Crumble came to me in July 2013 at about 12 weeks old, with a broken foreleg. The vet had examined the leg and felt that as the break was quite smooth and flat, it was a good candidate to heal without further intervention – as long as we could keep it rested for 4 to 6 weeks. The alternative was to re-break the limb and pin it, but that seemed an awful lot of intervention for a kitten so small, given the nature of the break. Keep a 3-month old kitten still for 4 weeks?! How?!
We decided to try keeping her in a crate to restrict her movement – there was just room for a folded up fleece to sleep on, food and water bowls and a very small litter tray. Now I should tell you, Crumble is a little cat with a BIG personality. She’s bright, adventurous, lively and very loving. My main concern was how to keep her stimulated and stop her from going “stir crazy”.
I placed Crumble’s crate on the worktop in the cat pen so she could see what was going on in the garden… and while the weather was hot I opened the window so she could hear the birds and feel the breeze. I hung little mobiles from the roof of her cage with different textures for her to bat around – feathers, loofah, a bell. And whenever I was working in the kitchen I brought her in with me in a carrier and talked to her whilst I was baking. Several times I carried her round the garden in my arms.
I still marvel at how good she was about it all. She never made any fuss or clamoured to get out. I guess her age was in her favour when it came to speed of healing. After about 3 weeks the leg was doing very well, but she had started to develop a rotation of her foot, turning it outwards to prevent the tendon from pulling on the break. After discussion with the vet I decided to risk letting her out for 10 minutes at a time for some supervised play and to allow her to put a bit of weight on the turned out foot – a bit of self-physio for it. By the time she was ready to go to a new home the rotation was very much reduced.
Later her new owners took the opportunity of her being under anaesthetic for her spay operation to have an X-ray done. The X-ray showed a clean break of her humerus which had healed perfectly.
The down side to devoting a lot of 1 to 1 time with such a bright little cookie is that it is hard not to fall in love! I always want to see my fosters go to the best possible home for their individual personalities, of course, but I was really anxious that Crumble should go to someone I knew would be PERFECT for her. And I couldn’t have asked for a better family to give her a new home, as you’ll see from the photos below. And it turns out Crumble is an American football fan!
Some ideas for keeping an immobile cat amused
I asked a colleague of mine who is a pet behaviourist for some ideas as to how to get Crumble through her enforced rest. This is her list of suggestions:
- Can the position of the cage be changed every now and then to give her a different view/aspect to keep things varied and interesting for her (whilst ensuring the locations aren’t too novel, threatening or potentially frustrating for her in any way)?
- Can a radio or TV nearby be popped on for company, stimulation?
- A daily grooming session if she’s happy to accept it?
- Would she be able to use any of food toys or puzzle feeders (might be tricky though if it’s one of her front legs that’s broken)?
- Frozen fishy ice pops?
- Treats and tasty tit bits (e.g. one of the squishy treat sticks to pop through the bars of the cage).
- Would you be able to take her out of the cage periodically and walk round the house holding her or even out in to the garden if you have one?
- Feeding smaller but more frequent meals if possible to break the day up?
- She might enjoy watching you play with toys outside the cage (e.g. rolling ping pong balls) but would depend on her I think as might find this a bit frustrating if she can’t get involved in the play herself.
- Could a Feliway diffuser help too?
Thanks so much for contacting us. We didn’t have your email and are so glad to be able to let you know how she is getting on. She has really settled amazingly well and has eaten several times already and found and used her litter tray. We can’t believe how quickly she has adjusted to us and our house – a real tribute to the love and care you have obviously given her, I’m sure you are missing her. She is currently sleeping on J***’s tummy, having spent the day exploring and playing with A***, lots of running around and playing with new toys. A*** really wants to choose a name for her, having looked at her face “Smudge” seems to be favourite at the moment. I promise we will keep in touch and let you know how she is getting on. Thanks again for the start you have given her and please be assured of the love and attention we will give her.