Last year my wife Connie and I noticed a large number of stray cats roaming the property.
This is not a good situation as we try very hard to provide a habitat for songbird breeding and someday I would like to help the Bobwhite population which is rapidly vanishing from Ohio.
We also have a population of house cats that we let outside for short periods of time ( not during times when birds are fledging ) that we do not want to contract diseases or get in fights.
At this time, thanks to a grant from Petsmart UCAN ( www.ucancincinnati.org ) was offering a fantastic price on spay and neutering feral cats.
Over a period of time we ended up capturing about six stray cats. Some of them were truly feral and others seemed to be abandoned house cats. The cats that had tested positive for FIV (feline version of AIDS) were euthanized. The rest were ‘fixed’ treated and released.
One of the cats we caught was apparently abandoned as a young cat. Unlike the feral cats he did not go Berserk when you approached the trap and unlike most of the stray cats he actually looked forward to seeing humans walk into the workshop even from the very beginning. He would ‘hop’ on his front paws with excitement when you approached not because he wanted food but because he wanted attention and companionship. I add the word companion ship because he is not a ‘clingy’ cat that always wants to be petted but he does like to have you in the room with him.
Since he was a young attractive cat with extraordinary social skills we decided to see if we could place him in a shelter to get adopted. There was a big problem though. He arrived with a large “scrape” on his arm. His right arm had a gash that removed all of his skin down to the thin clear covering of the muscle tissue from his wrist almost up to his elbow.
When we took him to the vet to be examined we got horrible news. Scrape was FIV Positive. The vet recommended that we have him put down. We scheduled an appointment with the vet to have him euthanized later in the week.
When we got home I dressed his wound with a bandage and found that despite the incredible pain he was in, he tolerated this unbelievably well. When the pain of applying the bandage or removing it got to be too much he would cry into his food dish or yowl but he would NEVER bite us and often did not even pull his arm away.
I am genuinely turned off or agitated when most people Anthropomorphize pet behaviors but I still found myself wondering if he somehow was aware that we were trying to help him. My cats have a complete conniption when I just try to trim their nails. All of the cats that were in pain that I have worked with in the past had to be tranquilized to be handled.
Scrape not only handled the pain amazingly well when we changed his dressings but also greeted us every time by ‘bouncing’ when we entered the room and after greetings would lie next to us with one paw on us apparently as some form of reassurance or affection. Unlike other injured cats I have seen, he did not cry, whine or complain about his pain but simply rested or slept most of the time.
This cat was too well mannered and socialized to let him be put down without at least some effort to see if there were options available. So while Scrape was at the vet on ‘death row’, I started contacting all of the shelters I knew of as well as posting on social media such as facebook that I had an FIV+ cat that needed a home. I let the vet know that I was looking for a home but still intended to keep the euthanasia appointment assuming I would likely not find a home.
We could not keep Scrape in our house as it would not be fair to our FIV free cats and he could not live in our unheated workshop.
The next morning Scrape was scheduled to be put down and no one had offered to take him. At the end of the day I got a call from STAF (Save The Animals Foundation). They told me that they could place Scrape in a special FIV+ shelter but it would be a few weeks before they would have room to take him. I called my wife and she graciously agreed to let me use the spare bedroom for a couple of weeks to house and treat Scrape. While this was great news it was too late. It was past the closing time for the vet’s office. I left a voice mail asking them to cancel the euthanasia. In the morning break at work the next day I had a message that Scrape had been spared.
After over a week of treating Scrapes wound we found it was not healing. Our vet then performed an operation to bring close as much of the open wound as possible to make a smaller gap to heal. Because of the FIV condition the operation was a failure and Scrape lost even more tissue and was worse off after the operation then when he began (no fault of the vet, who did a wonderful job at a discount).
We worked closely with the vet for weeks and then months trying a number of procedures and medicines trying to get Scrapes arm to heal. I cannot accurately describe in this article the work we went through during this time changing dressings, cleaning and soaking the wound several times a day.
I knew the shelter could not be asked to take Scrape in this condition so I emailed letting them know we were doing our best but the healing was going to take longer than expected. We did make some small progress with a few millimeters of healing but then would loose that progress again. The vet told us that Scrape had a ‘non healing wound’ and that it may never heal.
Our vet was a godsend and took an interest in the Scrape “project”. He would give us medicines to try that he had gotten as samples and had recently expired. We would never had been able to afford to buy and try all of these medications. I had already sold my vintage Vespa scooter to help pay down the credit card bill Scrapes treatment had run up.
One of the medications the vet gave us an expired sample of was a silver oxide power. Within a few days the wound started showing the first really aggressive signs of healing. We used the powder for two weeks during which time the wound closed over a centimeter on the top and the bottom.
When the silver power ran out the healing stopped and after we returned from a vacation and Scrape came back from the kennel we found the condition had regressed and the wound was back where we started from.
We figured based on the performance of the silver powder that it would take about 4-6 bottles to cure Scrape. We asked the vet what the price of the silver power was and he told us that even giving us a discount it would be about $800 each bottle.
There was no way I could afford this. I continued to research and try treatments on Scrapes leg. After several more weeks no progress was made and my wife had given up hope and the vet was suggesting trying amputation.
Worse than being the last one holding out hope for Scrape he was now experiencing more and more discomfort from the treatments. His amazing stoic patience and attitude was wearing thin. He was now starting to acknowledge some of the pain and would go under the couch when I came in to treat him instead of my usual warm greeting.
Connie got an idea and suggested we try some powdered medications and bought all of the powder treatments she could find locally. Unfortunately, none of them worked.
Inspired by this idea I did some searching on the internet and found two products I thought were worth trying. One powder had 21 ALL 5-Star (out of 5) reviews. The reviews called it a “Miracle Powder” and people had seen it as kids but it seemed to have disappeared from store shelves. It is called BFI Antiseptic First-Aid Powder, cost = $7.00. I strongly suggest you look it up on Amazon.com and read the reviews. The second powder I bought was Polysporin powder, cost = $13.00.
Within days of using a 5:1 ratio of BFI:Polysporin Scrape was showing noticeable results. After over six months of little improvement his leg wound had COMPLETELY closed in less than three weeks.
Scrape is now much more active and his personally is shining. Connie has decided to let Scrape live in the spare bedroom and I will soon be notifying the shelter that they can give Scrapes spot away (if they have not already done so).
Connie wants to changes Scrape’s name since he no longer has his wound so from now on our new cat (the artist formally known as Scrape) goes by Jack.
Scrape's Leg showing Mild granulation after weeks of treatment.
Scrape's leg after the failed operation
Scrape's leg showing healing from the 'Silver Powder".
Scrape's Leg almost healed after using BFI for just over a week.