Narrow Arrow Escape

Friday, May 6th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

It’s no secret among senior fitness professionals that many older adult exercise participants are devoted pet lovers. Some older individuals care for their own furry friends, some financially support animal rescue organizations, and others volunteer their time and energy. Therefore, you may wish to share the following inspirational story with your clients:

Yes, Virginia: There really is a cat with nine lives, and he owes all of them to a concerned citizen, veterinarians from Ocala and the University of Florida, a generous benefactor — and a whole lot of luck.

After an arrow penetrated the chest of a stray cat in Marion County in mid-March, a concerned citizen from Dunnellon contacted Sheltering Hands, a local cat rescue group, for help. The citizen and her neighbors knew the cat to be friendly with children, not feral, but did not know who owned him.

“Law enforcement authorities and Marion County Animal Services had been contacted early on, but were unable to trap the cat because the width of the arrow would not allow him to enter a standard trap,” said Dr. Kathleen Fleck, a veterinarian who works part time with Brick City Cat Hospital in Ocala and volunteers with Sheltering Hands. “By this time, he was too scared to come to anyone willingly. He wandered the neighborhood this way for nearly a week.”

The Dunnellon newspaper even ran a small article about his predicament, and at that point, the concerned citizen contacted Sheltering Hands.

“One of our dedicated volunteers obtained access to a very large dog trap and spent two days coaxing him into it,” Fleck said. “When he arrived at Brick City Cat Hospital, he was quite septic and it was determined that without immediate surgery to remove the arrow from his chest, he would surely die.”

Fleck said a benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, stepped forward to assist with the cost of transporting the cat — now known as “Arrow” — to the UF Small Animal Hospital. The trip proved to be quite dramatic.

“He tried twice to go into respiratory arrest and had to be on oxygen support in the back seat of my truck with my technician doing the bagging (to supply oxygen) during the entire 45-minute trip,” Fleck recalled.

Arrow arrived at UF the morning of March 12 in critical condition, requiring
ventilation with oxygen through an endotracheal tube.

“Fluid and air were drained off his chest, and he then received fluids and medications to stabilize his blood pressure,” said Dr. Jordan Nickell, an intern with the UF Small Animal Hospital’s emergency service.

A CT scan revealed that the arrow had passed right through his chest between his
heart and diaphragm, fortunately missing the cat’s major blood vessels and many other vital structures, UF veterinarians said.

Dr. Stanley Kim and Dr. Laura Cuddy performed surgery to remove the arrow and treat the severe infection in the cat’s chest. Parts of Arrow’s lung lobes were removed because of damage from the injury, and the cat remained hospitalized under Cuddy’s care for another week while infected fluid was drained from his chest and he received antibiotics and pain medications.

Arrow’s condition improved and he was discharged from UF on March 18 to a volunteer, who transported him back to Fleck.

“So far, the story is very positive,” Fleck said. “Arrow remains in my foster care under Sheltering Hands and now is weighing in at about 10 pounds. Initially, he weighed less than 8 pounds. He really has had no problems beyond
the normal healing process.”

Fleck said Arrow stayed on antibiotics for six weeks, and that other than treatment for internal parasites and vaccines, he has not needed additional treatment.

“Except for his funky body Mohawk haircut, it would be difficult to appreciate how extensive his injuries were,” Fleck said. “He is a total lover and I am
hoping he is able to find a perfect forever home in the near future.”

She added that Sheltering Hands was taking applications from prospective owners, and would be selecting Arrow’s new owner very carefully.

“We want to do our best to make sure he never has to fight for his life again,” she said. “Thanks to the UF emergency team’s excellent response, Arrow is with us today.”

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