A cat found pinned on the chassis of an 18-wheeler is so fat that the staff of the Charleston Animal Society thinks she must have an owner and hope for a reunion.
On Wednesday, chassis mechanic Anthony Delocco was performing a routine inspection in the CSX transfer yard in North Charleston when he found the cat trapped. It was severely injured, appeared dehydrated and very scared.
Despite that, Delocco said the cat was fully cooperative when he was freeing it. Afterward, he called animal control, which took the cat to the animal society on Thursday.
Dr. Sarah Boyd, director of shelter health and wellness, said when the cat arrived, she was in bad shape.
"Her right front leg was completed mangled. From the outside, it appeared limp, but (scans) showed the tissue was obliterated," said Boyd, noting that the animal society put her on morphine derivative painkiller, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.
Because of the condition of the leg, Boyd said animal society veterinarian Dr. Lucy Fuller amputated the leg on Friday and put her in the 24-hour care of the emergency animal hospital over the weekend.
In all, Boyd said the cost to treat the cat was estimated to be between $2,000 and $3,000.
She adds that the cat was so plump, weighing in at 14 pounds (about five to six pounds heavier than normal), that the staff suspects someone is missing her.
"This cat was fat and happy before this happened to her," said Boyd. "This big girl is used to sitting on someone's couch."
Other indications the cat had an owner was that it was spayed and "probably middle-aged," or about four to five years old.
If the owner steps forward, though, Boyd said the animal society will not require him or her to repay the medical expenses. However, the animal society would welcome any donations toward the cat's expenses.
Animal society CEO Joe Elmore says the cat is receiving the best care available from the society's medical staff.
"But she's not out of the woods yet. The cost of her medical care could reach several thousand dollars and she is only one of thousands of injured or seriously ill animals brought to us each year, most of whom were rescued by Good Samaritans."
Reach David Quick at 937-5516.