barnes assured us that disabled animals led healthy happy lives and that Z would adjust quickly. Z was practically dragging that bum leg around so he had essentially already learned to hop on 3 legs as it was. This picture was taken the night before his surgery. He stretched out on his back with the left paw dangling at his side.
At 3 1/2 month’s old Z had been through more than most little kittens his age. On July 9th, 2015 we took Z in to have surgery. It was a tense day waiting to hear that he was okay. Dustin called us that afternoon and said that everything went as planned and Z was awake but groggy. He stayed overnight and we were able to take him home the next day. He was a little woozy when we brought him home.
Z wasn’t supposed to jump or run over the next few days but that bad influence Josh came over and started eating bread pudding right in front of Z. Josh set the bowl down for just a second and Z ran and was into that bowl faster than you can say “NOOOO”. At that moment, I knew Z would be okay.
Over the next few days Z was on pain killers which made him feel pretty good. He slept a lot but he also wanted to play and had a good appetite. The one area he had trouble with was mastering the litter box. It was hard at first to balance and dig with one paw but he quickly figured it out.
I don’t have any pictures to show you but Z couldn’t wash his face the way he normally did before. He would stand on his back legs and use his right paw to clean the right side of his face. One day he came to me and started washing his face and when he was done with the right side he licked the back of my hand. I somehow knew that he wanted me to wash the left side. So I rubbed my hand across his face and he kept doing it. For several month’s he would come to me and lick my hand to wash his face. It was the sweetest thing! Now he has learned to lick the back of his paw to wash the left side of his face but every so often he will sit with me and start licking the back of my hand. I know he still remembers and it brings back memories for me too.
6 days after his surgery, Z started to act strangely. The area around his stitches was a bit pinker than usual and he had an episode where he started meowing in a high pitched voice and backing up in circles like he was in pain. It lasted only for a few seconds before he settled down. Later he would lie in his bed but never closed his eyes. I called and talked to Kim at Dr. Barnes office and she arranged for me to pick up some more pain meds. Although phantom pain is not common in animals it was a possibility.
The next day he had another episode. He was even more agitated and it lasted a lot longer. I could tell he was in pain and within minutes I could see that he was swollen along the stitch line where he had his surgery. By the time I called the clinic he had abscessed and he had these huge holes where it drained. I took him in immediately to find he was feverish and needed to go back on antibiotics. This time he weighed enough to take the pill formula but we had to cut them in half and give them to him twice a day for 2 weeks. We all thought the infection was centralized in his leg and once it was gone the infection would be too. However the infection must have been in his system and lay dormant. Along with the antibiotics we tried hydrotherapy by placing Z in our sink 2 – 3 times a day and using the spray hose to gently clean out his wounds and wash out the infection. Dr. Barnes always assured us we would get through this, it would just take time but there were days when I broke down and had a pity party for myself. I was so attached to this little guy and I couldn’t imagine it if we were to lose him now.
In time Z started to heal. It would be mid August before we felt like his body was responding to the antibiotics and we could breathe again. His wounds began to close up and with the exception of one spot. He started acting like his old self, his temp was back to normal and he was beginning to play like a kitten again. Dr. Barnes was finally ready to start Z on his kitten shots that he had missed due to that nasty infection. That one little spot would not heal on it’s own so Dr. Barnes went in and removed some of the tissue underneath and stitched him up. It looked like we could finally put this all behind us.
And de feet!
On November 21, 2015 we adopted a little buddy for Z. We named him Magic for my favorite Red Wings player Pavel Datsyuk who is known as “The Magic Man”. I call him Pavel or Little P, sometimes Stinky P because he’s a little farty cat, Squeaker because he squeaks when he talks, or Sweetie P because he can be so darn sweet. Everyone else just calls him Magic.
Before these two could become buddies they had to check each other out and stand their ground. If you look real hard you can see that Magic has a little white tip at the end of his tail which is so cute.
Z once again washing his face.
Ok, I’m done playing, I’ll lick your face now.
Z has this habit of coming to me every afternoon and asking if he can take a nap in my chair. He puts his paw on me and tells me in his little meow that he wants me to move. I usually give up my chair and get another one. But in no time Magic jumps up in the chair with him.
This time Magic went under. Cheli spied a little black tail peeking out!
Z will stand at the window propped up with his right leg folded underneath for the longest time. Standing like that for long periods of time has made him a muscular cat. Josh calls him Beefcake because his legs are so strong and his front leg looks like a Popeye arm. He’s solid as a rock and heavy as one too!
Here’s Z playing with his tail.
Here’s a look back at some captured moments throughout the year with some of the funnier sides of Z. I call this pic “Monkey See Monkey Do” because Z would follow Cheli around and mimic whatever she was doing.
I hope you’ve enjoyed Z’s story. I can hardly believe it’s been a whole year since I brought this beautiful guy home. He’s had quite a journey and been through some rough times but these days he’s healthy and happy and really that’s all we could ask for.
To the staff of Bradford Pet Hospital, Thank You from the bottom of my heart for all the love and care you gave Z. Each and every one of you have a special place in my heart for going above and beyond to make sure Z had every chance at life. You never gave up and always had a hopeful outcome, even when I couldn’t see it.