Penniless and Suffering from Two Broken Legs, It Looked Like It Was Curtains for Trace Until Geoffrey Weech Rode to Her Rescue on His White Horse
"We felt that if a cat can be that normal with three legs, I think that they can adapt to two legs."
-- Geoffrey Weech
In a profession that is better known for uncaring shekel chasers and gross incompetence, it always is refreshing to learn of veterinarians of the opposing stripe. Dr. Geoffrey Weech of the Monmouth Small Animal Hospital in Wyatt Earp's hometown of Monmouth, Illinois, is one such dedicated practitioner.
About seven weeks ago, an impecunious local resident brought in a fourteen-week-old black kitten named Trace whose rear legs had been badly mangled in a car's engine. It would have been easy for him to have turned his back on her just as several of his colleagues in Chattanooga had done earlier this year to another feline traffic fatality but instead he chose to treat her gratis. (See Cat Defender post of July 16, 2010 entitled "Tossed Out the Window of a Car Like an Empty Beer Can, Injured Chattanooga Kitten Is Left to Die after at Least Two Veterinarians Refused to Treat It.")
Even with veterinary intervention secured it was an uphill battle to save Trace's life. "Didn't have any blood flow to them; the bones were broken in the legs," Weech later told WHBF-TV of Rock Island in an undated article that appeared on the web sometime around November 11th. (See "Monmouth Vets Save a Helpless Kitten.")
Apparently the fractures were too severe in order to be repaired and this necessitated Weech having to cut off her rear legs. Nevertheless, he is deserving of praise for electing not to kill her. (See photo of her above.)
"We felt that if a cat can be that normal with three legs, I think they can adapt to two legs," he explained to WHBF-TV.
Although adjusting to life without her rear legs is going to be difficult, veterinary technician Bridgette O'Malley is not betting against Trace. "She's a fighter for sure because she could have just as easily died in that engine and she fought through everything," she told WHBF-TV in the article cited supra.
Since there is not anything wrong with her front legs it might be possible for veterinarians to fit her with some type of prosthetic device that would allow her to regain her mobility. It has been done before with cats that have suffered paralysis in their rear legs and, other than a lack of money, there is not any reason why it could not be done for Trace.
Of course, an ounce of prevention always is worth a pound of cure and some of these tragedies could be prevented if motorists could be prevailed upon to check underneath their hoods before turning over their motors, especially during the cold winter months. Because they do not have anywhere else to go, numerous homeless cats and kittens seek out the warmth provided by cooling engines and that often leads to danger and even tragedy. (See Cat Defender post of January 5, 2006 entitled "'Miracle' Cat Survives Seventy Mile Trip Down New Jersey Turnpike by Clinging to Drive Shaft of SUV.")
The next order of business as far as Weech is concerned is securing a good home for Trace. "It's going (to) have to be somebody that is dedicated to a special needs kitten but I think they're going to be surprised," he predicted. "I think she's really going to come around."
Anyone who is interested in welcoming this amazing little kitten, now five months old, into their home can reach the Monmouth Small Animal Hospital at (309) 734-5227.
In spite of the tremendous job that he has done with Trace, Weech nonetheless is guilty of grossly underestimating the ability of cats to adapt to losing legs. For example, in Theodore, Alabama, there is a tortoiseshell cat named Callie Mae who does not have any legs at all. (See photo of her on the right above.)
A little over two years ago she was chased up a tree by a group of dogs and subsequently electrocuted when she became entangled in electrical wires. It is not clear from the information available but presumably she broke all four appendages when she fell to the ground.
"She's a good kitty," Sandy Tomlin of the Theodore Veterinary Hospital, where Callie Mae lives, told WKRG-TV of Mobile on August 9th. (See YouTube video entitled "Legless Cat Ready to Start Another Life.") "She even caught a mouse one time."
Someone has to scratch, groom, and brush her and she is forced to use Wee-Wee Pads as opposed to a litter box but otherwise she is doing remarkably well. Moreover, her courage and determination to live has had a profound effect upon Tomlin and her colleagues at the veterinary clinic.
Her tragic plight also serves as a reminder of just how lethal dogs, trees, and electrical wires can be for cats. (See Cat Defender posts of March 24, 2010 and March 20, 2008 entitled, respectively, "Seven-Month-Old Bailey Is Fed to a Lurcher by a Group of Sadistic Teens in Search of Cheap Thrills in Northern Ireland" and "Bone-Lazy, Mendacious Firefighters Are Costing the Lives of Both Cats and Humans by Refusing to Do Their Duty.")
Anyone interesting in giving beautiful little Callie Mae a permanent home can contact the Theodore Veterinary Hospital at (251) 653-7831.
In addition to the Monmouth Small Animal Hospital and the Theodore Veterinary Hospital there is Deb Carroll of the Grenada Veterinary Clinic in Sherwood Park who on February 16, 2009 came to the Edmonton Humane Society on her day off and repaired for free the left rear leg of a three-month-old Siamese kitten named Duckie. (See Cat Defender post of March 30, 2009 entitled "Duckie Is Saved by a Compassionate Veterinarian after Family Practitioner Demands Either C$1,600 or Her Life.")
They are difficult to locate, especially in times of need, but caring veterinarians who place saving lives ahead of lining their pockets do exist. They are, however, a distinct minority within the profession.
Photos: WHBF-TV (Trace) and WKRG-TV (Callie Mae).