I threw his leg in the garbage, I had to keep the rest of him. . .

Today I gave blood for the first time in my life. Since I was finally pushed to make the appointment because Tristan gave blood to one of my patients a couple of weeks ago, I thought today would be a good day to tell his story!

I worked at a vet clinic in Ottawa while I was home during the summer between second and third year of my Bachelor’s degree.  We had this one ridiculous week where one day was FUBAR’d by an orthopaedic surgery we tried to do for the Humane Society on a beagle. Then the next day we had a feral cat the Humane Society brought in to be spayed that went bat shit crazy and latched on, all four canines sunk deep in, to the surgical assistant’s elbow. The next day she could barely move her arm, and the Humane Society called with a kitten that needed a leg amputation. The vet said “no way, we can’t do another thing for them this week…” Then they lay on the guilt: “You guys take him and amputate, or we put him down.” So we gave in…

In comes this iddy biddy TINY ball of pale orange fuzz… with a gigantic balloon of swellage replacing one front leg.  He was 9 weeks old, had been bit by a dog, and the leg was literally the size of the rest of his body, and cold. Had to come off.  This is a surgery best done with an assistant… but the usual girl was out due to previously mentioned injury. I had been working there on and off since high school and was basically next in seniority… so I got to scrub in for the first time ever!

Limb amputation will be a topic for another post for another time… but the point here is I held the injured leg until it was detached from the body, and then deposited it in the garbage. And I knew in that moment: I have to keep the rest of this cat!

He was painfully cute after surgery. You can’t even understand. He lived at the clinic for a while, because I didn’t think my mum wanted me to bring another cat into her apartment… but she visited him at the clinic a couple of times and fell in love, so he came home to her place for a while. I was supposed to go back into residence at Guelph, but I just adopted this kitten – I wasn’t about to leave him in Ottawa! So I found a place to live off campus.

He loves him some catnip pouch!

I named him Tristan, because it’s like tri-stand.. or tri-star… basically, it’s an attempt at a subtle call out to his three-legged status. He’s a SPONGE for affection, but he’s a bit of a spaz cadet so he doesn’t sit well for cuddles 9 times out of 10. If he does sit still, he drools like there’s no tomorrow. He sometimes lays his considerable weight over my wrists while I’m trying to type, and he’s been known to head butt with vigour, and shove his muzzle into my eye socket.  He’s probably the most obnoxious cat I’ve ever had, but I love him.

Tristan is the reason I can’t leave glasses of water anywhere. When his tongue doesn’t reach, he pulls the glass over with his head. And if he doesn’t do that, he leaves fur behind. I should get a bedside waterbottle I guess..

People don’t tend to notice he’s missing a leg – he gets around pretty well and isn’t really slowed down by it. I’ve had a friend play with a string and Tristan for half an hour before proclaiming “Holy shit, he only has one arm!” – Somehow he never noticed Tristan only slapped the string with one paw?? He can also do some seriously impressive acrobatics when chasing a toy dangled by a stick…

I’ll just unplug this, k? No big deal? Play with me instead?

He’s 7 years old now, and in great health. A few weeks ago I had a patient with bone marrow cancer who was severely anaemic and the owner wanted to try a blood transfusion.  Tristan had perfect blood work, so we used him as the donor. My patient sadly did not do well and passed away within a week of the transfusion… but Tristan was a prostar as a donor, and was best kind afterwards. Of course, he didn’t really volunteer himself… what kind of owner would I be if I would volunteer my cat for something I wouldn’t do myself? No longer the case, I’m now a blood donor as well!

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About dottiemaggie

A veterinarian living and working in St John's, Newfoundland. I love my job, and I love my home. Professionally I am passionate about critical care and client education. Away from work I am passionate about enjoying life, spending time with friends, enjoying hobbies of all sorts, and exploring this wonderful province I call home.
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8 Responses to I threw his leg in the garbage, I had to keep the rest of him. . .

  1. Susan says:

    You gave the gift of life today and got some cookies, good girl!

    • dottiemaggie says:

      thank you 🙂 I’m looking forward to doing it again! But I’m getting a tattoo next month, so it’ll be awhile before I give again… gonna mark that 6 month mark on my calendar, though!

  2. JaniceP says:

    That’s one of the best stories of ‘how I got my pet’ that I’ve ever heard. He’s a beaut, too.

  3. frigginloon says:

    I have a cockatiel with one leg (the other is a stump). I call her Ilene (I lean). I was at a pet supply shop and she was in a cage with another cockatiel. I had no intention of buying a bird, I was just admiring her coloring. The owner came over and said I could have her free if I bought the other one, which was her best friend. At this stage I hadn’t noticed the club foot or the lack of feathers on her underbelly. Silly me said “How come?” to which he replied “no foot”. Now I have wheelchair access birdcage with a handicap bay :).

  4. linlah says:

    Loon you’re a riot. But Maggie I’m glad you gave blood and that Tristan set the example.

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