One lucky kitty

lucky-desk
Lucky’s final surgical procedure took place in February 2020. The recovered kitten was adopted in March 2020. Photo: Katie Brickman-Young.

Eight months ago, luck had run out for a severely injured kitten found crawling outside a group home in Nipawin, Sask.

When Lori Kott heard a meowing outside the group home’s window, she found a helpless and weak kitten with a badly injured hind leg. The local resident took the kitten to the town’s local veterinary clinic for help.

Christened “Lucky,” the six-month-old kitten was suffering from dehydration and infection. She had also lost all the skin over her back and right hind leg, along with part of her tail. Lucky’s injuries were probably caused by a fan belt after the kitten climbed inside the engine compartment of a vehicle to stay warm in the cold October weather.

Under the veterinary care of Dr. Karen Sigfrid (WCVM ’00) at Tisdale’s Northeast Veterinary Services, Lucky underwent two surgeries followed by weeks of antibiotics and bandages. Because of the infection, the clinical team had to amputate some of Lucky’s toes.

In early December, Sigfrid and her clinical team referred Lucky to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) Veterinary Medical Centre to see if small animal surgeon Dr. Kathleen Linn could help save Lucky’s leg.

“Dr. Sigfrid played such a role in helping Lucky. They took her in, did the initial vital stabilization and wound care,” says Linn. “They saved her life and put a lot of heart and soul into her.”

Animal care fund supports Lucky

When Lucky came to the WCVM, she had grown her skin back, but she couldn’t extend her leg due to a scar running from her knee to her pelvis. In February, Linn performed a “Z-plasty” surgery to lengthen the leg so Lucky can have more mobility. This plastic surgery technique helps to improve the functional and cosmetic appearance of scars.

“Before we did the scar revision, her back leg was stuck in a pulled forward position,” says Linn. “The day after the scar revision, she spent time stretching out the back leg because she hadn’t been able to do that before. She was grateful for that.”

Lucky walks with a limp, but she doesn’t let that slow her down. One of her favourite things is fetching and playing.

“She may always walk with a limp, but even so, she is fast, very inquisitive and wants to explore,” says Linn.

Since Lucky didn’t have an owner, the WCVM’s Les and Irene Dubé Good Samaritan Fund helped with the cost of the surgery. Sigfrid also helped cover the cost of the initial wound and recovery process.

The WCVM’s animal care fund, which was established in 2011, helps to provide medical treatment for animals that are ownerless or owned by clients who cannot pay for care due to circumstances beyond their control.

In June 2020, the fund’s name was changed in recognition of a $1-million-dollar gift from Saskatoon philanthropists Les and Irene Dubé. 

“Lucky wouldn’t have been able to be treated otherwise without the [Les and Irene Dubé] Good Samaritan Fund,” says Linn.

Besides her role as a small animal surgeon, Linn is a professor at the regional veterinary college. Since Lucky’s treatment was “vaguely orthopedic,” Linn brought Lucky into her third-year small animal clinical orthopedics course and explained the procedure she had done on Lucky.

From that class, WCVM third-year veterinary student Siobhan Semadeni offered to foster Lucky.

“My friend was in Dr. Linn’s lecture and sent me a bunch of videos of Lucky climbing on desks,” says Semadeni. “I have a soft spot for disabled animals and my friend mentioned that Lucky was looking for a foster [home], so I talked to Dr. Linn about potentially becoming a foster.”

The eight-month-old cat spent a couple of months recovering with Semadeni, who appreciated Lucky’s glowing emerald eyes and spunky personality.

“She is very much her own person,” says Semadeni. “I love her very individualized personality and relate to her hard-headedness. She is incredibly curious, always excited to stare out the window or investigate all new noises.”

In March, Lucky found her forever home in Vancouver, B.C.

“One of my oldest friends is adopting her. I spent a month sending her all my cute pictures and she decided she wanted her,” says Semadeni, who helped to make Lucky’s travel arrangements. “This is ideal for me because I can still see Lucky, but I don’t have to worry about her feeling neglected during my fourth year.”

Lucky wouldn’t have this opportunity without the help and support from Nipawin resident Lori Kott, North West SPCA vice-chair Jessie Harper, along with Sigfrid and the team at the Northeast Veterinary Services. The community initially held a fundraiser to help pay for Lucky’s surgeries and took care of her while in recovery.

“Dr. Sigfrid is an excellent example of what veterinarians do — they do what they can to help animals,” said Linn.

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