Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

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Vietislav
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Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Vietislav » Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:55 am

Hi. My beautiful, thoughtful, gentle, polite, intelligent and much-loved tuxedo cat Mouse went out last Friday night and didn't reappear the next day. It was totally out of character, so I was deeply worried and went out searching, but couldn't find him. By the time I went to bed on Saturday night, I'd pretty much assumed one of our urban foxes must have had him. But at 6.30 on Sunday morning, the poor lad came crawling home through the darkness dragging a smashed leg. The vet said he must've been hit by a car because the tips of his claws were all snapped off, which is apparently what happens when a cat receives a hefty body-blow while standing on tarmac or concrete.

His spine and diaphragm are mercifully undamaged (touch wood), but the ulna of his right foreleg has been fractured into three pieces and when the vet tried to refer the case on to a vet hospital, he was told that pinning a cat's ulna back together wasn't feasible - the bone is simply too narrow and fragile - so surgery isn't an option. He'll just have to spend two or three months shut in a dog crate, having his bandages and strapping changed once a week at the local vet's.

I've read the 'Feisty Cat on Cage Rest' thread on this forum, but I'm really worried about what being shut in a crate will do to my cat psychologically. Mouse is a complete and utter outdoor cat who leads a very full cat-life including lots of hunting; he also thrives on being shown affection and is never happier than when fast asleep on his owner's lap. He's also super-intelligent and regularly makes my jaw drop in that regard; it's like having a Border Collie as a pet cat. So I'm deeply concerned about how I can keep him mentally stimulated during his three-month ordeal in a dog crate.

I bought him the largest crate I could find, a jumbo 2-door model that's 4'0" long, 2'5" wide and 2'10" high, and I've put it in the middle of the living room so he won't feel left out when I'm at home. But of course he has absolutely no way of keeping himself occupied, he can't see out of any windows and I can't get into the crate with him to cuddle and stroke him - which only leaves him with sleeping, and even a cat can't be expected to do that for 24 hours a day. Having him wailing at me piteously, on and on, is desperately upsetting: he knows he has a bad leg, but he doesn't understand why he's being kept in prison and he looks at me as if I've completely betrayed him. After only three days, I'm feeling such a hopelessly inadequate cat owner.

Does anyone here have any ideas about how I can (a) make my cat feel more cared-about when I'm actually at home and (b) stop his brain shrivelling up and dying of boredom when I'm out at work? Should I leave a radio on? If so, should it be talk radio or music? If music, what kind? Or is peace and silence more important? And is there anything I could put in his cage with him to make his life less dreary? If my own life consisted of just sitting in a tiny cell with only a bed, toilet and food bowl for company, I'd at least be able to try adopting a philosophical attitude, taking deep breaths and attempting to imagine myself somewhere else - but a cat can't really be expected to do that. And three months is one heck of a long time.

If anyone has any (realistic) advice, I'd be grateful to hear it. Thanks for your thoughts.
Last edited by Vietislav on Wed Mar 01, 2017 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Lilith » Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:18 am

Hi Vietislav and welcome.

I'm so very sorry to hear about Mouse. I did a double take when I started reading your thread, as I too have a tuxedo (black) named Mouse. She was a feral street cat but she's a house cat now as she's very timid.

There's another thread on here about a cat confined to 'bed rest' -

https://www.catchat.org/felineforum/vie ... f=9&t=5353

Sami went missing for weeks and was found with a broken back leg and had to undergo the same confinement as Mouse.

Mercifully none of my cats has had to go through this so I haven't any advice, just very sorry that Mouse has been hurt - the roads are a menace - and all very best wishes from me and my Mouse to your Mouse for a speedy recovery x

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by alanc » Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:16 pm

Hi. If you have read the Feisty cat on cage rest thread, you will know what I did for my Tilly, getting on for 4 years ago now. I know it is very worrying having to keep them in a cage for so long, but they do adjust. (After all, it is no worse than some poor cats have to put up with while waiting for a new home.) Tilly is none the worse for her ordeal. She is somewhat less active these days, but that is due to her getting older, not any after effects of her incarceration. If you can, I would strongly advise getting a second crate (I borrowed one from the vets) and putting it alongside the other one to give bigger quarters. Also makes changing litter and bedding much easier! I put the cages in my bedroom and spent as much time as possible with her in the evenings., but could not be there during the working day. I put a number of toys in her cage, but I don't think she played with them much. One advantage I did have was that at that time I had 2 cats, and Badger spent a good deal of time sitting by Tilly's cage, or sleeping on top of it to keep her company. (He also caught a mouse and gave it to Tilly to play with - I never admitted this had happened to the vets!) I very much appreciate that unlike others who have had to post about leg damage on here that Tilly and myself were very fortunate as I found Tilly within 2 hours (probably much less) of her accident and she was at the vets being treated less than an hour later. There was certainly no effect on Tilly's mental ability or prowess as the local mice can verify - they rued the day she was let out again!
Anyhow, fusses to Mouse and hopes for a speedy recovery. Tilly can assure him that it is worth while.

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Vietislav » Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:06 am

Lilith and alanc, many thanks for your responses and please accept my apologies for being so slow to reply. I seem to have very little time at my disposal right now (I think I'd better get up an hour earlier in the morning just to keep on top of the cat situation) - and old Mouse regularly embarks on long bouts of yowling so that I can barely think straight, each yowl coming just two seconds after the previous one. I end up feeling punch-drunk and find it hard to focus on writing. Right this moment, Mouse is yowling away plaintively, on and on and on, so I keep making typos and forgetting what I'm trying to say.

Alanc, I sincerely hope that your encouraging words about how a cat will eventually adjust to the situation turn out to be resoundingly accurate. Mouse and I are only five days into his crate ordeal and the concept of the situation carrying on for perhaps as long as three months just doesn't bear thinking about. I'm very glad to learn that your Tilly came out of her own incarceration with no personality change; I worry that old Mouse may never trust me properly again and may become stand-offish in the future.

I've obtained a second, smaller crate from an animal-mad friend of mine, but on placing the two crates together I find that in order to move from one crate into the other, my cat would have to negotiate a double threshold, three-and-a-half inches high, and I fear that attempting to drag his injured front leg over what's effectively a low fence would do him more harm than good. He simply can't raise his bandaged leg up high enough to get over the barrier. Just seeing him trying to clamber onto and off his litter tray is very upsetting on that score, so it looks like he'll simply have to stay in the one crate. A big shame, because in theory joining two crates together is a very good and humane idea indeed.

You were very lucky to have two other cats in your household at the time of your Tilly's imprisonment. As a single person with only the one cat, I'm acutely aware of the need for me to keep the crate in my living room so that Mouse is at least never more than a few feet away from me for most of the time that I'm actually at home. I keep the main lights on in the room all day long and leave a table lamp on at night so he won't blunder around in the dark, risking further injury whilst negotiating his litter tray. I'm still clueless about what to do when I go out, though. Radio or no radio? Perhaps peace and silence are the best? I just don't want my cat to die of boredom.

Lilith, thanks so much for your very kind words. Also for the link to the other thread. I can at least console myself with the thought that, unlike poor Sami, my Mouse hasn't had to have major metalwork inserted into his body, nor has he suffered an open injury giving rise to infection. My regards to Sami and his owner and best wishes for a full recovery as soon as possible.

I am just so very grateful that Mouse received his injury during such a freakishly mild February week. If he'd spent 36 hours hiding in undergrowth after the car hit him and the weather had been cold and rainy or sub-zero, I fear I would never have seen him again. Stray cats do die of hypothermia, not least because their body temperatures are a couple of degrees higher than our own. In fact Mouse himself was a very terrified stray cat, out in the snow and ice with nowhere to go when I first encountered him at the end of 2010 - terrified of me, terrified of all human beings, hence his name Mouse, which I lifted from the famous Robert Burns poem 'To a Mouse' ('Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie - O, what a panic's in thy breastie!'). I'd never owned a cat before then, nor even planned on owning one, but after five months of panic attacks Mouse stopped panicking and settled down with me, proving to be a seriously life-enhancing wee beastie. And yes, in my own experience, 'tuxedo cats are dog-like' and I love him for it.

Back to the clinic on Monday. Hopefully the vet will increase his painkiller dose as well as changing his bandages, because it breaks my heart seeing Mouse's reaction when sudden spasms of pain hit his fractured leg. He shakes the leg involuntarily and very violently and swiftly, just as if he's been stung by a wasp, and inevitably this means he accidentally beats it against the floor in the process, which is tooth-jarringly agonising to see. I just want him back to his normal beautiful self as soon as possible.

Ey up - he's stopped yowling and gone to sleep. Sweet dreams, bonny lad.

(I'd insert a picture of old Mouse looking beautiful here, but alas even as someone who's had a Photobucket account for ten years I can't seem to figure out how to upload a photo onto this web forum.)

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Janey » Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:58 am

Hi Vietislav, here are instructions on uploading photos:

https://www.catchat.org/felineforum/vie ... f=29&t=227

And I do hope your cat is much better soon, sending lots of gentle cuddles and get well wishes xx

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by alanc » Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:39 pm

Hi Vietislav
I should have remembered to tell you that the first week is the worst. Tilly made at least one escape attempt the first week before settling down to endure her fate. Sorry to hear poor Mouse is still in pain at times and cannot raise his leg enough to get over the threshold. The only way round that I can think of is to put false wooden floors in both of the cages on some 2x1 battens to raise them up high enough. I did not leave a radio or anything on for her. Fortunately for me, Tilly being a Maine Coon is not very vocal. The only time I got the wails from her was when taking her in her cat basket to the specialist vet hospital (1.25 hours up the Motorway to Solihull with Tilly going full volume). I can assure you that in spite of her incarceration, Tilly did not change her attitude and does not run away from me and remains as friendly as she ever was. I very much understand your concern, I had the same worries about Tilly.
Fusses and commiserations to Mouse and assure him he has our sympathy in his predicament.
PS I know Badger was a big cat, but there was only one of him!

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Lilith » Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:49 pm

Aww, what a lovely lad - he's the twin of my Mouse!

My Mouse was six months old when i met her - a feral colony was beginning in the street and I was feeding two adult girls, tortie Tess, who was Mouse's mother, and Emily (avatar cat.) The toms came later. One day they brought along this funny little stunted bandy legged waif - with a perfect Siamese head. My cellar, which has a window, was their 'drop-in' centre, with food, water and tray, and the scruffy little thing just crouched on the cellar grille and stared at me. 'Hullo, Mouse,' I said, and she never got called by any other name. Soon, there was a Mouse in the house! :D

I think, as Alan says, they do adapt, even if they play hell at first; it's rather a cliche but I've found time after time that, even if they're annoyed/angry/hostile about a treatment/regime, they seem to accept that the human is trying to help.

But omg if your Mouse's voice is as bad as my Mouse's voice when she's bawling for her tea ... commiserations! :o

All the very best with him and give him a love from me and my Mouse sends a friendly super-loud purr :)

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Vietislav » Sat Feb 25, 2017 4:17 pm

.

Mouse on a good day. Serious whiskers.
Catchat picture.jpg
Mouse on a not-so-good day. Blue-and-white bandaged leg held out pathetically.
22-02-17_235829.jpg
Janey, many thanks for your advice re. posting photos. I would never have spotted that 'Attachments' tab. Thanks also for the get-well wishes.

Alanc, I misread your comment 'at that time I had two cats' as 'at that time I had two other cats.' I didn't intend insulting Badger's memory by implying that he was a monstrously obese half-ton cat, believe me.

Lilith, I salute your capacity for embracing the feral cat community. Massive respect. Loving wishes duly passed on.

Uh-oh, the yowling's just started again. Earplugs at the ready.

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Lilith » Sat Feb 25, 2017 4:47 pm

Aww, poor old chap! It seems a long time ahead, but he'll be back to what he was, though it may not seem like it at the moment :(

Here is my Mouse -
audrey 001_opt.jpg
audrey 001_opt.jpg (58.99 KiB) Viewed 5909 times
Aah those ferals. As another member on here has said, did I rescue them or did they rescue me? My old cats had died and I thought, no more cats, only want the old cats back. But the ferals thought different! Thanks for the kind words though :D

I lost Tess, Mouse's mother, early January 2007, to the road, still sadly mourned.

Again all the very best to the lad :)

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Vietislav » Sat Feb 25, 2017 5:05 pm

Damn those roads and their new-fangled motor conveyances. Is there anywhere in Britain where it's safe for a cat to live?

Good health and a long life to your Mouse, who I'm pleased to see has some fairly serious whiskers too. Mind you, she'll put her back out by lolling around like that if she's not careful. That's exactly what I did myself. Sit up straight, that's the trick.

Incidentally, the vet told me that I should possibly try attaching a water dispenser to the side of the cat's crate. He recommended a type of dispenser which is normally used for rabbits (avoids a water-bowl being accidentally kicked over), but the vet is Italian and I couldn't quite understand his description of it. Does anyone reading this know what he's referring to? A rabbit-loving friend of mine tells me there's a water dispenser which guinea-pigs and rabbits suck water out of, but could a cat's mouth manage to do that too? I'm a little confused.

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by alanc » Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:36 pm

Mouse looks one impressive cat. Tilly's habit of sticking her bandaged paw in her water bowl was one of the reasons I increased the size of her quarters. Fortunately, she only had to have the bandage on for one week, though we got through several bandages in that time!
Would think this gadget would do the trick, but would take a bit of knocking together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcRIyqFUdug
While I haven't tried it on Tilly, I would not have thought a cat could cope very well with those rabbit/hamster type water dispensers. This kind of thing http://www.lazada.com.my/stainless-stee ... 05895.html which latches onto the side mesh of the crate might be what your vet was thinking of.
Badgers shade is not offended at all! He was a Maine Coon like Tilly, only bigger. 7.8kg of bone and muscle in his prime so there was quite enough of him to be two cats - he certainly weighed as much as my previous two cats combined!

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Lilith » Sat Feb 25, 2017 10:09 pm

Vietislav wrote:
Good health and a long life to your Mouse, who I'm pleased to see has some fairly serious whiskers too. Mind you, she'll put her back out by lolling around like that if she's not careful. That's exactly what I did myself. Sit up straight, that's the trick.
Lol they never do though do they? Cats can get away with anything - I mean, how do they sleep for 20 hours out of the 24 - or more - and not get bedsores? :? :D

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Mayday21 » Sun Feb 26, 2017 12:21 am

Hi Vietslave sorry to read of Mouse's injury. It's so heartbreaking when you are trying to do the right thing & they don't understand. Mayday had a horrific accident & ended up having to have her back left leg amputated. I kept her confined in my middle bedroom. She was in great pain. The only person she'd eat for was my dad. He'd sit on the carpet and put tuna in his hand and she'd eat very slowly. I can still see the pain in her eyes. Please give Mouse haps of fusses from me. Vivian

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Lilith » Sun Feb 26, 2017 1:20 pm

Aww poor Mayday - I can well understand that terror; she must have thought she'd landed up in a nightmare. But she went on trusting you after the first shock. I've had to nurse very poorly cats on occasion, and found that we've had a much closer relationship afterwards - though the last way in which I'd have wanted this to happen of course. Hope Mouse is settling a bit more now Vietislav, the crate looks nice and roomy even though it's a shame he couldn't manage the two put together.

ps I do love the phrase 'serious whiskers'! :D
Last edited by Lilith on Sun Feb 26, 2017 2:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Vietislav » Sun Feb 26, 2017 1:53 pm

Oh jeez Vivian, poor Mayday. I was dreading being told that my cat's leg had been completely smashed - I just don't know what I'd have done, not least because a cat with a missing front leg would be unable to defend itself against attack by the local vicious cat. Yet at the same time I'd feel dreadful not letting a former outdoor cat venture outside for fear of attack. Hopefully Mayday's feline adaptability has come to the fore since her injury, but it hurts to read that you can still see the pain in her eyes. I'm sure you surround her with as much love as is humanly possible though. Thanks for sharing.

Lilith, that's very reassuring that in your experience deeper bonding can result from nursing. I'll hold that thought over the next few months.

Alanc, thanks for the video link. Not quite ready to have my home replumbed yet, but it's certainly a good idea, isn't it? As for the wall-mounted water bowl.... Hmmm. On the plus side, it can't be kicked over. On the minus side, my cat keeps (literally) climbing the walls in a bid to find an escape route, so he might just knock the bowl off the wall in the process. But once he's finally admitted defeat and decided to do his porridge without a murmur, it may well be just the ticket.

Thanks to you all for caring. (Not quite so much yowling today, which is a move in the right direction. Back to the vet's tomorrow, for the weekly sedation-and-rebandaging session at £80 a throw. Ulp.)

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Crewella » Sun Feb 26, 2017 7:44 pm

If you've read the other threads then you'll know that my Basil had to go through weeks and weeks of cage rest when he had a smashed leg after being hit by a car. I'm afraid the best advice I can give you is to harden your heart, to a degree. They DO adapt and learn to cope with the incarceration, however much they hate it, and sometimes if you fuss too much it can just prolong the situation. Most cats, most animals in general in fact, have a great capacity to adapt to situations like this, and once they've understood that 'this is how it is' they will usually cope well. It's just the first few days that are so heart-rending.

It's horrible seeing them looking miserable, but it's absolutely vital that they do remain quiet and in the crate for the prescribed time, and it's absolutely worth it if it helps them to recover and even helps save a leg. I really hope he settles, give him a gentle fuss from me. xx

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Vietislav » Tue Feb 28, 2017 3:26 pm

Crewella, thanks for the practical advice. I'm sincerely hoping that the first week is/was indeed the worst - but dear god, the yowling was dreadful at breakfast time today (day 8) and very nearly sent me off my chump. Hopefully old Mouse'll acclimatise any moment now.

Did your Basil have to have his leg rebandaged every week, complete with sedative? If so, I'd be very keen to compare notes about the effects of the sedative, which frankly are scaring the bejaysus out of me and I'm worried that protracted use may actually damage my cat's brain.

Thanks for posting (and for caring enough to do so).

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Crewella » Tue Mar 07, 2017 2:16 pm

Sorry, been away. No, Basil had a metal pin and external fixator, so no bandages involved. No sedatives either.

I must admit sedatives scare me too, but my willingness to use them would depend on how freaked out my cat was without them - obviously I'd always go for the lesser of the two evils, and sedatives do have their uses. I hope all is well. xx

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Llama » Sun Oct 06, 2019 9:57 am

Can I ask how Mouse is please? Our little Llama experienced the same thing as Mouse and we are the first couple of days into caged rest and she is beside herself unhappy about it, which is of course upsetting us a lot as cat parents. I would love to know how Mouse coped and if the howling stopped? Thank you from a very upset cat mum :(

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by Angie-J » Sun Oct 06, 2019 12:07 pm

Hi Llama

It may be worthwhile adding this as a new topic so that more people see it and are able to give you advice and ideas to help your little one.

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Re: Mental Stimulation for an Injured Cat Confined to a Crate?

Post by alanc » Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:32 pm

Hi Llama
I can only assure you that my Tilly coped. As I said up the thread, the first weeks were the worst and she did try to escape a few times early on, but then settled down. She recovered completely, you would never know by looking at her that she had had an accident at all.

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