BREA, Calif. (November, 2017) – Four years ago, Bianca Sonnino, of Miami Beach, Florida adopted a calm, grey kitten named Zoe. Bianca and Zoe have been inseparable ever since and created countless lifelong memories. However, one recent memory would rather be forgotten when the Maine coon kitten fell off a five-story balcony on Bianca’s birthday which landed Zoe in the emergency veterinary hospital. Zoe's balcony escapade has earned her the title of the November “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance
Bianca first met Zoe while living in Italy when Zoe was just 4-months-old. Upon meeting Zoe, Bianca could tell she was a perfect mix of kind and beautiful, and knew she needed to be part of the family. The duo lived in Italy for a couple of years before starting a new chapter in their lives and relocating to Florida in support of Bianca’s fiancé’s career.
They made the 11-hour flight to Miami with no complications other than a troubled leg for Zoe. Prior to their big move, Zoe had knee surgery that left the Maine Coon with a limp.
Zoe adapted well to her new environment and continued to live a normal life, spending lots of time in the family’s fifth floor condo while occasionally enjoying play time on their new balcony. With Zoe’s troubled leg, Bianca made sure to always keep an eye on Zoe while playing outside.
The day of the plummet is a day that Bianca will forever remember as the birthday “cat-astrophe.” After having a peaceful day at home, Bianca let Zoe onto the patio for fresh air. Zoe was a frequent visitor of the balcony, so being outside was nothing out of the ordinary. Bianca sat on the sofa and watched with a close eye to make sure she was in plain sight and not in any danger.
“Zoe had been outside already for a few minutes. When I looked over to the patio I saw her and everything looked fine,” said Bianca. “The next time I looked over, there was no sign of Zoe. I immediately ran outside to look around for her and that’s when I could hear her meowing from the garden outside of our balcony. I was in such disbelief.”
Bianca quickly hurried downstairs to fetch Zoe and rushed her to see a veterinarian. Externally, Zoe looked fine but Bianca knew that with such a high fall, she could have internal injuries.
Being late on a Friday night, Bianca rushed Zoe to Knowles Central 24 Hour Animal Clinic of Miami, Florida, where they swiftly stabilized Zoe’s critical condition, identified her injuries and managed her pain. After multiple radiographs, it was revealed that Zoe suffered from much more than meets the eye. The frazzled cat had three fractured ribs, pulmonary contusions and multiple luxations.
“The fall happened on Friday night and by Monday there were more unidentified injuries that complicated her treatment plans,” said Bianca. “She was in a very fragile state and the veterinarians were not sure if she could handle surgery at the time. I decided I did not want to put her in anymore pain, so we would wait it out and see how she does.”
Zoe stayed in the hospital for several days until she was finally able to regain her strength to undergo surgery. Bianca remembers the phone call from the veterinarian giving her the unexpected news that somehow, her brave cat was magically alive and ready for surgery.
“Zoe is a very lucky cat,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary officer for Nationwide. “Cats during a fall instinctively twist and attempt to re-position to land on their feet, but clearly five floors is extraordinary. Thanks to Zoe’s quick thinking pet-parents, they took her to an emergency veterinary hospital right away where they were able to administer pain medication and assess the extent of her trauma.”
With multiple injuries to treat, the veterinarians decided to first address Zoe’s elbow luxation, followed by other separate reconstruction surgeries. After eventually being discharged from the hospital, Zoe continued treatment with multiple follow up visits, as well as a visit to a veterinary cardiologist to evaluate a newly diagnosed heart murmur.
Zoe is now doing incredibly well after her near death fall. She is still being treated for injuries sustained from her life-threatening accident and her condition continues to improve each day. Bianca is incredibly appreciative of all the great care Zoe received from the amazing veterinary staff. Being from Italy and not familiar with American veterinary practices, Bianca is very thankful that the staff took the time to explain everything to her.
“They were able to make the right choice in the right moment,” said Bianca. “Nationwide reimbursed me for my veterinary expenses very quickly. I recommend for pet owners to invest in pet insurance. Veterinary costs are very expensive, and when it comes to your pet you should not have to worry about cost to save their life.”
As the most unusual claim submitted in November, Zoe will be in the running for the 2018 Hambone Award. Zoe’s incident was one of more than 110,000 pet insurance claims received in the month of November by Nationwide, and was selected by Nationwide employees as the most unusual of them all. Honorable mentions in November include a German shorthaired pointer who thrashed into a pillar running around in a tennis court, a Domestic Shorthair who swallowed a sharp pointy nail, and an English springer spaniel sat on a fire ant pile.
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The Hambone Award is named in honor of a Nationwide-insured dog who got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire holiday ham while waiting for someone to rescue him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia. This quirky title was first awarded in 2009 to Lulu, a hungry English bulldog who swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and a piece of a basketball. The Hambone Award and these unusual pet insurance claims have since helped educate the public about the unexpected mishaps that can affect household pets. Stories and pictures of the Hambone Award nominees are available at HamboneAward.com.
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