Vickie Byard, CVT, (certified veterinary technician) works at Rau Animal Hospital, in Glenside, Pennsylvania, where she has been the technician supervisor for the past 19 years. But this story is not about her. The heart of this story wraps around a brave family, a wonderful police and fire department, an incredible medical team, and one courageous cat.
On the fateful day, the technician team was about to leave, when over the intercom, the receptionist informed them that a cat was being brought in which had been impaled on a fence. The estimated time of arrival at the hospital was ten minutes. Not knowing exactly what was ahead, the team began preparing the exam room for the cat’s arrival.
When Vickie saw the cat, she knew that this was not going to be any ordinary case and Cleo, the cat, was taken directly to the operating room. “In all my practice, I have never had my stomach sink so quickly.” Pennsylvania had experienced some unusually hot days and Cleo managed to squeeze through an open window to walk in the sun on the roof. Seeing a nearby branch, she attempted a jump that would become her undoing. Apparently, her jumping skills were not as she imagined and she fell onto a wrought iron fence below.
The cat’s owner and her daughter found Cleo impaled on the fence. Together they bound the cat tightly to the fence with brown packing tape and called the police department. When the police officers saw the fence and the cat, they knew they would need the fire department’s help and their tools to cut the cat free. The rescue took over an hour while the firemen sawed through each piece of the fence.
Cleo, the mother, and daughter all arrived at the animal hospital amazingly calm. They reassured Cleo that everything would be fine as they held the cat’s body motionless, carrying the fence and cat as one. The veterinarians and veterinary technicians took over Cleo’s care with the first order of business being pain control. However, when they attempted to place an IV catheter, Cleo wanted to move. The fear was that movement would be detrimental, so an injection of pain medicine was given in the muscle. The veterinary technicians talked to the cat for the next ten minutes, trying to calm her, while the pain medication took effect. For a cat impaled on a fence, Cleo was remarkably alert, calm, and her gums were pink.
As the pain medicine began to work, the veterinary technicians on the trauma team were able to place an IV catheter and begin administering fluids and an anesthetic agent. They then took a radiograph to determine just where the fence was in the cat’s body. Unfortunately, the x-ray did not provide enough information so Cleo was taken to the operating room to be separated from the fence. Intravenous antibiotics were administered and it was time to begin “unwrapping” the cat which was the only way to determine how badly she was hurt.
Cleo was shaved and the area cleaned where the fence entered her body. A lubricant jelly was applied to the wound area. Half of the team held the fence steady and half of the team pulled Cleo from the fence. Amazingly, there was almost no bleeding. Apparently, the fence posts had entered her body, missed all vital organs and vessels, and exited through her back near her front shoulder blade. She was given additional antibiotics, pain medication, and her affected front leg was put in a sling. After three days of cage rest Cleo went home.
Since her adventure, Cleo has come back to the hospital for follow up visits, and except for some missing hair, you would never know anything had happened. Her cool headed family played a critical role in her survival when they taped her to the fence to keep her from struggling. Then the dedicated veterinarians and veterinary technicians at Rau Animal Hospital, worked together as a team to save her life. She is one lucky cat who lives to enjoy another sunny day!