“You know, not everybody who gets shot in the face can wake up and be in a good mood.”
KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – A cat shot in Sullivan county last week has been making a remarkable recovery, complete with a media appearance.
Louise was found injured last Thursday after her owner reported hearing a shot in the Orebank area of Kingsport, and was taken immediately to the Indian Ridge Animal Hospital for emergency care. Bleeding from the mouth and nose, doctors initially had a hard time telling what exactly was wrong.
“I first heard about Louise when my assistant came to me and I was seeing another client and they said ‘There’s a cat in the back that’s been shot in the face. Can you please come and take a look at her?'” said Dr. Kaitlyn Eubanks, an associate vet with the clinic. “They weren’t incredibly worried that she was unstable because she was purring, but she did have a big hole in her face.”
Louise’s maxilla, the bone holding the teeth in the upper right side of her mouth, had been completely destroyed. Her hard palate was severely damaged, and pieces of shrapnel were buried all throughout her face and neck.
Dr. Eubanks and staff got to work for an emergency surgery, eventually cleaning, suturing and reconstructing much of the initial damage they found. Then Louise settled in for a long night, and Eubanks hoped for the best.
“She woke up from anesthesia really well, she was purring again,” Dr. Eubanks said. “Then things just kind of went from there. She’s been an incredibly resilient cat, she’s one of a kind.”
All this, despite the feeding tube embedded in her throat.
The one-year-old cat has actually been the model patient for Indian Ridge’s staff, and Dr. Eubanks said she hasn’t reacted with fear or anger during any of her procedures.
“Taking care of her has been fantastic, she takes all of her medications easily,” Dr. Eubanks said. “She’s easy to feed through her esophageal feeding tube, which we put in place to help immobilize the upper jaw area so she wouldn’t have to eat as much by herself. She’s been a delight.”
In an April 1st visit with News Channel 11, Louise was up and loving on everyone she could reach. The wrapping on her feeding tube gave her a bit of an itch, but she was more active than what many cat owners see out of their own healthy felines.
“You know, not everybody who gets shot in the face can wake up and be in a good mood ready to be petted and loved on,” Dr. Eubanks said. “So, it’s been a real blessing to work with Louise.”
Now that the short-term scare is over, Dr. Eubanks said the real fight is going to be in the long term. The shot damaged Louise’s sinus, so if it grows back incorrectly she could face minor breathing issues. With the lack of a solid palate and several missing teeth, eating may be slower as well. None of these issues, however, will keep her from leading a full life, Dr. Eubanks said.
“Cats are amazing, they’ll heal through things that you don’t think are possible,” Dr. Eubanks added. “The progress she’s shown in just a week, I think it’s very promising for her long-term recovery. I think that she will probably make a full recovery, and as long as we don’t have continued issue with the healing inside the mouth, which is the most critical area, I think she’s going to do very well.”
Louise’s biggest problem may end up being that too many people want to give her a forever home. The Humane Society of Washington County has already received a number of requests to foster and adopt the girl once she has recovered, and have already lined up a possible temporary caregiver while she recovers.
Louise’s brother Marvin is also moving into Humane Society HQ, as he was just signed over to the organization too. His owner was worried about potential retaliation by the person who shot Louise, and wanted them to remain together. He’ll be up for adoption, and depending on how bonded they are Marvin and Louise may come as a brother-sister pair.
“We’re going to be very meticulous about the person or the family or whatever the arrangement’s going to be,” said Cody Storm, executive director of the Washington County Humane Society. “Obviously she’s going to need some level of care from here to the rest of her life, but for the most part we’re going to accept applications for Louise, and we’re going to review it and she’s going to go to the family, the household that’s going to take care of her and be her forever family.”
With Louise’s care ongoing, the Humane Society of Washington County (HSWC) is running a fundraiser to help offset those costs. So far, they’ve already surpassed the first projected $2,000 bill and are well on their way to financing Louise’s future care.
“Internally I had set a goal, I thought it would be fantastic if we could get two grand and we are over that,” said Halee Robinson, cat program director with HSWC. “We’re up to $2,100. So we are just blown away, and so thankful for the community and all that they do to help us.”
As for potential suspects, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office’s (SCSO) investigation is still active and ongoing. As of a Friday afternoon update, no arrests have been made in connection to the case.
“As with any investigation,” SCSO Captain Andy Seabolt told News Channel 11. “Interviews have to be conducted, statements collected, and much more.”