Jasper is a Siamese cat with dental problems

Jasper is a Siamese cat with dental problems

Jasper has always been a healthy cat. I see him every April for his booster vaccination, and I always enjoy his distinctive Siamese personality. This year, as I checked him all over prior to his shot, there was one part of his body that was not quite right: his mouth. Jasper has been having mild dental problems since he was a two year old cat, and his owners have been doing their best to keep his teeth healthy. This year, for the first time, it was clear that he finally needs some serious attention from his dentist. He has a series of cavities along the sides of his back teeth, and as I examined these with a probe, he flinched. If he could talk, I know that he would tell me that these areas are often painful when he eats. Dental problems are a normal part of aging for animals. Young dogs and cats nearly always have healthy mouths, with white, perfectly aligned teeth, and pink healthy gums. Over the years, the wear-and-tear of daily eating begins to have a marked effect. Dark brown tartar accumulates at the base of the teeth. The gums recede and bacterial infection moves in. Halitosis and painful teeth are very common. Ken and his wife have done their best to keep Jasper’s teeth healthy. They have paid particular attention to his oral hygiene ever since he first had a bout of gingivitis at two years of age. Way back then, I had explained the different options of pet dental care to them. Ideally, a pet’s teeth should be brushed several times a week....
Snowy the cat was drenched in oil

Snowy the cat was drenched in oil

Snowy, like most Irish cats, is allowed to come and go from his own home as he pleases. A few weeks ago, Snowy was unlucky enough to encounter a danger that took everyone by surprise – she was attacked by human beings. Snowy is a friendly creature who likes attention. He likes to be petted behind her ears, and he purrs loudly. Nobody saw exactly what happened that day, but the consequences were very serious. One morning, Ciara’s mother heard a commotion of some kind, with the sound of raised voices. She went out into the street, and she saw a group of three youths running away from her, which immediately raised her suspicion that they might have been up to something. At the same time, Snowy rushed into the house from the same direction. He was obviously distressed, and he looked soaking wet. At first, the family thought that the youths had thrown a bucket of water at their cat. They coaxed Snowy out of the corner where he had hidden, and it was only then that they realised that something much more sinister had happened. Snowy had been drenched not in water, but in diesel fuel. It seemed that something horrific had almost happened that morning: the youths had thrown fuel onto him, then had tried to set him alight. Snowy had been very lucky. Diesel fuel is not as inflammable as many people believe, and he had not suffered the awful fate of being burnt alive. Instead, he had simply been terrified, and he was now coated with dark brown, greasy, foul-smelling diesel. The family tried to remove...
Kitty a 6 week old stray kitten

Kitty a 6 week old stray kitten

Ciara often drives along the road between Knockananna and Tinahealy in County Wicklow. It is a typical Irish country road, with small hills and bends to negotiate. In recent years, it has become busier with commuter traffic from Dublin.  Last week, as Ciara rounded a corner, she noticed a large silver 4×4 vehicle driving towards her on the opposite side of the road. She saw the driver throw something out of his window, and  it landed in the road directly in the path of her own car, thirty yards ahead of her. At first she presumed it was a small bag of rubbish, but as she approached, she noticed that the small object was moving. She braked heavily, skidding to a halt just in time to avoid hitting the object. It was only then that she realised that the “rubbish” was in fact a small kitten, now lying sprawled and badly injured on the road in front of her. Ciara immediately felt utterly outraged. How could a fellow human treat an innocent living creature in this way? She felt like turning around and pursuing the vehicle, in the hope of getting a registration number so that the driver could be made to face the consequences of his cruelty.  But even as she thought this, the kitten in front of her was struggling to stand up, and if she left it there, it would be unlikely to survive. The next car on the road would be certain to finish it off. She rushed over to the little animal, and carefully lifted it up. It was a small tabby kitten, no...
Lily the cat came home injured

Lily the cat came home injured

Lily is a home loving cat, but she does enjoy spending time in the back garden and surrounding area. She doesn’t venture far, and if Lydia ever goes out to call her, she soon comes scampering back inside. She is very happy to spend her time within shouting distance of the Tobin home. For Lily, the world does not need to be a bigger place. Lily has a habit of greeting everyone as they return home at the end of the day. A few weeks ago, Lydia saw her when she came back from work, at around six in the evening. A few minutes later, the cat slipped out into the garden through the cat flap. Half an hour later, there was a clatter at the back door as Lily crashed in through the cat flap before bolting to her favourite hideaway spot. It was immediately obvious that something had happened – Lily was normally a graceful creature, moving in and out through the cat flap slowly and silently.   Lydia went over to check her, and she could see that she had been injured. There was a blood stain on Lily’s lower back, and she could make out the vague outline of a wound beneath the matted fur. Lydia phoned our vet practice at once, and fifteen minutes later, Lily was being examined on my consulting table. It is always difficult to make an immediate assessment of wounds in animals, because of their dense fur coats. Lydia held Lily still, and reassured her, while I used electric clippers to trim away the hair from the blood stained area....
Sophie the cat suffered a broken pelvis

Sophie the cat suffered a broken pelvis

Sophie is a home-loving cat, and when there was no sign of her for three days, her family knew that there was something very wrong. They searched everywhere for her, and had almost given up hope. Then one morning, she appeared at the back door. She was very hungry, and she was delighted to be back, but she was unable to stand on her hind legs. She was brought in to see me at once. When I examined her, she seemed weakened and traumatised, but in good health generally, with no life threatening injuries. However, it was obvious that she had suffered a crushing-type injury to her pelvic area. I could feel that the bones of her pelvis were out of the normal alignment.  I admitted her for the day so that we could take x-ray pictures of her spine, pelvis and back legs. The x-rays revealed what had happened. There were multiple fractures of the bones of her pelvis, which is the large bone that links the spine to the back legs. The normal rectangular box shape of the pelvis had been squashed, and it was now shaped like a half-collapsed house of cards. Luckily, the most critical parts of the pelvis had not been damaged. The connection between the pelvis and the spine was unharmed, and both of her hip joints were intact. I knew from looking at the fractures that Sophie would be able to walk again, but there were some risks along the way, and her recovery was going to take several months. Sophie was sent home with pain relief and instructions for strict rest,...
Geri the cat has some unusual tastes in food

Geri the cat has some unusual tastes in food

Lauren’s family originally thought that Geri was a tom cat, christened Jerry after the “Tom and Jerry” cartoons. When “he” went to the vet and the truth about “his” sex was discovered, she kept her name, but it was re-spelt as “Geri”, in the manner of the ex-Spice Girl. Geri has always been the only pet in the home, and as such, she has tended to be the centre of attention. She is a bit of a “scaredy cat”, with a nervous temperament, and she spends much of her time around the house, where she feels secure and safe. She has free access to the outdoors, but she has discovered that the Big Bad World can be a frightening place, and she prefers not to go outside. Geri gradually seems to be becoming an indoor cat by choice. Geri recently came in for her first annual health check and vaccination. We discussed everything about Geri’s lifestyle, and I gave her a careful physical examination. She was in excellent general health, but there was one issue that I had to mention to Lauren and her family. Geri was just over one year old, but she was already showing a tendency to become overweight. Obesity in cats is a problem that has become more common in recent years. More and more cats have become indoor pets, either by their own choice (like Geri) or on their owner’s insistence. Indoor cats tend to spend a lot of time just lying around, sleeping or eating, and so they are prone to developing a paunch. Obesity has many effects throughout the body, and in...
Louis came home battered and bruised after a night out

Louis came home battered and bruised after a night out

As a kitten, Louis used to stay around the family home all the time. He loved being in the house, and he enjoyed playing with humans. As he grew older, he gradually changed, becoming more of an outdoor animal. He had a cat flap, so he was able to come and go as he pleased. When he was around six months of age, Katrina noticed that he was beginning to mark his territory in the garden, piddling against fence posts and vegetation. She never saw other cats around, but she noticed that Louis behaved in a watchful, wary way sometimes, as if he sensed that there were other cats close by. When he reached the age of a year or so, Louis began to leave the garden. He would head off by himself, over the back fence, and would not come back for several hours. Katrina reckoned this was part of a cat’s enjoyment of life, and she left him to his adventures. When Louis started to come home with small cuts on his face, and tufts of fur missing from his body, she realised that he must be getting into fights with other cats somewhere. She hoped that the behaviour would settle down, but in fact, it gradually worsened. Louis began to stay out all night, and when he came home, he looked beat-up and exhausted. He would retire to his bed, licking his wounds, and he would sleep for hours. Last week, Louis stayed away for two full days. When he came home, he looked as if he had been through twelve rounds in a boxing ring....
Cheeky the cat developed an all-over rash

Cheeky the cat developed an all-over rash

When Cheeky was brought in to see me, the main thing that her owners had noticed was a skin rash along her back and on her underside. The skin on her belly was particularly badly affected, with a raised blotchy red patch of sore skin.  Itchy animals are very common, especially in the summer months. In dogs, itchy skin causes scratching. Dogs tend to stand on three legs, and have a good scratch all over with one of their hind legs. Cats are more likely to lick and nibble itchy skin, and it look as if they are simply grooming themselves extra carefully. It is very common for owners to notice a rash in cats, rather than to be aware of them itching at themselves. There are many possible causes of itchiness. Ideally, it is best if the vet can discover the precise cause of the itch. If you remove the cause, you can then be sure that the itch will not recur. Unfortunately, it is not always simple to find the cause. Many animals suffer from vague, multiple allergies in the summer months. Typically, they might start to itch in late June, and then carry on itching through July, August and September. Then in October, the itch settles down. There is nothing no obvious cause. A general anti-inflammatory treatment is given, in the form of tablets or long-acting injections. The medication keeps the animal comfortable, the skin rash clears up, and by the time autumn comes along, the pet is better. The best guess is that the animal is allergic to some of the vegetation and pollens that...
Taz developed a limp

Taz 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,...
A semi wild cat had five kittens in the family home

A semi wild cat had five kittens in the family home

This family weren’t planning any new pets, but this summer they have a new cat and five kittens in their house. It started with a scraggy old feral tom cat in their back garden. He used to turn up in the evening, skulking around the place, and they felt sorry for him, giving him a bowl of food. He was a true feral cat, refusing to allow anyone to come close to him. One night, a few months ago, the old tom cat brought a young female cat with him: he let her share his dinner. She was more friendly than the tom cat, staying around in the daytime, and coming into the house. Over a few weeks, the girls noticed that the female cat, now named Pikachu, was getting fatter, and it was soon obvious that she was pregnant. At the same time, she became friendlier, allowing them to pet her. They knew that she’d soon produce kittens, so they set up a kittening box for her in the main living area of the house, following directions that they’d found online. She liked the box, sleeping in it every night, and a few weeks later, they came downstairs one morning to find her lying purring in the box beside five newborn kittens. At first she seemed contented, proudly showing off her babies to the family, but two days later, they all vanished overnight. When Holly and Lia came downstairs one morning, the kittening box was empty. They couldn’t understand how this had happened: the doors and windows were shut. Had Pikachu found a hidden exit? They searched everywhere...