Yorba Linda Cats in Need, a local rescue group, brought a flame point Siamese mix into our clinic for examination. The 1-year-old kitty, named Angel, had been captured and treated over the previous month for wounds she sustained when her front right leg had been caught in her harness. It was unknown how long her leg had been trapped, but she had been observed hiding for months in an industrial building’s alleyway. During this time she had a kitten and started to limp. Four different rescue groups had tried to capture her. She was very elusive. Although she had been wearing a flea collar and harness, she did not have an identification tag or microchip. Angel had likely been someone’s pet, but there was no way to find her owners, It was unknown whether she had been abandoned.


We saw Angel for a second opinion on how to treat a wound in her armpit. It had improved and contracted over the previous six weeks, but it would not close. She had not had any surgery. The armpit is a tricky area to work with due to friction and the mobility of the front leg. We recommended some more medical care and observation, but after about six more weeks, we knew the wound would not heal without surgery.

Angel’s first surgery involved creating a pocket around her elbow that would relieve tension in her armpit and allow the wound to heal. Things looked good for several weeks, but even with an Elizabethan collar and restricted activity, the wound would not heal.

A second surgery was scheduled. This time we planned to culture the tissue to see if there were any unusual bacteria that were preventing healing. A more aggressive surgical procedure called a thoraco-dorsal flap was performed. During this surgery, tissue from the side of Angel’s chest was lifted and rotated into her armpit area. The flap relieved tension in her armpit and allowed for full movement of her front leg without damaging tissue.

The culture of her wound grew a MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus). This is a bug that is resistant to many antibiotics. This infection was part of the reason her wound had not healed.

Fortunately the second surgery successfully closed the wound and allowed her full use and motion of her right front leg. The bacterial culture allowed us to change the antibiotic she was taking and clear the underlying infection.

It was six months between Angel’s capture and her complete recovery. Angel didn’t learn to love us at the clinic. Her natural instincts were to resist restraint, and she associated us with her discomfort. She did learn to tolerate her Elizabethan collar and did well with her pain medications.

Luckily for Angel, she had a patient foster caretaker, through Yorba Linda Cats in Need, who loved her and formally adopted her when she was healed and healthy. Angel had been isolated during the treatment period but is now fully integrated into her home and hangs out with the other pets in the household. Angel went from being a freeliving, wildly behaving cat to a great house pet. Our clinic team is thrilled that this helpless cat had a happy ending to her story.

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