The runaway on three legs - Albuquerque Journal

The runaway on three legs

First in a series.

I was wearily motoring home, down unlit El Pueblo Road, when my Triumph’s headlights lit up a slow-moving, small white object. Grocery bag in the breeze? Ah, no. White kitten on three legs. The day wasn’t over yet.

Cats are predators for sure, but they are also a prey species. When sick or injured, the wild ones tend to hole up to avoid being coyote bait, making them impossible to catch. I made a U-turn and rolled to a stop on the gravel shoulder. As I approached the little guy he blinked slowly at me and then limped in my direction.

Martha and Amos, my two staff members, had left for the day. I threw the deadbolt, switched on the light, and carried my six-pound runaway to the treatment table. He actually looked good on exam – except for that right femur fracture. I’d need some help to get X-rays.

To be sure he was well-hydrated I administered warm fluids under his skin and then snuggled him in to our warm water circulating blanket. Between ravenous mouthfuls of canned food my patient purred peacefully. I took a liking to the kid; he was downright cooperative and sweet.

I wasn’t looking to expand my pet family; I already had Bob and Polly, my own dog and cat. (What kind of person gives human names to animals? Mine have all had namesakes, the Nichol family puppy, Mick Jagger, being no exception.) Besides, this was not my cat.

The next morning, Martha and Amos beat me to work and, well, they were just tickled about the new kitten. I hastily explained that he was not ours. Surely we would find his family. We anesthetized the little devil, found the location of his transverse fracture on X-rays, prepped the leg, and took him to surgery. Intramedullary pins, stacked in place, showed good alignment on post-op films. His eyes popped open 20 minutes later.

Later that afternoon, doing my best not to look like a Fuller Brush salesman, I knocked on doors.

Next week: A watch cat?

⋄ For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website,

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post pet questions on or mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.


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