Patches nearly died after coming into contact with lillies

Patches nearly died after coming into contact with lillies

One week, Patches was a normal, healthy, young adult cat. Nobody could have guessed that within a few days, she’d be in intensive care, fighting for her life. And if somebody had pointed to the beautiful Oriental Lilies on the table in Bronagh’s living room, very few people would have realised that the flowers were harbouring a toxin that’s commonly fatal to cats. Bronagh first realised that there was something wrong when Patches suddenly started to drink much more water than usual. She finished the water bowl indoors, then drank all the water in a bowl outside, and then started lapping from a puddle. Bronagh put some more water out for her, and Patches sat with her head over the bowl, staring at the water. She was also dull and depressed and she refused to eat her normal dinner. Bronagh brought her in to my clinic and a blood profile was run in the clinic laboratory. The findings were dramatic: Patches had kidney failure: she had sky-high levels of the toxic by-products that are meant to be filtered out of the blood by the kidneys. If her kidneys could not be successfully treated, her life was at risk. Kidney failure can happen spontaneously, but there’s often an underlying cause. In a young, previously healthy cat, there are some common household substances that can cause kidney damage if ingested. Anti-freeze is perhaps the best known example: it has a taste that pets find attractive, and just a few laps of the substance can be enough to cause serious kidney damage. I questioned Bronagh about any possible exposure to poisons, and...
Ginger the cat was suffering from toothache

Ginger the cat was suffering from toothache

Ginger lives the life of a typical modern Irish cat. He lives in a suburban house, and is fed on tinned food, supplemented by his own hunting expeditions. He has free access to the outdoors and enjoys going out and about. He’s sometimes gone for most of the day, and when he comes home, he’s prone to bringing back mice and, less commonly, small birds. Robert first noticed Ginger behaving strangely at meal times a couple of weeks ago. The cat normally has an excellent appetite; whenever food is put out in his bowl, he rushes towards it, lapping it up hungrily.  Now he paused as he approached his dinner. He’d stop, looking at the food bowl suspiciously, then move forward towards it hesitantly. He’d then take a few mouthfuls slowly, chewing cautiously. After a few moments, he’d shake his head violently from side to side, turn around, and bolt out of the room as if he was being chased by a dog. He’d then leave his food for a few hours, before coming back again. This strange behaviour meant that it was taking him all day to eat food that he’d normally scoff in five minutes. There was obviously something bothering him, which is why Robert brought him to see me. Ginger’s behaviour was typical of a cat with dental pain, and I expected to find an obvious abnormality when I opened his mouth to have an initial look. I was surprised to find that, in fact, his mouth seemed healthy: there were no broken teeth, and no evidence of periodontal disease or gingivitis. The second stage of...
Tabitha the young Tonkinese cat was poisoned

Tabitha the young Tonkinese cat was poisoned

Tabitha and her brother Calvin are young Tonkinese cats who are pets for young Maia. She has had them since they were kittens. Maia holds the cats gently, hugging them like many children hug soft toys. They enjoy her attention, coming up to her and asking to be picked up. She chatters away to them, and they reply to her in the screechy Siamese-type of miaow. Maia’s parents are always close by, making sure that she isn’t accidentally rough with the cats, but they’ve never had to intervene. Like most Irish cats, Tabitha and Calvin have the freedom to come and go as they please between the house and the garden. Sometimes a window’s left open for them, and other times they sit at the back door, waiting to be allowed in or out. They often go out overnight, and Maia finds them at the back door in the morning, asking to be let in for some breakfast. One morning, Tabitha was outside as usual, waiting to be let in, but it was obvious that there was something wrong with her. She trembled all over, she was moving slowly and stiffly, and she looked badly shaken, as if she’d had a nasty fright. When she came into the kitchen, she just sat still in the corner. She didn’t want to play with Maia, she didn’t want any food, and she was unusually quiet. Normally Tabitha miaows loudly, but on this occasion, she was completely silent. At first everyone thought that she’d been in a fight, perhaps picked on by a neighbourhood bully cat, but she had no scratches or bite-marks. She...
Max the cat suffered a dislocation to his right hip

Max the cat suffered a dislocation to his right hip

Diana has two cats, both obtained at the same time from the DSPCA. Sophie was a young mother cat, aged just a year old, and Max was her kitten. When Diana saw them together at the sanctuary, she felt that she couldn’t separate them, and so she brought them both home. It was obvious from the start that the two cats had completely different personalities. Sophie soon became an indoor cat, only going outside for an hour every day. She loves the quiet life, sleeping on the most comfortable couch in the warmth of the sitting room. When she goes outside, she finds the sunniest spot in the garden, enjoying a little sunshine before returning indoors. She’s very happy with a calm, settled life. Max is the complete opposite of his mother. He heads off every morning at 6.30am, as soon as the humans in the house are stirring. If the weather is wet and windy, he’s waiting on the back doorstep for Diana when she gets back from work at 2pm. If the weather’s fine, he stays out till 6pm, when he returns for his supper. Max’s adventurous nature has got him into trouble before: two years ago he fractured his lower back after being hit by a car. He made a full recovery, and it hasn’t slowed him down at all. Max’s routine has become very predictable, so Diana knew at once that there was something wrong when she came back from work one afternoon last week. It was a fine day, so Max should have been out and about. Instead, he was lying quietly on a...
Tumbles was tumbled in a tumble dryer

Tumbles was tumbled in a tumble dryer

Trish works as a care assistant in a busy south County Dublin nursing home. During a cold spell, one of her colleagues was doing the daily early morning laundry routine. The first load of clothes had been washed and spun, and were transferred to the industrial-sized tumble drier for the first drying session of the day. As soon as the machine was turned on, it was obvious that there was something wrong. A loud banging noise could be heard, so the tumble drier was switched off at once. The clothes were checked first, but there was nothing amiss in there.  The back and underside of the machine was then inspected, and something was seen moving in the darkness. The first suspicion was that a rat had crawled into the space beneath the tumble drier, but in better light, a cat could clearly be seen. She’d been badly injured, and she was lying in a pool of blood. The poor animal was terrified, but she didn’t resist as she was gently lifted out of the works of the machine. Her left front leg had been mangled by the moving parts of the tumble drier, and she was bleeding badly. She was wrapped in a towel and brought immediately to our veterinary clinic for emergency treatment. It turned out that she was a feral cat who had never been in close contact with humans before. She must have been lurking in the yard outside the back. On that icy cold night, she had found a five-inch-diameter vent on the outside wall of the nursing home. It was about two feet off...
Squeak went missing for over three weeks

Squeak went missing for over three weeks

Fiona shares her home her fiancé Adrian and their three cats: Mark and Orla, who’ve been with them for over two years, and one-year-old Squeak, who’s seen as the young upstart by the older two animals. The recent crisis started with some disagreements about night-time domestic arrangements. Each cat has its own established sleeping spot: Mark sleeps at the foot of Fiona and Adrian’s bed, Orla has a cubby hole in another bedroom, and Squeak is happy to sleep stretched out on the landing. The cats usually wait until the humans in the house are up and about before waking, but Squeak recently started to stir at 5am every morning. She repeatedly scratched on Fiona’s door until she woke to let Squeak go outside. After a few nights of broken sleep, Fiona decided to put Squeak into the outdoor cat kennel last thing at night: if she wanted to be up and about at dawn, she could do so without disturbing the rest of the house. The cat kennel has a cosy bed, with food and water nearby, and all of the cats sometimes choose to stay there overnight anyway. The next morning, when Fiona got up with the other cats, there was no sign of Squeak. Normally, if she slept outside, she’d be at the back door, looking for breakfast. At first Fiona thought she might just be busy elsewhere, but when there was no sign of her by the next day, she knew she’d gone missing. But what had happened? Had she had an accident of some kind? Was she lying sick somewhere? Or had she just...
Jasper suffered a broken bone in her foot

Jasper suffered a broken bone in her foot

Jasper is a home-loving cat.  She doesn’t like spending too much time in the cold world outside. Like many cats, she has an ability to seek out the warmest, coziest spots to sleep. Her favourite snoozing place is in a corner in the kitchen, where she has a soft cat bed, but later in the day, when everyone’s gone out to work and school, the kitchen cools down, and it becomes less appealing. Jasper has discovered that if she goes looking, she can find other comfortably heated spots to sleep. This tendency to seek out warmth can sometimes get cats into trouble. During the winter months, vets regularly have to deal with accidents that are caused by this heat-seeking habit. One of the warmest places to sleep – and one of the most dangerous – is underneath the bonnet of a car, curled up close to an engine that’s cooling down. Cats that live outside often discover that if they climb up under a car, they can wriggle into the engine compartment, where there’s usually a pleasantly warm flattened area to sleep. The problem is that cats often go into a deep sleep, only waking when the car owner is heading off to work in the morning. Suddenly the peaceful, warm sleeping area becomes a danger zone, with moving metal parts and no easy way out. Sadly, some cats don’t survive, and others are rushed to the vet, badly injured after the car driver has belatedly heard the yowls of a distraught cat coming from beneath their bonnet. Even around the home, there are cozy sleeping spots that can...
Jake the cat had kidney disease

Jake the cat had kidney disease

Jake  is a big animal, at around twice the weight of a typical moggie. He is not fat; he has a large frame, and he is very well-muscled. When he started to lose weight recently, it was a clear sign that there was something wrong with him. Jake has always disliked coming to the vet. He sits at the back of his carrier refusing to come out, and it’s usually necessary to turn it upside down to force him to emerge. He then crouches on the consulting table glaring angrily at the vet, hissing and spitting if anyone dares to touch him. Any handling needs to be done very carefully, because he is quick to lash out with his front claws. And when he is finally returned to his carrier at the end of the consultation, the cage door needs to be closed using an object like a pencil. Jake always likes to have the final word – letting out a loud “pah” noise, and lashing out with his claws at the hand that is closing the door. As he has grown older, Jake has needed to have his nails regularly clipped, and the only way that this has been possible has been with sedation. While he is sedated, I always take the opportunity to carry out any other minor procedures that may need done. I check his teeth, listen to his heart, and put him on the weighing scales. It was during one of these routine visits a few months ago that his weight loss was noticed. He had lost ten per cent of his weight, the equivalent...
Snowy suffered serious injuries after a nasty kick

Snowy suffered serious injuries after a nasty kick

When Geraldine’s two kittens, Sooty and Snowy, were young, she made sure that she signed them both up for pet insurance. Her previous cat, Domino, had died of kidney failure at the age of thirteen, and during his illness, Geraldine had learned that vets’ bills could be expensive. She decided that in future she’d pay out the small monthly amount for pet insurance, so that if there was an accident or illness, her new cats would be able to have the best possible veterinary care without putting a strain on the family budget. Snowy and Sooty grew up as the best of friends. They did everything together – from sleeping in the same basket to playing around the home to hunting in the garden. Geraldine has two palm trees at the front of the house, and the two cats used to play a game where each of them dashed up a tree as fast as possible. When Geraldine came home, she would find one cat sitting at the top of each tree, as if they were keeping a lookout for her. Snowy has had to stop climbing trees for the past few months: he’s recovering from a nasty accident affecting his left hind leg. It happened on a Sunday afternoon. Geraldine knows her cats very well – they are creatures of habit. When she noticed Sooty moping about the house alone, with no sign of Snowy, she knew that something must be amiss. She went looking for him, and it didn’t take long to find him. He was skulking beneath one of the cars in the driveway, and he...
Pasha the cat had dental disease

Pasha the cat had dental disease

Sheila visited Sharpes Hill Animal Sanctuary in County Wicklow shortly after reading a book about the First World War, featuring a soldier called Pasha. During her visit, she came across a particularly good-looking cat, who had been dumped and who had been rejected by every visitor so far. Sheila fell for him at once. She felt as if he had been through his own war, and so she christened him Pasha, after the soldier she had been reading about. He was two years old when she took him in. He settled in well with Sheila, and he soon had his own routine. Three years passed by, and soon it was as if Pasha had always been a part of her life. Last month, when Pasha didn’t come home one evening, Sheila knew that there was something odd going on. When there was no sign of him the next morning, she knew that something had gone wrong. She searched the locality, calling him, but there was no sign. She asked neighbours, but no-one had seen him. When a week had passed, Sheila was beginning to resign herself to his absence, and she presumed that he had either been killed in an accident, or he had simply decided to head off on his own. Then one evening, she heard a “miaow”, and there he was at the back door, hungrier than usual, but otherwise, behaving as if nothing had happened. As he sat in Sheila’s lap that evening, she realised that he had lost weight. It wasn’t a surprise, if he had been missing his meals for a full week. But...