Boots: The Cat That Came to Be…and Broke His Hip

What would we name him? I was stuck on a human name like Frank or Gus. Matt suggested Boots. I said no. We named him Boots. I ended up loving the name. Everyone loves the name. First, for a kitten it’s fitting as in Puss in Boots. Second, he has four little white boots on his feet. Finally, he loves to play in and around Matt’s work boots (something I could live without). To be honest, he just learned his name but if we ever want him to come out from under the bed we just shake a treat bag. Those Temptation’s commercials were really onto something.

Boots is an adventurous, smart, playful, energetic kitten. When reading up on kittens, the internet suggests playing with them for 15-20 minutes and then they’ll tire out. You can play with Boots for an hour and he’s still giving it his all. His favourite toys are bottlecaps and tampons, no matter how much money we spend on actual cat toys.

He sits like a human and grooms our hands when he’s ready to go to sleep. He loves watching Riverdale with me and he loves watching his dad play Fortnite. He’s never killed a bug, only played with them. He plays fetch sometimes. He’s independent yet attention seeking.

He’s horrible at wiping his butt after going to the litter. He fights us when we go to clean his butt but purrs when we do it. I’ll clean his litter and about halfway through he steps over the scooper and starts using it.

When we let him sleep with us, he loves sleeping in the crook of neck half on my face. I can’t move, but he loves it and honestly, I’d do anything for him. Recently, we slept on an air mattress and he loved the sound of running across it so, again, sleep was not an option for us.

Just shy of two months ago, Boots broke his hip. We came home late one night from a friend’s house and when I was brushing my teeth and Matt was on the porch, something happened. We have theories, the main one being that he tried to jump on our kitchen counter and didn’t make it which resulted in him falling awkwardly and hitting his leg on the dishwasher or a knob. But, again, these are just theories and I don’t know, and we never will. That really sucks. He’s part of our family and we weren’t able to protect him.

When I came out of the bathroom, he was just lying on the floor and was meowing. Honestly, I didn’t think anything of it. I picked him up and took him to the bathroom with me and tried to set him down on the counter. That’s when I noticed something weird. He wouldn’t put his back legs down, so I couldn’t put him down. I freaked out and took him to the kitchen to show Matt. He was meowing and wouldn’t put weight on his left leg.

My heart started racing, my breath got short, my eyes were wide, and I freaked. Tears started falling down my face and I was sobbing. I called my parents. My dad had cats all of his life, I just needed to talk to him. Boots laid down on his own and my family suggested that I try to see if anything was stuck in his paw. That was a negative. Anytime we tried to touch his leg he would freak. We didn’t want him moving any more than he had to, so we stopped prodding. Something I wish we knew was to put him in his carrier, so he didn’t move around as much until we could take him to a vet in a few hours.

I stayed on the couch that night and I got no sleep. Boots couldn’t settle down because he was in pain. As soon as 9am hit, I called a vet. Not our vet though, it was a Sunday, so most were closed. We got an appointment pretty quickly and took him in. Our vet is super friendly, and animal orientated with a mock park in the waiting room and running water. The vet we took him to felt like a human walk-in clinic.

Cats like to hide when they’re in pain, but the vet eventually got a hold of him. He started moving his injured leg and Boots screamed. In reality, cat’s meow but his meows were like screams. He was hissing and trying to get away. I couldn’t help the tears. He was eventually sedated to take x-rays of the leg. The vet said it was probably just a sprain. Yeah, right.

Broken hip was the diagnoses and the tears started all over again. The vet gave us pain medication to give Boots and suggested crate rest. Surgery was the only option. I wanted a second opinion, I wanted our vet. But they didn’t have anything different to say…though they were nicer.

They gave us three options: surgery, amputation, to do nothing. The surgery was a femoral head removal. Essentially, his hip joint had broken away from his femur and the surgery would remove the hip joint and eventually Boots would form an artificial joint with muscles, ligament, and scar tissue. This was a successful surgery. Amputation was out of the question for us, he was four months old at the time, we had hope of the first surgery working. If we had chosen to do nothing, he would have gotten early arthritis, medication would have been expensive, his life expectancy would go down significantly.

We couldn’t afford surgery though. In our heads there was an unmentioned fourth option that I couldn’t even fathom, let alone say out loud or even type now. I called my parents, Matt called his, just to update them. My parents knew about my anxiety and were very aware of the fact that this event had elicited a severe panic attack from me. My dad offered to pay for the surgery. He loves me, he loves cats, and he wanted to help. I could never be more grateful.

The first twelve hours, I couldn’t stop crying. That week, I was sad and unresponsive. My priority was Boots. Matt and I took turns staying at home with him as he was in his carrier. He still needed to be let out to eat and go to the washroom. Boots hated it in there. The medicine only alleviated the pain, it didn’t really make him sleepy. After a few days, Matt’s parents were our saviours. They suggested building a crate because buying one was so expensive. Matt and his dad built one out of chicken wire, wood, screws, and staples. It was an eyesore in our living room, but it became a safe haven for Boots.

The day of his surgery, I was a mess. Then I got the call, it was successful. We picked him up later that night and he was walking around already. We got him home and he wore the cone of shame. I think he looked like a handmaid in The Handmaids Tale. Although, he was very cute.

He hated it though. He couldn’t get grasp the concept the perimeters of the cone, so he got it wet all the time and flung poop around. He tried to take it off always. One day, he lost a tooth and wasn’t eating a lot. We went to the pet store and got him wet food. There was a better cone there, a shorter one. It helped immensely.

He didn’t like taking his medicine but loved the taste of the antibiotics. They smelled like the banana one I used to have as a kid. In the last few days of taking his meds, he finally accepted them. A little too late but that’s fine.

Eventually, we took him to physio and every appointment he had, we worked on something new. Stretching/strength, walking, running, jumping. Our physio therapist was amazing and was so impressed with Boots’ progress each time we saw her. We were a bit hesitant at first with physio, but it was a great investment. One time, she tried to put him in an underwater treadmill but that was a mistake. He hissed, and I’ve never seen his claws so extended. I grabbed a towel and he cuddled me for a very long time.

With physio, there came some more limping, but it was all a part of the healing process. Eventually, we took the crate down, last week actually. To be honest, I don’t think you can tell that Boots was injured. He’s the same old cat, albeit with a little more precaution when it comes to jumping. He just turned six months old yesterday and he’s finally getting back to being himself and it couldn’t make us happier.

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