She seemed impossibly disabled when I first took her home over a decade ago, but this spunky stray cat showed a strong will to live. Here’s how I brought her back to health and have kept her going ever since.
My journey began 11 years ago, driven by my compassion for a stray cat that desperately needed my help. I don’t know what had happened to the left side of her body, but what I saw broke my heart. Her eye was pushed in, her jaw and teeth were crooked, her tongue hung out, and her whiskers were half gone. She had numerous cuts, scrapes and bare patches.
I took the stray cat home, where she accepted being cleaned up with a warm green teabag. I applied liquid bandage to a slice under her jaw, and mixed up a dab of honey with plain yogurt to help hydrate her. To keep her eye from getting infected, I cleaned it with distilled water.
Within an hour, she was able to drink water and eat some soft food. She showed a willingness to survive that was to have a big impact on her recovery. I knew she would live, but that she would be disabled for life. I called her Tina.
The next step was to get Tina, who was no longer just a stray cat, to a veterinarian. Dr. Robert Brown was 92 years old when he removed Tina’s left eye, which was pushing on her brain. The surgery made a magnificent improvement in her overall health. Later, Dr. Thomas Hufnagel became Tina’s veterinarian. He told me that nothing could have been done for her dislocated jaw, but thankfully it doesn’t seem to be a problem. She eats well and is a meticulous groomer.
Tina is now a senior. She has had disabilities all her life but I don’t think she knows it. However, looking after a disabled cat requires more care and vigilance than average. Here’s what I did (and in most cases continue to do) to help Tina maintain her well being.
Warm olive oil was rubbed on Tina’s skin to encourage her hair to grow back. Once her hair grew in, I wiped her down with 1/4 lemon juice to 3/4 water solution. Lemon is an astringent. (Note that lemon essential oil and the plant itself are toxic to cats). We used the followed herbal remedies for Tina. (Always work with a veterinarian before using herbs with cats).
• Coltsfoot: anti-inflammatory expectorant
• Comfrey: speeds healing
• Echinacea: antibacterial
• Red clover and turmeric: anti-tumor
Even on a soft diet, I need to fluff up her food so she can grab it. I offer her mashed raw or slightly cooked meat and vegetables, and yogurt instead of milk. It is important to provide cats with raw live foods that contain enzymes. Many processed foods lose their enzymes when heated above 118°F. A natural diet that is fresh and chemical-free is best for healing and strengthening the whole body, and is especially important for disabled cats.
I give Tina a little honey as it’s helpful for digestion and arthritis.
Because Tina’s tongue hangs out, she needs to drink more water than normal to keep it moistened.
I use play time to keep a check on Tina’s vision. I also keep her surroundings clean, soft, smooth and safe. I try to keep things the way she likes them. Blind or vision-impaired cats appreciate everything in its place.
Tina gets a regular bath. She enjoys a gentle massage with the shower head right up against her skin.
Tina taught me that cats get used to their disabilities quicker than we do, but caring for them takes devotion, unconditional love, a good veterinarian – and the willingness to go the extra mile.