I was finally able to capture the elusive, injured Dita two days ago thanks to the venerable drop trap. Too smart to go into the narrow confines of a traditional trap, she saw the food in the back of the much larger drop trap and walked in. When I pulled the string and the brace gave away, catching her inside, she stared at me with eyes that spoke of both pain and betrayal.
She was quiet as a mouse all the way to Adobe in Los Altos, where we have (thank god) a donor-funded account. And then she submitted, terrified, to the pokes and probing of the compassionate medical staff there. They had to sedate her to take x-rays, and when Dr. Clare (wonderful) called me over to view the results, I could tell by her face that it was not good news.
Dita’s left hip was horribly fractured. The bone that was supposed to connect hip to leg was pointed away from her spine at a shocking angle. On a clock it would be pointing to 9 or 10 o’clock rather than 1 o’clock. The doctor had felt the top of the bone through Dita’s skin, though it had thankfully not perforated the skin. And her right ankle was also broken.
Looking at the x-rays and imagining the unchecked pain she’d suffered, I felt sick. But what an extraordinary critter, I thought, to not only survive this but drag herself back to the feeding place so she could be, if not rescued, at least fed.
How could this have happened? Dr. Clare thought either she was hit by a car or fell a distance to the ground. (Having seen her sunning herself in the highest levels of the farm’s barn, I would not be surprised if it were the latter.) The injury was likely a couple of weeks old, she said, noting that if I’d been able to bring her in immediately, she’d have recommended amputation of the left leg, now several inches shorter than the right. But now, Dita’s frame had settled and she was learning to ambulate with her injuries. One thing for sure: she would be crippled for the rest of her life. No more climbing up in the barn, no more quick escapes from predators.
My house is full to overflowing and I just promised to help socialize some feral-born kittens. My granddaughter needs me and work is harrowing. But I made the only decision I could: I would take her home and let her at least recover a while as much as she could, while I tried to socialize her. (She is already two years old; it will be an uphill battle.) And then I would consider her future.
After a day in the sunniest corner of my house (an western-exposed bathroom) Dita found the courage to let me know what she thought of my attempts at helping her. As I extended a long wooden spoon with tuna on the end, she lunged, planting a claw in the side of my hand, which sent spoon and tuna flying, and me running for the Neosporin. She is just terrified, I told myself, and then backed off on the socializing for a bit, so she could become less afraid and more willing to interact.
Here she was just minutes ago, having emerged from her carrier for the first time. Her eyes are still wary, but perhaps less so after a day.
You can see by the angle of her back legs that they are virtually useless. My heart breaks thinking she might be in pain.
St. Francis, I confess that I am overwhelmed and not sure what to do here. If Dita does not take to indoor living, and eventual adoption, what are my options? Return her to the farm where her injuries will dictate that she will have to live under bushes or in damp basements, where she will be easy pickings for coyotes? I don’t know – perhaps a sanctuary for disabled cats? Any ideas are welcome.
I am grateful to so often be in the right place at the right time to help these deserving beasties, but my heart could use a break.