View Full Version : Feline fine: There's no slowing Shamus the cat

09-23-2004, 09:42 PM

Feline fine: There's no slowing Shamus the cat
By Elizabeth Malloy/ [email protected]
Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Shamus always lands on his feet - both of them.

Since he arrived as a stray at the Hickman family's home on Eames Way four years ago, the orange tomcat has had to go through a series of surgeries that have left him with only two legs, but despite his handicap, Shamus has maintained his feline swagger, and likes to run around the house and yard.

"He gets around; he runs up a whole flight of stairs, he uses the litter box," said Holly Hickman, a college student who owns Shamus with her sister Greta and mother Jill. "He hates our cat Rachel, he kicked her out of the front yard the other day."

The Hickmans have five cats all together, four females in addition to Shamus along with several geese and chickens. The cats were all strays taken in by the Hickmans, but Shamus was a special case, Holly said.

He first began coming around the Hickman's house in the middle of winter four years ago, and Jill fed him so he kept returning periodically. After several weeks, the family noticed Shamus' back right leg was severely injured, his paw swollen to the size of a human hand. Veterinarians at Duxbury Animal Hospital tried to save the leg but the injury was too extensive and they were forced to amputate.

"Then he had three legs and he was fine on his three legs," Holly said. "Then about a year later, I noticed what I thought was a callous on his front foot."

The bump turned out to be a tumor. The Hickman's brought Shamus to a specialist in Bourne who said he could remove the tumor, and in the process two of Shamus' toes, but the growth would most likely come back. Last August it did grow back, and it was larger than a golf ball, Holly said.

The Hickman's had two choices: put Shamus to sleep or remove his other right leg. They only had about a day to make the choice because their vet was going away, but Holly said she had a feeling the cat had not yet used all nine of his lives.

"I came home one night, and he'll always run over to my truck when I get home, and he's holding up his bad foot and he's walking on his other two, and I thought, 'I really think he'll be able to walk on two legs,'" she said. "I feel like if the vet never removed his tumor, and it didn't have a chance to come back, he wouldn't have taught himself, but because it grew back over a year and it was painful to put pressure on, he taught himself how to walk on two legs."

The vet agreed to the third operation, and Shamus lost his front right leg to another amputation.

The cat recovered quickly, according to Holly, eating and purring the day after surgery.

"I was afraid he'd just be in a funk or be depressed," she said. "Two days after surgery he came home and I made him a bed because I didn't think he'd be able to get around, and within two minutes he was up, running through the kitchen seeing if there was any food."

While the Hickmans are happy Shamus is doing well, his veterinary bills have been high, totaling about $5,000, and with Holly and her sister in college, it has caused some strain on the family finances. Since friends, family and neighbors have been so enthralled with the cat, they decided to hold a fundraiser at their house earlier in September. Holly said they had a DJ, food and about 50 guests who donated about $700 towards the final bill, which was $1,200.

"Our next stop is the Marshfield Fair freak show to pay off the rest," she joked, scratching under the cat's chin. "A lot of people say to me, 'You're nuts,' but he's happy. I would have put him to sleep in a second if he wasn't happy."

Shamus cannot run with the same ease as other cats, but he can run with a kind of off-balance hop that gets him where he needs to go. Holly said the family doesn't like to let him outside by himself, especially at night when foxes and coyotes come out in their heavily wooded area of Marshfield, but sometimes the feline, ever an outdoor cat, finds his own way out.

"He sneaks through the porch and pushes the door open with his head and he comes out," she said, describing one incident shortly after his August surgery. "We find him outside and he's bald and he had his stitches and his two legs and I'm like, 'You can't just go out in the front yard like that, honey. If anybody sees you they'll be reporting us.'"

Despite his handicap, Shamus is still an active, happy cat. He even caught a chipmunk recently. Holly said she looked into wheelchairs that are designed for animal amputees, but she didn't think Shamus would like the confinement.

"He was more aggravated having that tumor on him than he is with the two legs," she said. "Nothing ever gets him down."

09-23-2004, 10:01 PM
Goodness! Animals are amazing!

09-24-2004, 10:02 AM
That truly is one Amazing Cat! And if someone,can PM,me his address,I will send an AWA Cat Toy,to that Brave Cat!

09-24-2004, 12:04 PM
I'd be interested in seeing a video of how he gets around. They said it was a wobbled hop... Amazing little guy!