Warning: some of the images in this post may be considered graphic
Short of one limb but full of a zest for life: that’s how Teddy would be described by anyone who’s met him.
This feisty feline used to roam around a Tampines neighbourhood before a degloving wound on his front right paw left half of it bloody and exposed.
A rescuer noticed that most of the skin on Teddy’s front right paw had been torn off and brought him to Love Kuching Project in April 2018.
One step forward, two steps back
When we received Teddy, our first worry was that his wound may be infected, but after an assessment by the vet, we were told that the wound remained miraculously clear of any pathogens. He was put on painkillers and had his wound bandaged.
At first, the sweet boy seemed to understand that we were helping him get better and he would lie still as we replaced his wound dressing daily (or perhaps the painkiller patch was just extremely effective).
Pills, on the other hand, he strongly detested. Each time we tried to feed him medicine, he would produce an epic stream of drool in protest. We learnt that this was Teddy’s way of coping with fear, as he had the same reaction whenever he felt spooked by other cats at the cattery.
As Teddy’s wound healed and he adjusted to his new environment, the nerves began to reattach, and cleaning his wound became a daily challenge, with poor Teddy constantly resisting due to the discomfort.
We had to bring him to our vet frequently, and sprayed bitter pet-safe solution on his bandage to stop him from trying to get rid of it.
Despite the treatments, Teddy’s wound did not improve as the weeks went by. In a bid to help the wound close and save the paw, our vet recommended performing a skin graft for Teddy in August 2018. Teddy had a flap of skin taken from his rump and grafted over the open wound.
Even this didn’t help. A month after the skin graft, the wound still refused to heal over, partly because Teddy was positive for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which causes wounds to heal more slowly than usual, and partly because the wound had been left open for so long.
Rather than see Teddy in constant pain and stress over his daily wound management, and to avoid infection, which could be life-threatening in immunocompromised cats, the decision was made to amputate the limb.
Teddy’s journey to discovery
And that’s how Teddy came to be our dear tripod cat.
Our boy woke up the day after the amputation with a voracious appetite, and received VIP treatment from our volunteers, who held his food bowl up to his face as he lapped away at the delicacies.
His fighting spirit never waned, and he even managed to remove his soft e-collar by himself a few times, and we had to use a hard collar on him instead so he wouldn’t get at his stitches.
As if to accompany this diva-like attitude, Teddy developed a strong preference for songs by Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. The theme song to Titanic was a hot favourite of his (maybe the lyrics ‘my heart will go on’ accurately summed up Teddy’s strong will to live).
We put Mariah Carey and Celine Dion on repeat at our cattery during our shifts, hoping that it would boost morale, soothe his pain and accelerate his recovery. (You can play the song above, and think about how an epic love ballad soothes the heart of our dear little cat!)
Then drama struck when on a Sunday night in September, our volunteers noticed that Teddy’s wound had somehow reopened, and the poor cat wasn’t feeling great. So while one volunteer held Teddy and tried to keep him calm, another made calls to vets in the vicinity to see if any were still open to help with this emergency.
Thankfully we found a vet that was willing to see to Teddy’s condition, and we got him all cleaned up and feeling better again.
No leg, no problem
By the time November 2018 rolled around, Teddy was up and about, taking on mighty scratching poles and putting holes in catnip pillows! It was great to see that he was healthy, strong and not letting the loss of one limb bother him in the slightest.
We kept him with us for observation a while longer just to be sure that he was coping well, and in January this year, decided that he was fully recovered and ready for life outside the cattery. As we were unsure that Teddy could fully thrive as a community cat if he returned to Tampines, we put him up for adoption. With a fancy collar on and proudly showing off his ‘battle scar’, Teddy posed for his adoption photo, and it went up on our Instagram page and website:
But some of our volunteers had also grown close to Teddy through months of care for his wound and his subsequent rehabilitation — Zenn, a volunteer for our Sunday team, brought his parents over to see our special three-legged warrior.
Per our adoption policy — we assessed Zenn’s home to see if he would be able to provide a safe and nurturing environment for Teddy, and once we were satisfied, released Teddy into Zenn’s care.
It’s always bittersweet to see one of our long-staying residents get discharged or adopted; on one hand, we are overjoyed that Teddy has a loving home and a healthy, happy indoor life after a serious injury, but on the other hand, having walked the journey with Teddy, we will miss his furry face and sweet meow.
Our work and our mission — to love the cats in our lives and neighbourhoods — means that at times, we are lucky enough to bear witness to the progress and rehabilitation of cats that may otherwisebe deemed as lost causes.
Success stories like Teddy’s and Poe’s are a reminder that every cat deserves our love, be they tripod cats or feral cats.