I just wanted to say first that I am so glad to have found this site and to know that there are so many caring pet owners out there. I worked in a vet clinic several years ago, and unfortunately, I know all too well how many people give up on their pets when they are injured or ill, due to the cost or inconvenience of caring for them.
My cat, Nikko is 13 years old and developed a tumor near her spine which was removed in August and found to be bone Cancer. The vet won't be sure for while whether all of the cancer cells were removed. The tumor developed slowly over the years and started to press against her spine, cutting off the nerves/blood supply (not sure which) to her hind legs. Over a period of two years and since the surgery she has lost about 75% of her hind leg functioning. She is not paralysed. She can move her legs and when I prop her up on all four legs she can stand for as long as a minute. I have hard wood floor and because it is slippery she just drags her back legs and walks with her (now very powerful) front legs. Because of this she doesn't even try to walk normally so the muscles in her hind legs don't get any exercise. It's amazing how fast she moves using those front legs. She can get around the apartment quite well.
I used to do exersizes with her right after the surgery. I did bicycle movements imitating the normal range of motion of her back legs. Although, now that she has gained a little more feeling in her hind legs she HATES the exersizes and won't let me do more than 10 seconds before she hisses and tries to scratch me. I don't feel that it is painful for her. She has never liked me touching her back end.
Of course due to her weakness in the back end she can't control when she urinates or goes poo. She has long given up on the litter box. I have found human diapers that fit her and I cut a hole for her tail. She hates the diaper and tries to pull it off regularily, often when I am asleep or at work so I come home to pee and poo all over my livingroom. Also, the poo will often get into the hole in the diaper and get onto the floor. I express her bladder about 3 times a day (when I change her diaper). I actually just hold her over the tiolet now.
That is the background information about Nikko. Other than her hind leg issues she is a perfectly happy and healthy cat considering all she has been through and is going through. She has a great attitide, appetite, drinks normally and her pee and poo look normal.
Here are my problems and questions:
Firstly, I would like to get her to exersize more. The longer she goes on not using her legs the weaker they will get. I feel guilty that I haven't been doing more physio on her, but the only way to do it is to hold her down while she hisses and tries to scratch me. I feel like I am torturing her. I have bought a rug so she has traction and is forced to push a little with her hind legs to walk but then her diaper will fall off when she moves along the rug! Any suggestions as to how to overcome this problem?
Secondly, she gets reoccuring bladder infections every three months or so. I believe the reason is a combination or things. She holds her urine and doesn't empty it on her own regularily. Also, I have tried to regulate her pooing so she doesn't sit in her poo in her diaper, but sometimes she will go poo overnight or when I am at work. Perhaps E. coli is getting into her bladder. I try to give her baths for her back end when she poos in her diaper, but you can imagine how much she HATES getting a bath!! I have scratches all over my arms from this. Is there anything else I can do to prevent these bladder infections?
Thirdly, I have to keep her in my bathroom at night incase her diaper falls off or she poos in the hole in the diaper. She HATES being alone in the bathroom all night and meows and scratches on the door sporadically throughout the night, waking me up. When she was young she used to sleep in my bed so she is used to being with me. How can I make things easier for her (and me).
I would appreciate any advice you can give me. I would do anything for my cat. My friends think I am crazy doing what I have done for her. Like I mentioned, I believe she is relatively happy. I am hoping the answers to my questions help not only Nikko, but myself as well. I feel my situation is harder on myself than on Nikko!