Bluebell is a ten year old cat

Bluebell is a ten year old cat

As an older cat, Bluebell lives a calm, quiet life. She spends her day snoozing in the sunshine or strolling around the garden, never venturing far from the house. She usually stays in at night too, although she is free to come and go as she pleases through the cat flap. A CAT FIGHT The family live in a bungalow, and last Monday night, Marguerite was woken at three in the morning by  the sound of a fearsome cat fight immediately outside her bedroom window. The caterwauling of the two animals was astonishingly loud, with screeches, wails and screams. Marguerite opened the window, and Bluebell jumped straight in, as if she had been waiting for an escape route. The security light outside had been activated by the cats, and Marguerite could clearly see a large, well-fed, grey tabby cat skulking off into the night. He looked like a pampered pet cat rather than a lean hungry feral animal, but he was obviously no less aggressive for his posh background. At first, Bluebell seemed completely unfazed by the incident: she was in good form, behaving normally, with a good appetite. It was as if nothing had happened. But thirty-six hours later – the morning after the morning after – she developed a dramatic lameness. She was unable to put any weight on her left foreleg, and she was limping around the house, holding it in the air. Marguerite brought her in to see me. A DIAGNOSIS WAS MADE The story of the cat fight gave me a useful clue about the cause of Bluebell’s lameness: cat bites are the most...
Persia is a 14 year old with a new lease for life

Persia is a 14 year old with a new lease for life

As she grew older, like many cats, Persia stopped being so thorough about grooming herself. She no longer spent as much time licking and nibbling her coat: she preferred just to sleep. As a result, her coat became matted and unkempt, and  she wouldn’t let Patricia go near her with a comb or brush. Professional grooming, with electric clippers to remove the clumps of fur, was the only answer. Persia is a feisty cat, and she wouldn’t let anyone go near her with noisy clippers: she needed to be sedated. Sedation can be risky if a cat is suffering from low grade heart disease or other hidden illnesses, so as part of her pre-grooming preparation, she was given a thorough veterinary check-over. THE “SENIOR PET” CHECK This “senior pet” health check came up with some interesting findings: Persia had three “hidden” problems. First, she had dental disease, with sore gums and teeth which were discouraging her from using her mouth to groom herself. Second, she had signs of arthritis, so she was no longer as able to twist and turn as she needed to do to reach her underside and extremities if she did groom herself. And third, she had an enlarged thyroid gland, indicating that she was suffering from hyperthyroidism, a common disease of older cats which can cause a range of signs, including an unkempt coat. We went ahead and gave Persia a thorough grooming under sedation, but we used the opportunity to tackle her other problems at the same time. First, we deepened the sedation to a full general anaesthetic, and we gave her a dental...
Ruby brings live mice into the house

Ruby brings live mice into the house

If anyone is unlucky enough to get a mouse or rat infestation in their home, one of the obvious suggestions to control the pests is to “get a cat”. Unfortunately for Amanda, the reverse situation has taken place. She didn’t have a problem with mice, but she did have a cat. And thanks to the cat, 3 year old Ruby, Amanda’s home developed a problem with residential mice. Ruby has a strong hunting instinct. Amanda can see this from the way that she plays with toys. If Amanda dangles a string with a feather on the end in front of Ruby, she’ll stalk it, crouching along the ground as she moves slowly towards it. Then she’ll pounce, grabbing the feather in her mouth. Despite her love of the feathery toy, she’s shown no interest in hunting birds, but she has learned to enjoy hunting mice. She waits patiently outside their nests, pouncing on them as soon as they appear. She carries the live mice around by the scruff of the neck, occasionally dropping them to play with them, batting them backwards and forwards with her front paws, then picking them up again in her mouth. She also enjoys bringing them back into the house through the cat flap, so that she can play with them some more in the company of her owners. Amanda is horrified when this happens, and she does her best to take the mice off Ruby, releasing them outside while locking Ruby up until they’ve made their escape. I’m often asked why cats bring their prey back into the house: it’s something to do with...
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...