Thursday, April 7, 2011

A post about Pushkin

Some of you already know that my cat, Pushkin, has been through a bit of a bad time recently. He has injured his back, and this has been a huge worry. At one point, we thought we might have to have him put down, but I'm hoping that won't prove to be the case. Apart from his fracture, he's a very healthy cat and the children and I find the thought of life without him very sad indeed.
Apparently, he has a couple of fused vertebrae in his back. Beneath this area is a bony deposit, and it is this deposit that has fractured. This in itself wouldn't be a problem, but a bit of the bone has broken off and is causing him discomfort.
Pushkin has been to see a specialist orthopaedic vet who says that this bone may be pressing on nerves and affecting his back legs. We're currently waiting to take him for an MRI scan which will show what impact this is having on the spinal column. It could be just a case of simply removing the bit of bone in an operation, but we don't know until he has the scan.
I thought I'd write about this because at various points, we almost gave up on Pushkin - but thanks to the internet, we didn't. If anyone else is unlucky enough to go through this sort of distressing experience, I hope this will be of help.
When Pushkin first injured himself, he went missing and we eventually found him cowering in the garden. He flinched away from us when we tried to pick him up and wouldn't even miaow. He then went missing again, which meant a delay of a few days before we could get him to the vet. During this time, we were convinced we would never see him again.
However, I remembered that Yolanda at Bliss had blogged about losing her cat Vita. I read her account of how they hunted for Vita for weeks and it gave me hope that I might find Pushkin.
I also found a blog called
Pet Detective which doesn't seem to be active any more, but which has some invaluable advice for cat owners.
First, when your cat is ill or injured, he doesn't "go off to die" as many people, including me, tend to think. It is his natural instinct to hide, and not to make a sound, so as not to attract the attention of predators when he is not in a fit state to fight them off.
Second, he really will hide - yes, even from you, his loving owner. It's not enough to leaflet neighbours - you have to get down on your hands and knees and crawl around their garden. Even when we got Pushkin safely back in the house, he still managed to tuck himself away in corners and crevices.
On one occasion, I left him shut in the study while I answered the door and when I came back he was gone. I thought I was going mad! In the end, we discovered he'd tucked himself into a cupboard full of DVDs. (And this with a bad back.)
This instinct is called "hiding in silence" and while it might be useful for avoiding predators, it is the worst thing a domestic cat can do. While he's hiding, he's not eating, or drinking, or receiving medical attention, which means that his condition will deteriorate much more quickly.
At the moment, Pushkin is doing quite well. He's eating loads and his back legs seem to be working, after a fashion, though they get a bit tangled up if he tries to turn round too fast. I'm praying that the vet will be able to sort him out. He's far too lovable to lose!