Boots seemed to lose power in her hind legs

Boots seemed to lose power in her hind legs

One Saturday morning, Boots started to behave strangely. She had difficulty walking properly on her back legs, and when Maria went up to her, she rolled on her back in a peculiar way. She started to make strange noises, like a cross between purrs and miaows. She sounded more like a bird chirping than a cat. Something strange was going on and Maria called her sister because she was worried. Just over a year ago, the family’s elderly cat Tabs had also started to have difficulties walking. Sadly, she was diagnosed with a blood clot in the main artery to her pelvic area and in the end, she had to be euthanased. When Boots started to walk strangely with her hind legs too, Charlotte and Maria feared the worst: Boots was only 10 months of age, but could she have developed the same problem? When they brought her to see me, I asked a few questions. Boots is an indoor cat, so she never goes out and about, and never meets other cats. She has not yet been spayed. She was still eating hungrily, with no other signs of being unwell. Charlotte and Maria had noticed that she was licking herself under her tail more than normal, but they hadn’t seen anything else unusual other than her odd way of walking and her peculiar behaviour. When I examined Boots, she had a strong, healthy pulse in her back legs, and the legs were normal, with no weakness or paralysis. If a cat suffers a clot, the pulse is absent, and the hind legs are completely floppy. As I ran my...
Squirt the cat came home with a broken jaw

Squirt the cat came home with a broken jaw

Squirt featured on the Nine O’Clock News when he was just a kitten after he had been saved from drowning. A man had fished out a bag containing three kittens from the Dodder Canal. Two of them were dead, but the man carried out life-saving emergency treatment on the remaining one. The kitten was named Squirt because when his chest was massaged during the rescue, water squirted out of his mouth. Valerie was the lucky one from over a hundred people who offered him a home. She volunteers to raise funds for Cats Aid, the busy cat charity based in Dublin. For the past four years, Squirt has lived the contented life of a suburban Irish cat. When Valerie saw Squirt last Sunday afternoon, she knew at once that there was something wrong . He was crouching outside her house, under a car, and when she called him, he refused to come up to her as he would normally do. When she went closer to have a good look, she noticed that his lower jaw looked wrong . He was holding it oddly, and it seemed swollen. Squirt was not his normal, friendly self: he was nervous and seemed disorientated. Valerie didn’t know what was wrong  – she thought perhaps he had been poisoned. She took him in to the Pet Emergency Hospital at once. The emergency vet made the diagnosis: Squirt had a fractured lower jaw.  The left side of his lower jaw had separated from the right side, in the midline.  It was as if a blade had been placed vertically on his chin, and the bones...
Chip the cat developed a strange rash on her face

Chip the cat developed a strange rash on her face

Aoife has never known life without Chip. Six years before she was born, her parents adopted the young adult cat from the DSPCA. When Aoife was a baby, Chip used to sit nearby purring, and as she’s grown up, the friendly cat has always been her comfortable companion. Chip is now elderly, but she seems as fit and healthy as ever. A week ago, Aoife noticed that Chip looked different.  The fur was thinner around and above her eyes, and there were a few red bumps on her skin.  At first the family thought that she might have been stung by insects, or perhaps she’d walked through some nettles: maybe she’d recover after a few days. In fact, the condition deteriorated, with large bald areas appearing, and an acne-like scabby rash around both eyes. She didn’t seem to be upset by it at all: she wasn’t scratching herself or rubbing her head on anything, but it was obvious that there was something amiss, so they brought her to  see me. The diagnosis was obvious as soon as I saw Chip: the skin condition is called “miliary dermatitis”. The word “miliary” comes from “millet seeds”, because affected skin feels bumpy, as if someone has scattered millet seeds onto it. The second word – “dermatitis” – just means “inflammation of the skin”. Miliary dermatitis is common in cats, especially in the summer. The most common cause is an allergic reaction to something in the environment: cats’ skin tends to react to allergies by becoming reddened and scabby. There are many possible causes of this allergic type of reaction, including pollens, dusts...
Boomer the cat was unable to pass urine

Boomer the cat was unable to pass urine

When Lisa comes home in the evening, Boomer always rushes to greet her, purring. One day, when she came home to a silent house, Lisa went looking for him: was there something wrong with her cat? She found him upstairs, on a bed. He seemed agitated, licking himself under his tail and he wasn’t interested in saying “hello” to her. What was going on? Had he been involved in an accident of some kind? Lisa used to work as an inspector for animal welfare and currently she’s with a dog walking service, so she has a good understanding of animals: the first thing she did was to pick Boomer up,  have a few words with him, then put him on the ground, to see if he could walk. Boomer was able to walk normally, and there was no sign of any injuries, but there was definitely something amiss. He took a few steps, then he squatted into his typical “I am going to pee” crouching position, before stopping and licking himself under his tail again.  Lisa realised that this behaviour was completely abnormal, so she brought him down to the vets at once. When I lifted Boomer onto the consulting table, the first thing I did was to gently squeeze his tummy, feeling his abdominal contents.  I could feel an abnormal, large, hard object towards the back of his abdomen, like a small melon. It was Boomer’s bladder, and it was like a fully inflated balloon.  It was easy to make the diagnosis: the exit to Boomer’s bladder was blocked, and he was unable to pass urine. He knew...
Jasper the cat broke a bone in her foot

Jasper the cat broke a 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...
Edward the kitten had his eyeball removed

Edward the kitten had his eyeball removed

Michael and his family are animal lovers, sharing their home with a scattering of dogs and cats. The ginger kitten is the latest to join their menagerie. Michael’s 20 year old daughter saw the kitten with its mother at a friend’s house. She liked the look of him, and ended up bringing him home. She called him “Edward Cullen” after one of the heroes in the Twilight movie, but of course, his name was soon shortened to Edward, and as he has become part of the family, it looks like Eddie’s may soon be his day-to-day name. The kitten was bright and healthy at first, but a couple of weeks after his arrival, he developed a painful left eye. He started to keep the eye closed, and a yellow discharge dripped from the eye down his cheek. Edward was brought to the vets as soon as the family noticed that there was something wrong, and when I saw him, it was obvious that he had a serious problem affecting his left eye. Edward had a deep ulcer in the centre of his left eye: something had damaged the front of the eye, creating a crater-like dent in its surface. It could have been caused by trauma (such as a fight with another kitten) or it could have been a virus, but the result was the same: his eyeball was seriously injured. The eyeball is a complex structure, but it’s very resilient and it’s well-protected by the body. The boney eye socket is the most important part of the eye defences. If there’s any physical blow to the head, the eye...
Taz the cat developed a limp

Taz the cat developed a limp

Taz is an independent creature, choosing to live in his own cat house outside Hilary’s back door. It’s a cosy place, lined with newspaper, blankets and a comfortable cushion. He comes into Hilary’s home from time to time, but the cat house has always been his favourite sleeping place. Hilary recently noticed that Taz had developed a limp. He was still as active and mobile as ever, but he was favouring his right foreleg, his head bobbing as he walked. She decided that a visit to the vet was in order, so she fetched the cat carrier in preparation for the trip. Taz must have had some distant memory of the significance of the blue plastic cage: when Hilary went looking for him, he’d vanished. He didn’t come back for the next four days. She looked everywhere, but there was no sign of him. Then one evening last week, she heard a miaow: Taz was at the back door. The lameness was now much worse, and he was holding his right foreleg up, unable to put any weight on it at all. It was as if he’d come back, looking for help. Hilary kept him indoors overnight, worried that if she let him sleep in his normal cat house, he’d disappear again. She brought him up to see me first thing the following morning. When I examined Taz, it was obvious that the focus of the lameness was in his right shoulder, which was swollen and painful. The poor cat was not at all happy as I gently felt the sore area. I admitted him for a short anaesthetic,...
Ginger the cat had toothache

Ginger the cat had 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...
Max the cat had a dislocated hip

Max the cat had a dislocated 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: a few 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. It was a fine day, so Max should have been out and about. Instead, he was lying quietly on a pile...
Snowy  the cat suffered serious injuries

Snowy the cat suffered serious injuries

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 refused to come out when Geraldine called him. She eventually had...