After administering sedation and pain meds we cleaned and evaluated the legs. In addition to the very swollen front limb the other limbs all had puncture wounds with small amounts of swelling, edema and cellulitis. What seemed odd about this is that a cat usually only sustains injury to one or two areas of the body in a fight-typically once they get bit good on one leg, they don't hang around to get bit on all the others. Since there was so much swelling in the bad leg it was impossible to evaluate the bones so I decided to take an x-ray to see if there was any bone damage or infection.
This is what we got.
Yep, gunshot wounds. The bullet spray must have also hit the other legs, just to a lesser extent. There are multiple fractures here in case you are wondering. However, with the amount of swelling and drainage we can't splint it. Also, there is a chance that there will be collateral damage from the swelling if blood supply or nerves have been damaged. Sloughing of skin or permanent nerve damage is not out of the question. There is also the possibility these fractures will never heal adequately-but this is a cat so we are hopeful. There are worse fates than amputation.
While there is no shortage of buckshot in rural missouri animals, most of the time it's just an incidental finding on an x-ray, not the actual issue at hand. So I have to admit I felt a little like I was on a cop show today when I got to diagnose the infamous GSW.
This x-ray was pretty spectacular from a pathology standpoint, not so much for the cat. Such is the case with most things in medicine-the more abnormal it is, the "cooler" it is. Normal just ain't fun, sadly, my inner pathologist says. Unless it's my pet, then normal is just fine.