A young tuxedo tom called Mochi used up one of his nine lives when he survived a serious dog attack last year. Catster caught up with Nancy, Mochi’s human, to get the full scoop on things.
Tell us about Mochi. How did he come into your life?
NANCY: When we first found Mochi, he was a stray kitten at an abandoned gas station/feral colony, and one of his eyes was clouded and his face was singed, as if he had been burnt. Temperatures at the time were below freezing, so I decided to get him medical attention and then see if we could find a home for him. The vet said he was about 15-16 weeks old and was a bit underweight, but otherwise fine. He was given a few shots, was wormed and tested negative for FIV and leukemia. We also scheduled his neuter appointment.
During all this time, I was asking around and posting on my social media [to see] if anyone would like to adopt this friendly kitten, but no luck. And I’m glad now, because I probably wouldn’t have let him go! My pitbull Zeauxoui became like his surrogate mom/sister — they sleep together, they eat and drink together. He became part of our family.
In August 2016, Mochi was the victim of a dog attack. Tell us what happened?
NANCY: My parents were out of town to visit my brother for the weekend. Since their dog loved to play with my dog, they asked if we could watch him. We agreed and had planned to keep Mochi safe in our bedroom where he had access to the bathroom and his food and toys.
Late that night, I took the dogs out for a walk before going to bed, and then told them to go into their dog crate, which they did. My boyfriend Ben came home a bit later, and Zeauxoui came out and greeted Ben, while the other dog bulleted out of the crate and headed at full speed toward our bedroom, his head breaking the lock. We ran after him, and Ben tried to jump and cover Mochi, while I jumped on top of the dog, but he had a hold of Mochi already. I tried to pry his mouth open, elbow his head, whatever I could do to open his jaws, and finally I did. All I saw was Mochi’s bloody face, but I didn’t let go of the dog. I held on close to his neck and body like a bear hug, and that is where I got most of my injuries from the dog attack.
We rushed Mochi to the emergency vet, where they stabilized him. The next day, he was transferred to UPennVet in Philadelphia where they did a CT scan of his skull that showed the extent of the damage. We thought he had lost his jaw entirely, but he still had his bottom jaw and canines. He was very lucky!
The surgeon told us that treatment might be more costly than anticipated, but we said, “Just do whatever you need to do for him.” She also said that Mochi would have to be fed through a tube in his neck, as well as have his medication administered that way.
We were told that he would be fine, but he had a high fever that kept him in the hospital longer than he should have been. Two days later he was home, but he didn’t look well and was very lethargic, so we took him back to UPenn. There was pus in his mouth so they took cultures, which came back as a form of MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). He was kept in the hospital for monitoring and assessment for three nights until his temperature had lowered and he looked more perky. I am allergic to the antibiotic that he was given, so being near Mochi while on those meds made my skin itch and burn and break out in hives.
So you fought off the dog attack to protect Mochi?
NANCY: Yes. I jumped on the dog, and I got bitten, kicked and scratched. I still have a bone chip floating in my hand from where he bit me. The scars on my face have healed, but the ones on my body have left deep and dark marks.
What about the three buttons that Mochi had on his face after the dog attack? What were they for?
NANCY: The buttons on Mochi’s face were attached to the suture line, so they cut right through his flesh. The two side buttons were where they start and where they end — a continuous line was sewn. The button under his chin was the most important. The surgeon cut a hole in his neck and inserted an esophageal tube for meds, fluids and food. He was also fitted with a special collar to hold the tube so it wouldn’t snag or tug. It’s the navy blue thing with tiny white polka dots around his neck.
If we saw him vomiting we would need to pull the bottom button down and cut the suture line attached to it, and it should release the whole jaw and he could vomit; otherwise he would have choked to death. If that had happened, we would have had to to rush him back to the hospital for assessment and to see if the wire in his jaw had moved.
We had weekly follow-ups with the surgeon, and had to adjust our work schedules so that Mochi would rarely be left alone for more than an hour. We slept where he slept. If he was in the bathroom, we would sleep in there too.
His mouth was sewn shut after the dog attack. Was this, and the buttons, permanent or just until his injuries healed?
NANCY: Just until he healed. He had to go in for another procedure to remove the buttons and sutures and then remove the wire they had inserted to hold his jaw together. When he came home that night, I blended cat food paté with warm water, and he just licked it up! But his esophageal tube was still needed for medication and fluids. Eventually the tube was removed and the hole sealed up within 24 hours.
Has Mochi now made a full recovery after the dog attack?
NANCY: Pretty much. He has shown great progress, and at his last vet visit he was able to open his jaw wide. But he has lost a salivary gland and four or five small front teeth. Recently his gums and teeth where the jaw had broken off showed gingivitis and tooth resorption, but we are monitoring him.
Mochi is famous for going to the bathroom like a human (but he doesn’t flush!). Does he still do that after the dog attack?
NANCY: Yes! Due to migraines that were triggered by his urine in the litter box, I decided to try to train him to use the human toilet, and only four weeks later he was a toilet pro! He fell in a few times since he was so small, but now he’s big and perches “purrfectly” on the seat. He doesn’t have any “accidents,” and doesn’t leave a single drop on the seat. The only thing he does not do is flush!
We have taken him on many trips and he has used hotel toilets, and Ben has taken him to work with him and he has used the work toilet too! Even the night we rushed him to emergency room the doctor noted that he would not use the litter box. We told her that he uses the (human) toilet, and she said that she will just let him go on the blankies. He was so weak and in pain, we couldn’t believe he didn’t have any “accidents”!
See more on how Mochi uses the toilet on Instagram.com/mochi_dont_give_a_flush >>
How has this dog attack and the injuries changed Mochi? Does he play and act like before?
NANCY: He’s a bit wary of loud noises now, and at first he was scared of his canine sister Zeauxoui. However, after a few days he realized who she was, and now they play together just like before. They nap together almost every day and Mochi licks her face clean.
Of course, my parents’ dog is never allowed in my house again. I was so angry that night, but Ben calmed me down. We dropped the dog off at my parents’ house that night and they came back early in the morning from their trip. He actually got into some trouble a few months ago, and now is back with his original owners who raised him…
You can follow Mochi’s shenanigans and toilet humor on Instagram.com/mochi_dont_give_a_flush
Has your cat ever been the victim of a dog attack? Tell us in the comments.
About the Author: Barbarella Buchner — Ailurophile. Geeky Goth Girl. Ex-Musician Singer/Songwriter. Photographer. Web Designer. Fibromyalgia + RA Sufferer. And totally mad. She originally hails from Hannover (Germany), then moved to London, and since 2004 has lived on the tropical island of Lanzarote, together with her tabby twins, Lugosi & Spider, and ginger queen Ruby Akasha. She is a photographer, and works as a freelance web and graphic designer and occasional Catster/Dogster contributor.