Katie – R Achilles (“Gastroc”) Tear in Cat
Meet Katie, our December 2018 Pet of the Month! Katie is a ten-year-old Domestic Shorthair cat, who suffered a torn right Achilles tendon after she fell off the counter in September. Upon further evaluation, it was found that she tore her gastrocnemius muscle at the muscle-tendon interface. Her injury was actually the result of chronic degenerative changes in the tendon and the fall was the final straw. The gastrocnemius tendon is an important part of the group of tendons which make up the Achilles tendon. The gastrocnemius muscle, which is part of the calf muscle, is responsible for straightening the foot. This allows to push and roll off of our feet when walking. Katie’s tendon that connected her gastrocnemius to the “heel” bone tore. She was very painful as a result on the day of the injury, but her veterinary team helped manage her pain and supported her in a bandage for a few days until surgery could be performed.
On September 17th, Katie had surgery to repair the damaged tendon and was in a rigid bandage for several weeks afterwards. Tendons and ligaments heal very slowly since they do not have much active blood flow, so they need extra support during the healing process. Katie needed regular bandage changes with strict care instructions to prevent wounds or tissue damage. We met Katie on November 15th and casted her for a custom orthotic support from OrthoPets to help give her tendon ongoing support over the next several months. Her orthotic device is easier to maintain than the bandage as it allows air to contact her skin and it can be removed for Katie to have breaks or if she gets it dirty.
Katie was fitted with her custom Achilles orthosis was on December 5th and she did fantastic. The orthotic device weighs about the same as her bulky bandage did, but does not extend as high up her leg and it also allows her limb to be positioned in a more normal position overall. These advantages of shorter height and better joint alignment allow her more movement at her knee when walking. She was able to navigate and even enter her carrier using her new device consistently on the very first day.
Over time, we will make small modifications to her device to allow more movement in her ankle joint, which will slowly introduce some load onto her Achilles tendon. We are very excited to see how this little one progresses in the future!