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Cats, Cars and Cold: The Fanny Mae Story

A Cold Weather Story

Posted November 11, 2014 in A Vet's Life

Cat under a car

Most people have heard of rodents getting caught in car engines, but did you know that cats occasionally get stuck under hoods too? This happens because stray cats hide under cars in order to stay warm on cold nights.

[Editor’s Note: While you never know where a stray cat may be hiding, you can keep your own cat safe from car dangers by keeping him inside. Click here for more reasons why your cat should be an indoor cat.]

Sometimes cats will climb inside the engine to seek shelter. Unfortunately, this is not a safe place for cats. When unsuspecting car owners turn on their ignition, the moving belts can injure, maim or kill the cat. That brings me to the story of Fanny Mae.

Sleeping inside of a parked car
Fanny Mae had been sleeping inside of a parked car when the car’s owner started the engine early one morning to head into work. After turning on the ignition, she heard some loud noises and clanks under her hood and thankfully turned off the car. She lifted the hood to figure out what was going on and noticed a bloodied paw. She immediately called the Department of Animal Services for help. An officer arrived and after some effort, was able to get Fanny Mae out. Unfortunately, Fanny Mae had several lacerations on her legs and abdomen and wasn’t using her right front leg at all. The officer raced Fanny Mae to the shelter’s veterinary hospital.

That's when I met Fanny Mae. I’ll never forget the fact that despite her severe injuries and obvious pain, she continued to purr and rub her face against my hand. After Fanny Mae was medically stable, we sedated her. I closed all of her wounds and we took full body radiographs (x-rays). Her radiographs showed no fractures or internal injuries, but unfortunately confirmed my suspicion of a brachial plexus injury. Brachial plexus injuries occur when the nerves in the armpit region (called brachial plexus nerves) are stretched or damaged. Unfortunately, brachial plexus injuries do not heal or recover and since the affected limb becomes limp and useless, it has to be amputated to avoid future complications. For the next two weeks, Fanny Mae hung out in our medical center recovering from her wounds. She continued to win the affection of everyone she met. Despite wound cleanings and medications, she remained sweet and grateful.

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Ruth has more than 15 years of experience in the veterinary industry as a companion animal veterinarian in private practice. Along with being a writer and media personality, she is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.

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The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the beliefs, policies or positions of all veterinarians, Pet Health Network, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. or its affiliates and partner companies.