The Importance of Following Instructions After Surgery
Sam, a beautiful, 6-year-old Bengal, sustained an injury to his ankle while wandering outdoors. Being attacked by an animal or getting caught in a trap were possible causes. He ended up with a badly infected and dislocated ankle.
That's how I met Sam. We explored his ankle, literally scooped out pus from the joint, and despite the odds, we repaired the dislocation successfully. A splint was placed on the leg to reinforce the repair. Initially, the splint was changed daily until we were convinced that the infection was under control.
The plan after surgery was simple: 8 weeks of strict confinement to a large crate, with weekly bandage changes. The owner sounded smart and seemed totally dedicated to her beloved cat’s recovery.
Little did I know what would actually happen over the following weeks.
Sam's owner felt so bad keeping him confined, that she let him walk around the house for two hours every day!
But Sam, amazingly, did well. The weekly bandage changes were uneventful. The owner's impression probably was that I was just a mean surgeon trying to unnecessarily lock up her poor cat in a crate for 8 weeks.
Because there were no immediate negative consequences, her decision to give him freedom soon felt right to her.
During week 5, on a beautiful, warm evening — birds chirping and all — Sam's owner thought it would be nice to put a comfortable pillow on the deck to let Sam enjoy the scenery while the family ate dinner next to him.
Needless to say, this was in complete disagreement with everything we had discussed several times, before and after surgery.
Once dinner was over, the family put the dishes away. When they came back, surprise, there was no Sam to be found!
All that was left on the deck was the comfortable pillow and the splint!
Sam’s “new” injury
The family went out to look for Sam, who was eventually found hiding under the deck.
After they caught him, they rushed him to the emergency clinic to have the splint replaced. The emergency veterinarian felt the leg, which didn't seem right.
X-rays soon revealed that the ankle was dislocated again!
So we were back