Cat Health Problems to Watch Out For

Cat Health ProblemsCat health problems aren’t always obvious as cats don’t really show when they are in pain and have no way of communicating that as humans do. However, there are some things that mean there is something seriously wrong. This is the second part of Raffers’ tale and follows on from his kidney stone episode (you can read the first part at EzineArticles).

We brought the big boy back from the vet where he had been given a clean bill of health following an operation to remove a kidney stone from his ureter. Not two hours later, we noticed that he couldn’t stand up; he had completely lost the use of his back legs. I managed to catch the vet in his car and he agreed to turn round and meet me back at his surgery.

After examining Raffers, the vet couldn’t really pinpoint what was wrong with him. He said it was possible that on the drive back home he had twisted in his box and damaged a nerve in his back or similar. The alternative was that he had suffered an aortic embolism (blood clot). The main aorta in cats runs down more or less beneath the spine from the heart all the way down, dividing and continuing into the rear legs.

The vet gave Raffers anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, strong pain killing and vitamin injections (I forget exactly which, I think K) and told me to go back in the morning if he wasn’t any better. I then went to borrow the cat cage from the charity (again) and took him home.

Out came the towel and the bed pads again and Raffers was installed in the cage. In the morning he was no better so back to the vet we went where he confirmed his original suspicion that the cause of the paralysis was a blood clot and prescribed heparin which I went off to get, leaving Raffers with him.

After that we went every day for about two weeks (except Sundays) for more anti-inflammatory and antibiotic injections and one of the twice daily heparin injections; I did the other one myself in the evenings.

A week or so went by and the vet detected an improvement in the muscle tone of Raffers’ legs and that his feet were marginally warmer than they had been so we continued the treatment as before. After a while the vet administered longer lasting anti-inflammatory doses and discontinued the antibiotics, so we only had to go back every five days.

Raffers made good progress except that he developed a rash on his legs as a result of all the drugs. He also developed a skin plaque on each hip. This presents as a really hard piece of skin which eventually lifts off to reveal a hole in the skin and the muscle below. It happens because the blood vessels in the affected area are starved of oxygen because of the embolism and the skin dies. However, it does heal up very slowly and the oxygen is subsequently provided by the surrounding blood vessels. The healing process for the plaques has been nearly two months so far but the holes have reduced to about 1cm diameter from maybe 2.5cm originally. These areas needed to be washed with oxygenated water and a cream applied twice a day.

The anti-inflammatory injections were steroid based and couldn’t be continued so we stopped them and the heparin injections too which we exchanged for a milder clot-busting oral drug.

Raffers is doing really well now. His feet will always be floppy but his thighs have regained most of their strength but he walks with his feet upside down and he can put on a rare turn of speed even going up and down steps. Parts of his feet are being rubbed a bit raw when he goes outside but eventually these areas will become calloused and won’t be affected. When he wants to jump on the sofa, he turns his feet the right way round and uses the strength in his haunches to leap up quite nimbly.

It’s been a long haul but I really thought in those early days that we would have to put Raffers to sleep. Everything I read on the internet led me to believe that unless a cat was treated in a specialist veterinary hospital it would never regain enough use of its legs to have any quality of life. However, a small veterinary surgery in Spain has proved that isn’t the case so all our thanks go to Julian and Eduardo, if you’re reading this.

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Update Tuesday 21st May, 2013

After miraculously regaining most of the use of both his feet and almost walking normally, my darling Raffers died suddenly on Sunday in our garden. We will miss him so much; his persistent yowling when he wanted anything, his trusting eyes, him keeping my feet warm on the sofa on a winter’s evening, everything. His little friend, Scruffy, misses him too.

RAFFERS 18MAY2013RIP Raffers

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