Update: January 19th
We are incredibly happy to announce that Robert headed home today with his new family! Wayne did indeed adopt Robert, and after visits this weekend to get to know each other, Wayne and his family officially welcomed Robert home this afternoon.
A big thank you for everyone’s support over the past week! We will keep you updated on how Robert is settling into his new life. Robert’s donation campaign was a great success and is now closed for donations.
Meet Robert the kitten! He was found nearly frozen to death, injured and stuck to a vehicle engine. He was rescued by the Moncton Fire Department and received life-saving care at here at The Oaks Vet.
Last week’s frigid weather and snow storm culminated in a miraculous rescue of a stray kitten who was found frozen to a vehicle engine. The good samaritan who refused to give up searching for the source of the pitiful meows in the wee hours of the morning and the subsequent rescuers raced against the clock to free the kitten and give him a chance of survival, against all odds.
A frantic meow was heard in the quiet, wintery darkness which got the attention of one of the residents. The good samaritan spent hours outside searching for the source of the cry, on the coldest night in Moncton so far this winter. The meow was finally identified to be coming from inside the hood of a vehicle in the parking lot. The rescue effort continued when the owner of the vehicle was contacted and the hood opened to free the kitten, but what they found was very unexpected: a grey kitten was lodged barely visible between the alternator and motor, and he was injured and stuck. A phone call was quickly made to the authorities, who dispatched a fire crew to assist with the rescue. The Moncton Fire Department arrived, then called in an officer especially to disassemble the vehicle engine. The alternator was removed, and shockingly, the kitten was found to be stuck to the fan belt by a large open wound, requiring the belt to be cut in order to remove the kitten from the engine. During this time the kitten’s condition rapidly deteriorated due to prolonged exposure to bone chilling -35ᵒC weather.
As soon as the kitten was freed, an officer from the Moncton FD rushed the kitten to The Oaks Vet for emergency care. The kitten presented cold, stiff, non-responsive, not moving and barely breathing. His heart rate was very slow, close to stopping. There was an open wound encompassing his entire left forelimb and a piece of rubber fan belt was adhered to the wound. The kitten had evidence of frostbite on the nose and lips.
He was treated in the ICU for life-threatening hypothermia, severe shock, wounds and frostbite. He initially had elevations of his kidney enzymes, and the following day he developed a fever, low white blood cell count, electrolyte imbalance and severe pain in the affected limb, in spite of strong pain medication. He also developed a coagulopathy (his blood could not clot properly) and could not move his tail, evidence that frostbite had set in, causing irreversible damage to the blood supply of the tail. He was assessed as having compartment syndrome in the severely damaged limb and the early signs of a blood infection (sepsis).
A joint decision was made between the critical care veterinarian and the surgeon to act quickly and have emergency limb amputation before his condition worsened, as the limb was the source of his deteriorating status. The surgeon was called in for emergency surgery to amputate the affected limb, and it was also determined that his tail was too damaged from frostbite injury to be viable. The kitten did well during anesthesia and had a stable recovery in the 24 hour intensive care unit.
In these days following rescue, the kitten’s critical condition continues to improve. He has won the hearts of all involved in his incredible rescue – the good samaritans who found him, the Moncton FD and the staff at The Oaks Veterinary Emergency & Referral Hospital. He has a purr that can be heard across the room, eats ravenously when offered kitten food and enjoys being cuddled and petted.
At the request of the Moncton Fire Department he was named Robert, after the officer who spent several hours with his bare hands disassembling the vehicle engine on the coldest day of the winter so far.
Robert is an incredibly lucky kitten and has so far beaten great odds, but his fight is not over yet.
This fundraiser has been set up in support of Robert and to cover his on-going medical expenses and promote public awareness of hypothermia injury to pets. You can donate here. Any funds donated in excess of the cost of Robert’s medical bills will be donated to the Moncton SPCA. If you would like to support Robert on his road to recovery, donations can also be made in person at The Oaks Vet or at the Moncton SPCA.
Once Robert is stable enough to be released from the veterinary hospital, he will be available for adoption through the SPCA. He will be looking for a forever home suitable for his special needs, inquiries for adoption can be made to the Moncton SPCA.
This incredible story has two take home messages – The first, hypothermia and exposure injury are a serious threat to the pet population on these cold winter days. Please make every effort to keep your pets indoors during the extreme cold. The second, stray cats will often be attracted to the heat of a vehicle engine and climb up inside the engine or wheel-well for heat. Most cats in Robert’s situation do not survive, and if not for the prompt rescue efforts, Robert would have succumbed to exposure and hypothermia. Before starting your vehicle and driving off, please give the hood a tap or honk your horn to allow any stray cats the opportunity to escape before injury occurs.