When Indiana news outlets picked up a story titled First Time Procedure at Purdue Small Animal Hospital Saves Cat, we were excited to hear that feline hip replacement was growing in popularity with veterinarians and pet parents. Then we did a little research and found out the family interviewed was part of OUR family! Pet parents Tyler and Faith had enrolled Fridgey in Healthy Paws in 2017. Here’s the story of their cat’s hip replacement, a procedure our dedicated customer care team files claims for regularly.
“Fridgey came into our lives after his cousin (my previous Bengal, a girl named Olive; Noodles and Fridgey’s mother was the sister of Olive’s mother) passed away due to complications from a blood clot cause by a genetic condition she had called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM),” begins Tyler. “After I lost her, my wife and I were feeling a void in our lives so we started looking into getting another cat.” The duo decided they’d get two kitties, as “Olive was such a handful always wanting our attention. We figured getting siblings would keep them more entertained.” They returned to the breeder who had Olive, and named them Fridgey and Noodles.
The Story Behind Fridgey’s Name
We had to know immediately why Fridgey was called “Fridgey.” Tyler explains: “Before we even got them, I knew I wanted to name one of them ‘Refrigerator.’ When we got the kittens home, Fridgey kept running into everything head first like William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry, the famous Chicago Bear, so we knew immediately he would be called William ‘The Refrigerator’ Kitty. We call him Fridgey or Fridge for short!”
They describe Fridgey as a “typical Bengal” when it comes to his personality. “He loves to run around and jump onto things. He plays fetch and loves to talk to us all day long. We can have complete conversations with him as he meows back to whatever we say to him!” Fridgey’s favorite things are water (he loves playing with ice cubes in his water bowl and even tries to get in the shower), walks on his leash, and he loves a good cuddle. “He always sleeps in bed with us curled against or on top of me or my wife,” says Tyler. “Whenever we get home he immediately gets up and runs to us meowing along the way and then flops over on his back so that we can rub his belly. He’s such a good boy. We love him so much.”
Fridgey’s Fractured Hip
“When he fractured his first hip, we have no idea what happened. He came down the stairs to the basement and then laid down and would not get up,” says Tyler. “When we tried to get him to walk, he would let out a painful meow and then lay back down. He was obviously in a lot of pain so we immediately took him to the emergency vet.” The vet ran tests, took some x-rays, and explained that the hip was most likely fractured and to take him to his regular vet the next day. “They sent us home with some pain killers, and when we got to our normal vet the next morning, she looked at the scans, gave us a couple options, but basically recommended surgery. We just had to decide where to take him.”
Tyler and his family had attended Purdue University, and that’s where he’d taken his previous Bengal, Olive, for all her care. “I knew how wonderful the animal hospital there was from that experience, so I had my vet call down to them to make an appointment.”
They waited three days for an opening; “It was difficult for us to watch him for those three days being obviously uncomfortable, but at least the pain medicine kept him subdued,” says Tyler. Fridgey underwent surgery and had a remarkably quick recovery, but not without a little stress: “There were about three weeks where we kept him away from his sister in another room in a kennel and one of us would always be in there with him.” After those first three weeks, they were joined together again.
“With the procedure he had (femoral head ostectomy or FHO), it is important that the hip gets used a lot so a false joint is created in place of the femoral head, so we made sure to have him walk around as well as taking him back down to Purdue for physical therapy. Since he likes water, they would put him in the water treadmill down there.” Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be long after completely healing from this first ordeal that Fridgey would have a hip issue again.
Fridgey’s Hip Replacement
“For the second hip, he was now pretty much healed from the first incident and was moving around very well,” explains Tyler. “He was running and jumping with no problem. One evening about seven months after the initial surgery was performed, he attempted to jump onto a table. He did not quite make it and came down on a box, landing funny. He had a limp after landing but did not seem to be in a ton of pain.”
After a few days of “wait and see,” Fridgey’s condition did not seem to improve. “He did not want to walk on it if he could avoid it, and at first, we thought maybe he pulled a muscle or something. He would let me extend the leg without any problem so we thought it might just get better on its own.” They ended up bringing him back to the vet, which lead to x-rays and the discovery that he had, in fact, fractured his other hip.
“We again needed to take him down to the Purdue Small Animal Teaching Hospital. This is when they gave us the option of doing the total hip replacement,” says Tyler. “Since he already had the FHO on his other hip, they said he would have a better quality of life with better mobility if we had his hip replaced instead of having another FHO performed.” The entire hip replacement would be much costlier, however they agreed to it and the surgery went well.
“His hip needed to heal in order for the implant to be strong and stable, which meant that he would need to be kennel bound for three months.” This was a very difficult task for Tyler and his wife: “We slept in separate rooms during his recovery so that one of us could stay with Fridge and the other could get a good night’s sleep (while taking care of his sister, Noodles).” Fridgey needed a companion so he wouldn’t panic, or get “too riled up and hurt himself; he is a Bengal after all.”
Months have since passed, along with Fridgey having a lot of therapy, and he’s now been given the greenlight from the vet to resume normal activities. “We are slowly giving him access to more areas of the house as the weeks go by and have reintroduced him to his sister. They had not seen each other for months and are now so happy to be back together (and to be back with both of us). His recovery is going great. He is a very happy boy!”
“Going through this experience has been very tough on me and my wife,” says Tyler. “We treat our pets like they are members of the family. We love them like they are our own children. Having to see Fridgey go through so much pain has been difficult.” Tyler mentions what so many pet parents can relate to: “He does not understand what is going on and cannot let us know what he needs, so we have to pay very close attention. We have needed to help him go to the bathroom for a couple weeks after the surgeries and we’ve even had to clean up after for him. This is a very difficult thing to do for a cat!”
Tyler mentions that their vets have all been wonderful; thoroughly explaining each procedure and recovery methods. “It is nerve racking having your little buddy get sedated and have surgery performed on him, but they have made sure we were as comfortable as we could be throughout the whole process.”
That process ended up billing Tyler at $4,609 and Healthy Paws reimbursed him $3,898 (90% reimbursement rate and $250 deductible). “When we got these two new kittens, I never thought twice about it. We were definitely getting pet insurance,” he says. “We always want to make sure that we can give our animals the best care, and we never want them to have to suffer because we just can’t afford to give them the care they need. Pet insurance allows us to go into every vet visit with confidence knowing that we will be able to do what is best for our animals and not just the best that we can afford.”
The claim scenarios described here are intended to show the types of situations that may result in claims. These scenarios should not be compared to any other claim. Whether or to what extent a particular loss is covered depends on the facts and circumstances of the loss, the terms and conditions of the policy as issued and applicable law.
Insured people providing testimonials in this report have not received compensation for their statements.
If you are a Healthy Paws pet parent with a recovery story to tell, we’d love to hear it! Send your pet’s story along with photos of your four-legged family member to firstname.lastname@example.org