In October of 2013, I came home from an all-day aromatherapy class to find Scooby limping. I took him to the vet the next morning and, after some x-rays, the diagnosis was in: Scooby had somehow shattered the pinky toe on his left back foot. The vet told me the two best options were surgery or putting a splint on him. I chose the splint because I thought it would be less traumatic for him. Looking back, I think surgery might have actually been easier on the poor old boy!
Since it was just his toe that was broken, I wasn’t expecting him to come out of the vet’s office looking like this:
Not only did he have the Cone of Shame on his head, the splint went all the way up to his hip! He was not a happy kitty.
I was told to keep him “quiet,” as in confined to a small space and as still as possible. Ha! Have you ever tried to keep a cat “quiet?” After caring for several female cats after having them spayed, I should have known that it wasn’t going to be as easy as it sounded.
I brought Scooby home and put him in the bathroom. I checked on him a few minutes later and he had ripped off the cone and it was hanging from his chin. I put it back on. He started yowling and digging at the door. I checked on him and the cone was, once again, dangling from his neck. I was afraid he would strangle himself so I took off the cone and brought him out to the living room, figuring I would just have to keep an eye on him so he wouldn’t rip the splint off.
He stayed pretty quiet the second day, due to being stoned on his liver-flavored pain medication. He spent nine hours staring at something under the couch. I checked and there was nothing there. After seven hours, I started to feel kind of freaked out. I checked again. There was still nothing.
The third day, he somehow removed his splint while I wasn’t looking. I rushed him in to the vet to have it put back on. The vet tech lectured me about keeping the cone on his head. I told her that he could get it off no matter how tight I tied it. She said, “you just have to tie it really tight, like this.” She cinched the ribbon around his neck. I waited in the waiting room while the splint was reapplied. The vet tech proudly carried Scooby out in his carrier. I looked inside. Scooby had already ripped the cone off!
I spent the next six weeks at home, watching Scooby and running him back to the vet to have the splint put back on every few days. He didn’t rip it off with his teeth, he just stuck his leg out straight behind him and shook it so hard the splint eventually fell off.
One morning after having the splint put back on AGAIN, he didn’t wake up when I picked him up. He was completely limp. For a few terrifying seconds, I thought he was dead. He finally came around and seemed fine but I worried. I worried that the vet had given him too much medication and I worried that this ordeal was too traumatic for him.
Also, there was no keeping him locked up and no keeping him still. He would suddenly get up and run through the house, with his splint clunking on the floor and then every third time, slipping behind him. I knew when he was on the move because I could hear CLUNK CLUNK WHOOSH, CLUNK CLUNK WHOOSH on our wood floors as he moved through the house. I finally bought some baby socks and put one over his splint to keep it from clunking too hard.
He continued to be angry:
His splint wasn’t supposed to get wet so, of course, he chose the rainiest, darkest, wettest October morning to bolt out the door when one of the kids went out.
After about a month, things calmed down and Scooby seemed to be accepting his new reality. Then I started to worry for another reason: I was afraid the splint was damaging his leg because of the way he drug it behind him.
His toe was finally declared healed, the splint was taken off and Scooby’s scrawny, withered leg finally grew fur and became useful and strong again. But he’s a changed kitty. Where he was aloof and even cold before, he is now sweet, funny and affectionate. It seemed like it took all the pampering and special treatment he received during his convalescence to convince him that Don and I really love him. He went from being a cat that skirted around us, to putting himself in the center of attention. After his injury, he seemed to feel that he was on the same level as our dog and way, way above the other cats. I haven’t discouraged him from thinking that way. I absolutely adore that cat and I always have. It just took six weeks of intense pampering to convince him. It kinda makes me wish he’d broken his toe ten years earlier!