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...