Sophie the cat had a broken pelvis

Sophie the cat had 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, and...
Geri the cat was putting on weight

Geri the cat was putting on weight

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 the cat came home battered and bruised

Louis the cat came home battered and bruised

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....
Anka is a 5 year old cat who likes to travel on trains

Anka is a 5 year old cat who likes to travel on trains

Whenever I travel abroad, my eye is drawn to any animals that I encounter. When I was in Finland, and while travelling on a Finnish train, I was astonished to come across a tabby cat sitting in his own seat, as comfortable and relaxed as a human passenger. Here in Ireland, it is rare to see pets on trains, and any travelling cats are always securely confined in their pet carrier boxes. I stopped to talk to Sanna, to find out more about Anka’s story. The first thing that Sanna explained was that Anka was travelling in a specially designated “pet carriage”. She pointed to a sign on the wall, and sure enough, there was a clear sign indicating that the carriage was non-smoking, and that pets were allowed. As I looked around, I saw that there were a few more cats (although the others were in their carrier boxes), and there was a large German Shepherd dog as well. The Finnish rail authorities have recognised that pets need to travel, and that designated animal carriages are better for pets and pet-owners, as well as for other train passengers who may desire to avoid sitting anywhere near pets. All pets on Finnish trains must travel in this special pet carriage. (Interestingly, Finnish trains also have designated “child-carriages”, with child-locked doors at either end, and a play-area for toddlers, so that in a similar way, parents can have a child-friendly area, and other passengers can enjoy a child-free zone.) Sanna explained that she was a student living in Helsinki, but she often travelled home at weekends to visit her family. She could not leave Anka alone in Helsinki, and so the...
Fluffy and Murphy are indoor cats

Fluffy and Murphy are indoor cats

Fluffy and Murphy came into the family when they were young kittens. The family live in an urban area, and it was obvious that it would be hazardous for the cats to be allowed outside. The garden is too small to contain curious cats and there are busy roads all around. The sensible decision was made to keep the cats as indoor-only pets. It became one of the “house rules” that before any door or window was opened, a brief scout of the horizon was necessary to check for a cat in the room. The cats seemed to be well-balanced individuals, enjoying playing with each other, using litter trays and not showing any obvious signs of longing to be out-of-doors. When a visiting friend suggested that he was “cruel” to keep his cats indoors, Marcus contacted me. What was the truth? Was he being unfair to his pets? This is a debate that is argued across the world, and it is interesting that there are regional differences in the consensus of opinion that is reached. In Europe, perhaps because cats have been a free-ranging part of our society for so long, it is common for people to feel that cats have a right to range freely. There is this image of cats stalking in long grass, running up small trees and racing around the open space. Many Europeans feel uncomfortable with the idea of cats being kept indoors. They feel that it is almost as bad as keeping a rabbit in a small hutch or a hen in a battery cage. In North America and Australasia, the opposite view is taken. In these countries, cats are relative newcomers to the ecosystem....
Cheeky the cat had itchy skin

Cheeky the cat had itchy skin

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 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 pollen’s that are present in the summer. Many animals have the same problem every summer...
Chico the cat had diabetes

Chico the cat had diabetes

Chico is a large, striking-looking black cat with yellow eyes. His owner Rhona knows him very well, and over a period of a few weeks recently, she had noticed that there was something not right about him. She could not put her finger on exactly what was wrong, but she just knew that he was not himself, so she brought him in to see me. An owner’s intuition is one of the most sensitive barometers of a pet’s health. If you live with an animal, you become tuned in to their daily routines and behaviour. When a pet is unwell, the first sign of illness is often so subtle that a casual observer would not notice anything amiss. But as a pet owner, it may be very obvious to you that something has changed, and that your pet is “not their normal self”. If you do feel this, it is best to go to the vet for a more detailed examination of what is going on. Early diagnosis and treatment of illnesses can make the difference between life and death in some cases. When Chico arrived at my surgery, he seemed very bright and cheerful. He purred, and pushed his head against my hand in a friendly way. Before examining him properly, I asked Rhona some questions. Rhona’s main concern was that Chico was just not behaving as he normally did. When I questioned her closer, she told me that he seemed to have less energy than before, and was lying around the house more than usual. She thought that he had lost weight, and when I put him...
Cinders is a cat with cystitis

Cinders is a cat with cystitis

Cinders is an eleven month old female neutered black Domestic Shorthaired Cat. Her owner Orla was in the bathroom, when Cinders jumped up beside her and passed urine in the sink. Orla was shocked when she saw that urine was a dark red colour, and it contained small clots of blood. A Bloody urine is always a very significant sign that should never be ignored. Pets with this problem need to be taken to the vet immediately to establish the source of the blood. There are many possible causes. Often a series of tests needs to be carried out to make the most accurate diagnosis, and to determine the most appropriate treatment. When I examined Cinders, she seemed like a very healthy, contented young cat. She purred as I examined her, pressing her head against my hand in an affectionate way. Orla told me that apart from the urine incident, she was behaving completely normally at home. She was eating well, and had a normal thirst. Her temperature was normal, and she allowed me to feel her abdomen very thoroughly, so I could tell at once that there was nothing painful inside her, and there were no unusual swellings or growths. The most likely cause of Cinder’s problem was a condition known as “cystitis”, which means “inflammation of the bladder”. For different reasons, the inner lining of the bladder becomes bright red and sore looking, almost like a knee which has been grazed by a fall on tarmac. Blood oozes from the inflamed bladder wall into the urine. Many cats with cystitis also have increased urgency, and owners sometimes...
Pikachu the cat had 5 kittens at home

Pikachu the cat had 5 kittens at home

The 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...
Taqui is a feral cat

Taqui is a feral cat

Many people will be heading overseas over the next couple of months, escaping the cool dampness of the Irish “summer” for sunshine in destinations like Spain, Portugal and Greece. Marina runs an apartment complex that’s typical of many Mediterranean holiday resorts. She didn’t plan to have a cat in her workplace. Taqui just turned up a year ago, and has since become a daily visitor. She’s a friendly cat, approaching visitors with a friendly meow and a purr, but she doesn’t like to be picked up or held. She’s a classic example of a feral cat: her parents or grandparents would have been pets, but she must have been born in the wild, and has never learned to fully trust humans. Marina is aware that not all visiting holidaymakers are cat lovers. Some visitors leave out food for Taqui, even encouraging her to come into the apartments. But when their two week trip is over, the visitors who follow them often don’t like the idea of having a strange cat sharing their living accommodation. Marina has to deal with the consequences: she tries to persuade cat loving guests not to feed Taqui indoors and she explains to the anti-cat guests that Taqui is a friendly but shy animal who isn’t going to cause them any harm. Most guests understand the situation, and Taqui is a quick learner: once she realises that she’s no longer going to be fed in an apartment, she soon stops visiting. Marina has had plenty of experience of dealing with feral cats: she has friends who have had to deal with serious cat problems. One...