The friends I’m visiting in Cambridge have two daughters, and we visited one of them yesterday. This daughter, a nurse, has a special love for animals. So does her husband, and they have two cats and a dog.
This is the story of how one of the cats, Jack, accidentally fell from his third-floor apartment, sustained serious injuries, and is laid up for a long time with broken bones. But Jack will eventually be all right thanks to the expert help he got at the U.S.’s best veterinary hospital, Angell Animal Medical Center.
Jack is eleven years old, and is a sweet kitty. I met him in his better days, before last weekend’s accident. Here he is with his sister Bella (jack is the tuxedo cat). (The d*g, not shown, is named Bronson.)
Jack’s most notable peculiarity is his fondness for Venus Williams. His male staff is a tennis maven, but Jack ignores the television matches—except when Venus Williams is playing. When that happens, he’s glued to the set and watches the ball go back and forth. He will not watch any match in which Venus isn’t playing. Go figure.
Jack is an indoor cat, but is allowed on the porch, on the third floor of a Jamaica Plain triple-decker. Last Sunday he went missing, and a neighbor informed the male of Jack’s staff that there was a cat lying on the cement parking space below the porch. Jack was immediately found and scooped up; he’d clearly fallen from the porch, though we don’t and won’t know how that happened.
He was immediately driven to Angell Medical Center, which fortunately was very close. They were taking only emergency cases, and accepted Jack immediately. They quickly determined that one front paw was broken very badly, and at first the ER vet doct thought the paw would have to be amputated. But Angell, having enormously competent vets, decided they could save the paw.
It was only later that a CAT scan (!) determined that jack had also shattered both joints that joined his lower mandible to his skull, so that had to be taken care of as well.
Of course I wanted to visit Jack, and I did and photographed the poor moggie. Here’s how I first saw him: confined to a bathroom so the other animals wouldn’t disturb him:
Poor Jack! He can move and even walk a bit to his litter box on his injured paw, but most of the time, senses dulled by painkillers, he lies on his blanket. His paw is all bandaged and pinned, and the three buttons around his mouth are to keep it stitched shut until his shattered mandible heals (he can open his mouth 1 cm to eat). He’s also wearing the Cone of Shame:
Below: Jack’s poor wounded paw. He had a fracture of the second and third metacarpal bones, a fourth and fifth left carpometacarpal joint luxation, as well as the mandibular fractures, a collapsed lung, and contusions on the lung (those have largely healed). He’ll be laid up for six weeks, minimum, but in the end he should be all right, although perhaps without the mobility he used to have.
Note the many pins holding his wrist bones together; there’s a cushion on the end so the bits that stick out won’t injure him.
Here’s a photo of the first page of Jack’s medical report, discharge certificate, and instructions for care, which in total runs 3.5 pages. These people are thorough! Fortunately, Jack had medical pet insurance, as this kind of treatment isn’t cheap.
Jack is well loved, and can be picked up gently:
His wounded face is even brushed with a human eye makeup brush:
Here’s the porch from which Jack fell, landing on the cement parking area below. Perhaps he was interested in a squirrel or bird, and fell off in his enthusiasm, or perhaps he was walking on the railing and lost his balance.
It’s well known that cats falling from heights show an unusual phenomenon: they are more likely to be injured when falling from lower stories, as they don’t get a chance to right themselves and land on their feet, as well as increasing air resistance. This turns out to be a statistical artifact, see Greg’s comment below.
Jack will eventually heal, but send him your good wishes for a speedy recovery.