The Great Cast-Off

It had been three weeks since a hot pink splint was put on Tuna’s broken leg. She needed to wear the cast for a month and had to be confined to a crate in order for her to heal properly. We followed the doctor’s orders—for the most part. Unfortunately, this wasn’t Tuna’s plan.

The dope.

I noticed that she was starting to pull at strings at the top of the cast by her hip. Because I didn’t want her to swallow them (that was the end of our cat Skitterbug), I trimmed the threads off.

Little did I know, Tuna was devising a plan to rid herself of her peg leg. She was growing tired of dragging the heavy thing around—planning her escape like a prisoner digging a hole in a concrete wall with the blunt end of a spoon.

So one day, when we had let her out of her cage for a little time in the house, we suddenly noticed she was running around without her pink cast. Where did the thing go? She was whining and crying and slipping on the wood floor with her three legs, the fourth held up out of habit.

How exactly does a cat get a leg cast off? Sure, cats are pretty agile, but that had to hurt—it would be like a human trying to slip out of a cast that goes hip to toe without having opposable thumbs to pull it off.

Somehow, Tuna managed it. We could see that her poor leg was atrophied and looked like it had been mangled in a cat fight. It was spindly thin, red and sore, and was missing a lot of hair. We took her into the vet immediately.

After gently checking out her leg and studying the new X-ray, Dr. Tucker reassured us that Tuna would be fine. Because her cast came off a week early, she would have to be confined to the dog crate for another two weeks (seriously, this time), just to make sure she wouldn’t reinjure it.

He also suggested we do some kitty PT with her when we watch TV. I could see it clearly: “Stretch, Tuna, stretch….now bend that knee, count one and two…back to the stretch and one-and-a two….” Maybe we could watch an exercise channel on Direct TV and work out as a family.

We learned an interesting fact from Dr. Tucker—as agile as cats are, they do have a breaking point. When he was a vet in New York, he used to frequently treat cats that fell out of high-rise apartment windows. He said a cat would be sitting on a sill, and someone would slam a door or drop something and poof! Out the cat went, out the window. He said a cat could generally survive a fall of about nine stories—but once it was ten or more, for some reason, that was the magic number—the cat usually wouldn’t survive.

Fortunately, Tuna survived her first and hopefully last broken bone. Dr. Tucker promised us that she would be back to her old self in no time. She already seems happier—she has been resting her head on her bum leg when she sleeps. I just hope she won’t spend her remaining idle hours in the crate brainstorming ways to exercise her soon-to-be-found freedom. We may have to ban her from her favorite trick of winding through the balusters in the loft railing and taking those flying leaps to the stairs.

On the other hand, Dr. Tucker said this leg will be even stronger than before due to all this new bone growth. In the end, perhaps Tuna traded in her peg leg for a bionic one. Maybe she is not such a dope after all.

P.S. I promise this will be my last blog about animals for a while. I am not that into my pets. I just think a cat with a broken leg is funny. And a cat who takes a cast off her broken leg is even funnier. Fortunately for you, I won’t be writing anytime soon about the parakeet I once had that was named Tiddlewinks. There’s just not much one can say about a parakeet.