My wife and I do a lot of cat rescue work (though it's mostly trap/spay/neuter/release) - and,having read Korben's story, thought I'd share something similar...
We got a call from someone who got our number through the grapevine that an elderly woman had passed on and her family was unwilling to take on her 2 cats. Unfortunately, by the time we got the call, both cats had been unceremoniously excommunicated from their house of many years (cats don't understand this, and - after having been raised inside with food dishes - do not necessarily know how to forage outside). To make matters worse, one of the cats had gotten into a tussle with a local dog and, per their description was "hurt real bad".
By the time we got there, they had the cat's leg bandaged up, though the blood seeping through made it pretty clear it was a serious case of being bitten/mauled. Luckily, through our volunteer work, we have connections with some vets who do work either pro-bono or very cheap. Unfortunately, it means that the cats don't always get the best treatment. Long story, short - while I'm thankful we had a vet willing to work with us, they didn't quite give the patent the attention he should have gotten and infection set in. Within 48 hours it became clear that the only option was amputation.
At the time, we'd seen a lot of weird and wacky things with cats - blind, deaf, old, etc. - butnever an amputee. Once the procedure was done and the cat was retrievable I went to pick him up. I totally broke down when I saw him without a back leg. I really felt like we let him down (maybe if we coughed up the cash instead of the pro-bono route? what if we took him to another vet? what if....?) and he was fscked for life. The vet walked me through the basics of what it was going to be like with a 3-legged cat with the main point being - unbelievably - "he'll get used to it, he'll be fine!" which seemed impossible when I'm looking at a 3 legged cat.
I brought him home and when I got him to our extra bedroom/makeshift infirmary, I opened the carrier and he bounded out. I mean, he pogo sticked across the floor, slid on his stump, and then bolted right back at me, jumped on the bed and laid down with just a pleased-as-punch look on his face. I was stunned. He was far less worried about it than I was!! In fact, I suspect, he's still not quite sure to this day what's wrong or if there even is anything wrong (well, he probably suspects something when he goes to scratch using his "stump" and the side of his head is still itching...I lend a hand everytime I see him do it)
Like most of our "patients" or fosters, we planned on getting him adopted out, but I christened him "Max" (???) and, well, he's been here ever since.
Not all of our emergency situations turned out like this, but - like most things - it's feels so much worse when you're in the middle of it.