Hopity, a twelve week-old Balinese kitten, has a dramatic deformity on her back leg, and it can’t stay the way it is…
Whilst some may have put her to sleep, owner Sue thinks Hopity deserves a chance and seeks Noel’s help. He can try and straighten her leg, but there’s no guarantee it will work out, in which case Hopity will have to lose her leg. However, the operation alone is a huge risk, as surgery on a tiny kitten is extremely tricky and delicate- not only due to her size but also because even the smallest amounts of medication have a huge effect- and it’s perilous to her little heart to put her under general anaesthetic…
Hopity, a beautiful Balinese kitten, arrived at the clinic a tiny white bundle of fluff! The small kitten had a serious deformity of her right hind limb meaning she was finding it progressively difficult to walk. Hopity’s owners were desperate to help her to live a normal life and were referred to see Noel as the last hope for saving Hopity’s leg.
It was clear from the outset that Hopity’s deformity was one of the most serious Noel had ever seen and it wasn’t clear whether he would be able to help fix Hopity’s leg. X-ray images and a CT scan were carried out to get a clearer idea of the underlying situation. The images allowed Noel to see that Hopity’s hock joint (akin to the human ankle joint) was seriously malformed which was causing the rest of the bones in the ankle to become misaligned.
While Noel couldn’t guarantee success for Hopity with surgical intervention, her family wanted to give Hopity a chance to overcome her deformity. Noel proceeded with surgical intervention and used a device known as a circular external fixator to realign the ankle and knee joints and fuse her malformed ankle joint. With this frame (weighing almost as much as the little kitten!) Hopity was diligently cared for by the ward nurses, and the physiotherapy team got to work with Hopity only days after surgery to help her gain the confidence to use her leg.
After a few weeks at Fitzpatrick Referrals, Hopity, now doubled in size, had her frame removed. Thankfully her limb was now well aligned but her ankle joint had not fused as hoped. Hopity returned to theatre once again for another more minor procedure to stabilise her ankle joint.
Hopity coped remarkably well with her stay in the hospital and she was discharged to complete her recovery at home. Two weeks after discharge Hopity returned for recheck examination and the team was delighted to see her doing so well – she was using her limb nicely and her family were struggling to keep her from running around and jumping!
Soon, when the bones have finished healing, she will be allowed to return to normal activities running and jumping all over the place – and truly earning her name by being able to “hop” from chair to sofa!
In Noel’s words
I love operating on ‘babies’ because I know that they have their whole lives ahead to enjoy the fruit of our labour. In a case like this, the real challenges were super-soft and tiny bones as well as tightening of the muscles and tendons, plus the blood vessels and nerves were all in the wrong positions – tricky! Recovery is about more than surgery though and I’m really proud of the whole team that looked after her – thanks to all the ward assistants, nurses and physiotherapists that contributed to this wonderful result. You rock! Hopity rocks also – she’s the sweetest most gorgeous kitten and we are all excited that she’ll now have the chance to go on and live a long and happy life on four legs.