Saturday, August 29, 2009

Veterinary annecdotes,cats

Any companion animal veterinarian has a collection of strange or at least unusual happenings with cats since felines consist of about half of most such practices. An example of one such is not unusual as a problem but in this case was memorable. At a busy time of a day a friend and client rushed in our exit out of turn with a box. "Doc, I gotta get rid of these kittens in a hurry, you should be able to find homes with no trouble." He set the box down and left. I hurriedly looked and saw three of the most beautiful long haired kittens I had ever seen. A white one and a
yelow one and a black. An attendant put them in a cage to be examined later. The later exam indicated three 8 week old, probably registered pure bred kittens. I nearly took one home to Dot but thought better of it with the grooming and possible hairball problems of such and I knew a poor elderly client who had lost his old cat recently and had one of my help phone him. Later the same day he arrived via the local bus service and chose the red kitten. He had always wanted a red cat. A visitor from the past, an Army Sargent stopped by with three children just to say, hello and I asked if the children would like a beautiful kitten. They choose the white one. A local banker and his wife had had their old cat euthanized a week or so before and they were delighted to have that lovable black kitten. The fun started about a week later when the banker's kitten was brought in for an inoculation. I noticed a tiny spot of hair loss near one eye and was curious. I asked if anyone in their family had a rash. The woman immediately pulled up her blouse to expose her middle with spots all over. She was going to a dermatologist when she could get an appointment in a month. I told her to treat her condition as an emergency. She commented that her husband had a lesion on the end of his nose and as a banker had to meet the public and was embarrassed. That tiny spot on the kitten was ringworm, in humans sometimes called impetigo. I dispensed some medication that in a week had corrected the kitten's problem. In a few days a call from my Sargent friend informed me that his three children had developed rashes and spread them to three grades of school in Scarsdale, New York, closing down the grades until further notice. I phoned the poor client and he said he did indeed have a rash on his, "private" and he couldn't afford a doctor. I arranged for an appointment with a specialist in fungal disease at Yale where later I heard he was ready for the exam but when a woman doctor appeared to examine him he grabbed his clothes and ran out of the place. At the time that problem seemed serious and perhaps was but later it seemed to me to have a humorous side. Now in retrospect I know the problem is so prevalent that most kids have it as part of growing up. So perhaps the immunity that develops is a healthy stimulus of the immune system to prevent other more serious fungal problems.Much later I learned the three gift kittens came from a farm with an outbreak of ringworm in their horses and cattle and dogs. Another veterinarian had suggested the kittens might have responsible and should be illiminated. I was selected to be the illuminator but unfortunately not informed of the problem on that farm. One of the really remarkable cases concerned an old cat belonging to the then police chief of a neighboring town. Chief Fowler convinced me to do something against my "better" judgment. His problem was a huge growth on the shoulder of his cherished cat. He was against euthanasia and asked me to operate on it. For even in a young cat I thought surgery would be dangerous to life but his cat was 23 years old and looked every day of it. It was able to rise on it's feet to use its litter box and to eat very little. I said I was reluctant to do it as the cat would die if only from the anesthetic. He said he wanted me to try and if the cat died he would understand. I decided to attempt it in spite of my assuming it would be impossible. The cat took the injectable anesthetic as any adult cat would. The animal was shaved and prepped as with any surgical case while I listened to it's heart expecting to hear it stop beating. Then I decided on how I would accomplish it and began the hour surgery watching for death to interrupt my work. The cat reacted like any middle aged cat. She came out of the anesthesia normally and I phoned Chief Fowler. The cat went home, still an ancient looking animal without the huge pendulous tumor from its shoulder. A week later the Chief told me the old cat was doing things it hadn't done in years . It acted rejuvenated and was rejuvenated. With stitches removed the cat made a spectacular recovery. Chief Fowler moved from our area shortly afterword and I have often wondered how long that remarkable cat lived. That was early on in my practice and led me to perform surgery on any age cat usually with satisfactory results. Never say die? I had dispensed an antibiotic solution with a dropper bottle for an old difficult cat to give a dropperful three times a day. We had given the cat an enema as part of a treatment. The owner phoned and said he was having a problem administering the medication. I told him to smear it on the cats fore legs and it would be licked off. He appreciated the suggestion because every time he tried to insert it rectally the cat resisted. Someone failed to put "orally" on the bottle. A beautiful 18 story apartment building had been erected in the City of New Haven and my client and her husband had leased an apartment on the top floor. She entered their bedroom and their cat was parched on the open windowsill. As she sweet talked to the cat and advanced to rescue it, the cat leaped into the great out of doors and down. The woman hurried down and found the cat walking around limping on a rear leg. It was a minor fracture that healed uneventfully. 8 lives left? It was an emergency at 6 AM for a poor injured cat. I met the owner with his cat and wondered how a cat could get so much dirt mixed with blood over so much of its body. The situation was explained. The previous night the cat had been hit by a car and came dragging itself into their house. It was obviously a serious condition so the owner decided on euthanasia. He dug a grave in their back yard, took the cat out and shot it in the head with his 22 caliber rifle, buried it and stamped on the soft ground. Amen? Not quite. His wife opened the door to get the milk delivered that morning and there was the cat with blood, mud and dirt. My client had decided if a cat could go through that series of events it deserved to live. I set the broken leg and treated the gunshot wound that entered by an ear and exited toward the neck.
As was usual the cat was presented weekly and the splint was removed with good bone healing I thought. The day after the splint removal a phone call from the same client announced the cat had tried to cross the road again and was hit and had another broken leg. Not the one we had set but the other back leg. They decided they would let me put the cat to sleep. As indestructible as they seem they, like all mammals can be afflicted by disease that can kill in a few days.

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