His nose didn't feel right. It was much too dry. I knew something wasn't right there but I thought it best to observe him to see what was happening rather than poke and prod. I knew he'd been through trauma and he'd need time to recover.
A couple days later it became evident what was going on with his nose. The skin was dry feeling becuase it was dead. This dry skin began to peel away, leaving his wet and shiny black nose underneath. I recognized the symptom - it was frost bite on his nose.
Then after having a long nap all afternoon and cleaning himself he got up to leave and I noticed this stamp sized patch of skin sitting on the cat bed. It ws the top layer of his skin, covered in fur. It was dried and I could tell he'd peeled it off himself.... but from where?
I searched his body all over looking, looking, feeling him everywhere. He tolerated this, but I could find no stamp sized bald patch anywhere on his body. (Sorry I know this is kind of gross). So I left him alone. But my mind kept turning it over and over. There HAD to be a stamp sized patch of him that was bare of fur and flesh.
Then I realized there was one spot I had not checked, underneath his legs - his hocks... the part of the leg from behind the paw to the elbow. Sure enough, that whole length of his legs on both sides was very pink and red - freshly healed over with no infection, but all the outer skin and fur was completely gone.
I was thinking what was this? What would make the outer layer of his skin come off? A friction burn? Frostbite? I may never know, but at least the wounds were healing very nicely on their own.
I am left wondering if maybe wherever he got himself shut inside that he could not move well enough to keep himself warm - maybe he had to sit the whole time so his hocks were always on the ground. That may account for the frostbite on the nose - becuase he was unable to tuck his face into his own fur like when a cat curls up to sleep. It's all guesswork. I wish I had CSI around, they'd figure this out in only one episode!
All things considered, I'm now a firm believer that Tom is a miracle cat. He's eating more each day and gaining weight. He's also sleeping more restfully and not jerking awake every few seconds like he did when he first came home.
Thanks so much for all your prayers. They were certainly answered!!!