AUBURN — A cat caught in a hunting trap for several days and captured by an animal control officer had an injured front paw amputated Tuesday.
Animal Control Officer Wendell Strout received a call about a cat with its leg caught in a metal leg-hold trap near Marden's last Thursday, he said. Since Strout was in Boston that day, he called a backup officer, who was not able to catch the injured animal, he said.
Strout was able to capture the cat in front of Marden's on Monday afternoon and brought it to the Auburn Animal Center on Center Street, where veterinarian Stephen Kinney began treating the cat's wounds.
“He wasn't happy with me grabbing him, but he was in extreme pain,” Strout said. “That would make a normally friendly animal not very friendly.”
“It's a unique situation,” Kinney said Tuesday. When the cat arrived at his clinic, he said, the wound was infected, infested with maggots, and gave off the stench of gangrene.
The hunting trap, which Strout said was about the size of a saucer plate, was a “typical trap that you would use for fox, raccoons — it's a leg-hold trap.”
The trap had snapped down on the cat's front right paw, crushing the bones and opened a wound so deep that the bones and muscles were clearly visible. Kinney had to use all of his weight to force the metal jaws of the trap apart enough to free the animal, he said.
The injury was grave enough that although the cat was social with people and eating and drinking by Tuesday morning, amputating the limb was the only reasonable course of action, Kinney said. “After a number of hours ... the blood flow is cut off, and even if the bones aren't crunched, usually (the leg) can't be saved,” he said.
Although the wound is close to the cat's paw, Kinney said he will have to remove the entire limb. Otherwise, it would try to walk on the amputated stump, he said. Fortunately, Kinney said, cats tend to do well with just three legs.
Kinney, already amazed at the cat's resilience despite the ordeal, expects the cat to recover from surgery quickly. Once it has recuperated, the cat will be up for adoption from the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society's shelter at 55 Strawberry Ave. in Lewiston.
As the cat pressed its head into Kinney's hand a few hours before the surgery was scheduled to take place, the vet remarked at how it obviously likes people. Earlier in the day, it “was hissing a little — he's in pain and he doesn't know who we are — but he seems like a real nice cat,” Kinney said.
The trap that caught the unfortunate cat likely should not have been placed, Kinney said. It is not currently trapping season for any animal in Maine, and state trapping rules say that within a half mile of the built-up section of any city or town, only cage-style live traps are allowed.