Warning: Gross pictures at the bottom
When you go outside to start your car, bang on the hood, honk the horn, and check around to see where the cat is. You might check under the hood.
Every year, kittens are born in the spring and summer. Whether wet or dry, the weather is hot. Then one day in the early fall, it suddenly turns off cool and rainy.
You're a little kitten, and you are used to things being nice and warm. Now you're wet and cold. You're looking for a nice, warm, dry place. Hey! It's dry under the car. In fact, you can climb up under the hood and it's really warm, too. It's cozy, and warm and dry (if a bit greasy), and you drift off to sleep.
The next morning (cue the sunrise theme from the William Tell Overture), it's time for the folks to go to work. So, they start up the old Buick, and it makes a really loud, really horrible noise. Actually, the car doesn't make the noise. The cat who just got grabbed by the fan-belt makes the noise.
Open the hood, and you might find a really scared kitten who's basically okay except for a serious bad hair day… or you might find pieces of dead kitten… OR you might find a cat that's pretty messed up, but salvageable. "Paging Doctor Mobley!"
This usually happens just a little later in the year, the end of September or early October. Of course, if you're a global warming devotee, then you know that anything can happen — too wet, too dry, too warm, too cold, oobleck — it's global warming.
Be that as it may, the first fan-belt kitty of the year came on September fourteenth this year: a little early. What global warming does NOT explain (at least, I don't think it does, but then, I'm not a high level initiate in the sacred order) — what global warming does NOT explain is why a five-years old cat has fallen for the old "It's warm and dry in here, kitty. Try it, you'll like it." Naive little kittens, sure, but a five-years old cat?
Alley was able to walk around, but her tail had been peeled like a banana (actually a "de-gloving", they call it), and her right flank looked like it had been sliced open. My first thought was that the belt had pulled her into the fan. Closer examination revealed that the flank had been chewed open by the friction of being caught in the belt itself.
The wound edges were hard, dry, and black. They had been cooked by the friction of the belt. All that open area is sub-cutaneous fat. They say you can't be too rich or too thin, but being well-padded was a good thing for Alley. She was cut through her 3/4 inch fat layer, all the way down to the muscle in some places. If she'd been skinny, she would have been laid open and her innards would have been outside of her inside.
After 45 minutes of scraping, flushing, and plucking, we were down to mostly live tissue, though the skin edges on the front side were questionable. The thing is, it's really hard to tell what's going to live or die with some of this. Even if some of the skin dies and sloughs off later, it's still a better bandage material than anything else I could use right now. Of course, even after all the cleaning, the wound is still grossly contaminated. Drain tubes are incorporated into the repair so that yucky stuff can get out. She'll need antibiotics, pain medication, and lots of good nursing care.
Here we have the phase one finished product, which is the broken pieces re-assembled into a reasonable facsimile of a cat. More tissue will probably die, more surgery may be required, may have to treat some of it as an open wound. Fortunately, cats have terrific healing powers (for their own bodies, I mean; don't rub a cat on your sore place), and I'm optimistic that Alley will eventually enjoy life again. She'll have a short tail, but I hope for a long life.