Tag Archives: cats

Oops… I did it (not quite again)

Burj al Arab, DubaiOops….I did it (not quite again)

As you may have guessed by the digital silence on the blog for the past week it has been somewhat of a busy one. The good news, however, is that there should be lots of fun and interesting things to tell you about.

The working week for me now starts on a Sunday, which I must admit I still haven’t gotten used to, meaning that my mind and body are still very much in ‘downtime’ mode when the alarm goes off at what feels ridiculously early. The fact that I haven’t been sleeping brilliantly probably doesn’t help matters – I am still adjusting to the heat and seem to have a choice to make most nights: either sweat it out or freeze with the air-conditioning running, something that I have opted for on several occasions, although this does come with a price, which is that you make up with a mouth and throat drier than the desert in which I know reside. Still, come the summer months, when the temperature apparently hovers almost continuously at a sizzling 40 degrees celcius, or higher, I am going to be more than happy to trade a dry throat for some comfort. Anyway, I digress. So, the alarm now goes at 6am each morning, with plans for this to gradually be pushed back as I start to get out in the cool(er) mornings before work to train, and after the usual pre-work preparations – I’m really not going to bore you with details of how I get ready for work – it’s in the car and a forty or so minute drive from The Springs to the clinic, in an area of Dubai called Umm Suqeim, which is but a few blocks back from the beach itself and the famous hotel in the shape of a huge sail, the Burj al Arab. In fact, I often pop across to the small mall across the street at lunchtime and am able to sit there gazing at the surreal sight that is the Burj. I still haven’t become used to it, even after two weeks.

The clinic is a pretty busy one and the appointments start fairly punctually at 8am, with the expectation being that we’re in a little earlier, especially if we have any in patients to attend to first. I have been consulting pretty much since starting, although have done a couple of neuters as second, relief surgeon, on one morning after a couple of hours seeing clients. This is really to help me get familiar with the computer system – not that tricky actually, although it’s the various pricing codes that are always the sticking point when you move to a new place – and to allow me to familiarise myself with the specifics of vaccinations, and other Dubai-specific matters. There are, it transpires, certain conditions that we see more of here in Dubai than I would have seen back in the UK and a few that we really see hardly at all, such as ehrlichiosis.

drawing up a dog vaccineVaccinations are something that I have now done dozens of since joining and the key points to remember are a) everything gets vaccinated against everything each year, so no two year this or staggered vaccination patterns. Basically the authorities have decreed that dogs and cats are to be fully boosted each year, including against rabies, which does make choosing which vaccines to give much simpler. In order to get their annual Municipality tag, which is effectively a registration and must be worn on a collar at all times, they have to have a readable microchip, so every animal is scanned, and then a valid rabies vaccination. We can then issue new tags in house. We actually have a few clients who visit us from outside of Dubai, such as Abu Dhabi or Al Ain, and so they don’t require a tag. It’s only animals local to Dubai that are required to have one.

With cats, the same principles apply as do in the UK, in as much as pure house cats are not routinely given FeLV vaccine, but any cats that do venture out are strongly advised to have the vaccination, as we see a lot of FeLV/ FIV positives here. The cats just seem to be a whole lot more feisty and have serious attitude, so the fact that FIV is rife comes as no surprise to be honest. In fact, the new challenge, it seems, is to remain cat scratch or bite free each day. I had one vaccination consultation where the cat was fine, albeit with very gentle and calm handling, right up until the third and final injection, when it literally switched and went feral on me, scratching me but thankfully not landing a teeth shot. Although getting bitten by a cat must suck anywhere, it’s more of a pain here as any of the antibiotics or, God forbid, hospital treatment that would invariably be required ends up coming out of your own, private pocket, as there is no NHS here and we are not covered by any work-provided health insurance. Personally I think it would be fair for any ‘work related’ injuries that require treatment to be covered by the clinic, but that’s not the deal so its extra important to take care. Even the kittens here are little savages, and I had one spirited little stray to jab the other day, which made for a real challenge – good luck rehoming that one!

EM image of Psoroptes miteIn terms of the species split, its fairly even on the dog versus cat front, with the odd small furry and rabbit thrown in for good measure, much as back home. I’ve seen a couple of rabbits in my first two weeks, the first unfortunately requiring euthanasia as a result of being really badly affected by psoroptic mange, to the point that it’s paws were all thickened and crusty, and it had small facial abscesses where it had been scratching itself. It was also ridiculously thin and clearly wasn’t going to handle the pretty intensive treatment that was needed in order to try and resolve the issue. In the UK, all we would do in such cases is some ivermectin spot-on, with it clearing quite easily. Not so in Dubai, where mange seems to have some oomph and rabbits need systemic ivermectin, anaesthetic to bathe and remove the crusts and scabs, antibiotics to manage the skin infection, and ongoing regular treatment, often with a poor outcome anyway. Diet, as ever, is another issue for rabbits here, with the same poor understanding about optimal rabbit nutrition being prevalent as it is anywhere. There’s no reason why we can’t change that though.

So, you’ve had some insight into the professional side of things here in Dubai. Now comes a story that may make you laugh, or possibly scowl disapprovingly. Either way I would like to point out that it was in no way intentional and will not, repeat not, be happening again.

wine glassesOk, so last Monday I was invited out by one of our clients, Simon, who had kindly offered to give me the low down on Dubai given as I am a newbie in town. He had an extra ticket to an exclusive wine tasting being held at Hotel H, one of the many fancy and swanky hotels here in Dubes and so, after a (typically) manic day at work, whereby I didn’t actually think I was going to get away on time for the event, I dived in a cab as it screeched up to the clinic and the two of us darted for the venue. A quick splash of water to the face at the hotel was the best I could do to try and mask the fact that I probably still smelt faintly of ‘animals’, and off to the hotel restaurant it was to meet our host and other guests for the tasting. This will give you some notion of how small a town Dubai actually is: the host for the event and the very first person we met was none other than my friend Majid’s friend, Laurent, who I had literally met for the first time the previous evening! I recalled him telling me that he was in events and marketing and so, here I was, able to see first-hand exactly what he was talking about. The company he works with, Lime & Tonic, are a specialist events company who host really cool, unique events – I recommend checking out their site, especially as they have a presence all over the world. The format for the evening was that we were going to sample about six different wines, from a number of locations and all selected by Hotel H’s gifted new sommelier, Valentino Minotti. In fact, we were handed rather large glasses of incredible sparkling wine as we arrived, and these were kept topped up in expert fashion. Before I knew what was happening, we were being presented with an incredible Merlot, and all before we had even officially started the event. I think you can guess where this story is heading….

Fast forward a brilliant evening with some incredible wines, equally delicious food and some riotously fun people, including a guy and girl from MyDubaiMyCity, a couple of Aussies and a Brit, who has been over here for a number of years and writes a great blog of her own, Debbie. I do have recollections of Simon leaving and in hindsight that should have been my cue to do the same. All I can say is that my brain must have just been in full-blown holiday mode, given that I am still adjusting to the reality of the fact that I actually now LIVE here, and so going home didn’t seem like it needed to be done. Anyway, eventually we left, hopped in a taxi that went via TECOM to drop Debbie off and then to my place in the Springs. I do remember being sick, checking that my alarm was set for 6am and then, well, then it went blank. That was until I woke to the sound of my phone ringing and the sight on the screen of a) the time (0905!!!!) and b) the caller (my boss!!!!). I was awake at that point! I could not believe that I had allowed such a thing to happen, and less than a week into a new job too. Needless to say, I couldn’t apologise enough, leaped into a shower and then found a taxi to whisk me to work over an hour late and feeling like my brain was trying to peel itself away from my skull. If you have never suffered a hangover in the heat then you haven’t really experienced the full force of a hangover, full stop. The only other time I felt like that, albeit that time it was a tad worse, was in Ibiza during my final year holiday with my original year of vets. I remember waking up feeling the desperate need for water but at the same time feeling too decrepid and ‘in pain’ to haul my carcass up in order to go downstairs to the shop to buy some, as you had to do due to the tap water being pretty much unpotable. So now, here I was, being taxied in to do a full day’s work at a busy clinic, in a country where alcohol is tolerated behind closed doors but where it is illegal to be ‘drunk in public,’ and where it is not unheard of for taxi drivers to take offence at people who are clearly drunk and promptly drive them to the nearest police station. Not my proudest moment!

All I could do was just keep my head down, do my job and accept the huge avalanche of ridicule and ribbing that inevitably poured my way. Thankfully, I actually felt pretty normal by the early afternoon, and even managed a 32km cycle at the purpose built Nad al Sheba track that evening. I was granted a pass for this, my first offence, and it was very gracious of Malcolm and Monique to see the funny side in it all, although I assured them numerous times that it was totally out of character and not something that would be happening again. In fact, I think the lessons to take home are that a) I definately can’t handle my drink (already knew that) and b) it is a bad, bad idea to do anything that involves alcohol on a ‘school night.’ In all seriousness, the law on drink driving here is very clear: zero tolerance, and even though I knew not to drive the next morning, there is always the danger that there may still be traces in the blood the following evening, with even a trace marking you as instantly guilty. As such, I think I can envisage my contact with alcohol to be limited to the odd one or two beers and only ever on a weekend. If at all.

On the subject of driving, that is one thing that demands some serious attention here in Dubai. The roads are very similar to the system employed in the States, and my journey to work and, well, anywhere really, involves traveling on the six lane monster of a highway that is the E11, or the Sheikh Zayed Highway, which runs the length of the UAE west coast, linking Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Although there are clearly marked speed limits on all roads, very few people seem to ever stick to them and it is a bit of a free for all on the roads, with lots of tail-gating, flashing of lights, beeping of horns and swerving in and out of spaces, with undertaking a given. In fact the journey to and from work each evening is an adventure all in itself. One thing that it takes a lot of self-discipline to avoid doing is gesturing at bad, or rude, drivers, such as those who speed up behind you and flash their lights for you to get out of the way. I will be the first to admit that in the UK, if I had someone do that to me when I was in the fast lane doing a decent speed, then I usually just sat there and, if they persisted in flashing or beeping, they would then get a flipping of the proverbial bird, which if anything always manages to make me feel better about the whole unfortunate interaction. Not so here as gesturing in any way to another driver that could be perceived by that person to be offensive is illegal and can land you in hot water, regardless of the circumstances. As such, it is just best to ignore the idiot behind you, signal to pull over out of their way and let them speed off on their merry little way. The problem is that I am now not even sure if it’s ok to wave in order to thank someone on the road, for the fear that any gesture could be construed as insulting. As such, I have become more of an active head nodder, which I don’t think you can get into trouble for(?).

The working days here are very long, with 8am starts and finishes of 7pm, or often later. Granted, if we get the morning’s ops and consults done by 1pm we can theoretically have a little under 2 hours off for lunch, but its rare that happens, as anyone in practice will be able to attest to. As such, by the end of the working week I am finding myself feeling pretty cream crackered. This may be one reason why I ended up feeling a little under the weather this week, as I suspect the mild fatigue just added to the challenges my immune system is having adjusting to the new food, water and environment in general. There’s a whole world of new bugs out there to start getting used to, and that fact seems to have conspired against me a little over the past few days. Either that or I am having one of my classic reactions to Subway sandwiches?! (we had really nice sandwiches provided at our CPD evening the other day, which was run by Dr Rachel Ballantyne, with the talk being on Eukanuba urinary diets and urinary crystals). I have no idea what it is (all psychosomatic i’m sure) but every time I eat at Subway I always end up feeling ill. I just can’t explain it. Weird.

Kitesurfing in DubaiThankfully, the fatigue and general feeling of malaise hasn’t impinged on my weekend too much and I got out for a kitesurfing lesson yesterday afternoon, which was awesome. The beach on which the lesson took place happened to be hosting a kitesurfing competition which, despite making it a bit crowded, especially when added to by the legions of sunbathers who chose to put themselves at risk by soaking up the rays on a kitesurfing beach, looked amazing. The sight of scores of colourful power kites and their boarders speeding off, set against the backdrop of azure blue seas and the view of the Burj al Arab made for quite a fantastic view. The lesson itself ended up being more of a refresher of the course I took in Wales back in August, and we went over safe kite handling on land before progressing on to body dragging in the water. Before I knew it, two hours was over and it was time to pack up the kite, with thoughts heading forward to the next lesson in a week (wind permitting), in which the plan is to get out on the board. That is one of the major advantages of living and working out here: the great weather, which means that fun, outdoor recreational activities like kitesurfing and skydiving are serious options. This fact means that working a busy, hectic week is way more tolerable, as you know you’re going to get some serious fun in at the weekend. My instructor was a guy called Craig, who is originally a joiner from the Isle of Man, who came over to Dubai with his wife and did his instructors’ qualifications, meaning that his office is now the beach. Not a bad way to earn a living, something he’ll be the first to admit.

The other great thing I managed to do yesterday was get hold of some tickets to go and see Metallica, who are due to play in Abu Dhabi in April, and who I have been eager to see for a long while now. Thankfully, it seems the only gigs that really sell out quickly here are pop, such as Justin Bieber, which means that unless you leave it right to the last minute there is none of the usual desperate panic to get concert tickets that you get back home. And no touts as far as I can tell. Which is awesome as touts really are a scurge on the music and entertainment industry. The tickets had sold out online but it seems that if you have the get-up and go enough to head to any of the Virgin Megastores, such as the one in the colossally huge Dubai Mall, then they normally have plenty of tickets, as was the case this time. Roll on April!

Talking of Abu Dhabi, today was a bit of a bind to be honest. I had planned to head down nice and early to watch a load of friends, and some people from work, compete in the big triathlon, as well as do some big star spotting. In fact, I was up at 5am and in the car super early only to be met the other end of an hour’s drive by road closures, no signs or directions and, most annoyingly of all, blank looks from the very same people closing the roads. At one point they ushered me through a set of cones and I had the uneasy feeling that they had directed me onto the course and so had visions of being met by a hoard of disgruntled cyclists. Instead, I just had to admit defeat and turn the car around, heading straight back to Dubai. The upside is that I now know where the concert venue is. Oh, and Ikea 🙂 So, no triathlon but it has given me a day at home to catch up on the writing, so not a major drag then.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it for this week. Until the next exciting installment….

Vet News – Your Monthly Digest

Vet NewsSo, what has caught the eyes of our intrepid veterinary reporters this month? They have taken time out from their hectic schedules of revision, exams and preparing applications for vet school to scour the veterinary press and bring you a bite-sized, easily digestible account of some of the interesting stories of interest to vets in June.

We like to think that you’re finding this feature helpful, interesting and also fun, so feel free to let us know here or on our Facebook page.

Right, over to our Vet News Editors, including a couple of new names to add to the growing roster of awesomeness that is the Vet News Editors team.

Your Editors:

Hannah Johnstone (FARM)

ElsdeVrijer_Vet News Farm EditorEls de Vrijer (FARM) – “Hi everyone, my name is Els, I’m 17 years old, and am hoping to apply for Vet School this September. I live in Norfolk and I’ve spent several weeks seeing large animal practice. It is definitely the most exciting but also challenging type of veterinary work, and certainly one which is constantly in the news. My favorite type of farm work is lambing, and the first lamb I ever brought to this world had the Schmallenberg virus, which was very eye-opening. I am a keen horse rider but also love walking my Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, called ‘Mac’ on the beach.”
Emma Plowright (FARM)
Pippa Lyons, Vet News, Horse EditorPippa Lyon (HORSES) – “I’m 17 years of age and live in London. I own a horse, rescue dog and chickens. When I am not writing for Vet News I enjoy horse riding and listening to music.”
Georgie Holiday (ZOO & EXOTICS)

Ilakiya Guruswamy (CATS & DOGS) – “Just someone who after going through phases of wanting to be a crocodile, Eliza Thornberry, a member of the Bomb Disposal Unit, an X-(wo)man, and an alpaca farmer, has decided to try and pursue a career in Veterinary Medicine.”

Stories:

Badger culls in the West of England: will they go ahead?

Els de Vrijer (Vet News Editor, Farm)

badgerLast month, environment secretary Caroline Spelman stated she was still “reasonably confident” that the two proposed pilot badger culls, planned for this autumn, would still go ahead, despite legal action taken against the government’s plans by The Badger Trust. The government has introduced the scheme in an attempt to kick start the eradication of bovine tuberculosis in England. The pilot scheme will allow farmers in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset to cull any badgers crossing their land.

These plans have come under speculation following the failure of a similar scheme in Wales, where a planned cull in Pembrokeshire was withdrawn following widespread opposition from members of the public. Sadly there is still a constant battle between farmers and wildlife lovers all over the U.K; 2010 saw the forced slaughter of over 25,000 cattle – some carriers, but many “at risk” – clearly a devastating loss for many cattle farmers. Recently, there have been several anti-cull protests in West Gloucestershire, even with celebrities getting involved, such as Brian May, from the band “Queen”. He believes, like the Welsh government, that vaccination against bTB is a definite option, but others, like DEFRA, state that useable vaccines for the disease are “years away”. The Welsh government science advisor recently resigned after the Welsh government reversed their plans for the badger cull, as he felt he “wasn’t confident” that a vaccination programme would be successful.

There is no research yet which is extensive enough to provide a clear answer to the divided opinion about the management and treatment of bovine tuberculosis, but the government hopes that the pilot culls will give clear answers about the extent to which badgers are responsible for transmission of it. What is currently unknown is whether the judicial review of the environment secretary’s decision will lead to a halt to the plans, or whether thousands of farmers and the veterinary profession will finally get some answers to this very serious animal health issue.

 

Liver Fluke in Cattle

Emma Plowright (Vet News Editor, Farm)

CowLiver fluke is common in the UK but recent figures from the food standards agency have revealed a trend : the number of cases continues to rise year after year. Although this increase was just half a per cent between 2010 and 2011, the number is three times what it was in 2001.

Fasciola hepatica is the parasite responsible for the disease. In the liver of the host, it produces eggs which are passed out in the host’s faeces. These then hatch into larvae which infect a certain type snail and develop into cercaria. These leave the snail and move out on to the grass, where they remain. They are then easily ingested by grazing cattle and the cycle begins again. Infestation with fluke has many negative effects including loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss, poor milk yield and greater susceptibility to other infection. As a result, the disease leads to decreased profits for farmers. If the number of cases continues to follow the same pattern, the effect on the farming industry will be even greater.

The wetter than average weather during April may have contributed to a recent increase in the number of snails, and therefore cases of the disease, but the figures clearly show a more general increase over the past 10 years.

Money over Welfare

Hannah Johnstone (Vet News Editor, Farm)

Everyone loves to win, but when farmers carry out udder gluing in a bid to win, people are beginning to question whether this is just taking things too far, after all farmers are supposed to have a duty of care with regard to their animals.

Udder gluing is when farmers pump gas into a cows udder before sealing with superglue, this supposedly creates a ‘full’ udder illusion as milk and gas is unable to escape. When showing cows at auction the full udder is now a well-known attribute and criteria that the cows must meet. A champion can fetch up to £100,000 meaning competition is growing at a ferocious rate however the welfare of animals is decreasing as a result. It is thought that the cows are being left in this state for up to 24 hours and it has been proven to cause severe pain and discomfort to these ‘prize’ cows. Government deputy chief vet, Alick Simmons stated: “This practice is totally unacceptable and has serious welfare implications for the animals. Farmers clearly have a duty of care for their animals but vets, too, need to make sure that they take action where they see this practice taking place.”

Due to numerous complaints the RSPCA are now involved with this growing issue and animals entered into auctions will now be checked over for any signs of artificial inflation. As well as the RSPCA the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) are also involved and will be acting against any breaches of the new welfare laws, anyone proved guilty will be imprisoned for up to six months or fined up to £5,000 and banned from keeping animals. Although no one has yet been prosecuted The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmer (RABDF) implemented a rule banning the sealing of teats at a show in Birmingham last September.

British Veterinary Association (BVA) president Carl Padgett quoted: “in order to prevent the pumping it will require a change of mind set”, he also questioned “why cows have to show huge udders to be champions.” Carl Padgett is currently arranging meetings with breeders and show organisers in order to discuss the possibility of ultrasound scanning the cows entered into each show. Many different people and organisations are now recognising this as a “serious problem” as described by farm vet David Martin after a BVA conference.

Udder gluing is an issue that originated from America and previous attempts have been made to prevent it, this disturbing practice is on a growing increase and something needs to be done sooner rather than later to save animals suffering. It is a topic that has caused masses of controversy throughout the farming community.

 Bibliography:

http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/ruralfocus/9737884.Vets_condemn_udder_gluing/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/agriculture/farming/9293216/Farmers-pumping-cows-udders-full-of-gas-and-gluing-them-up-to-win-prizes.html#

Laminitis

Pippa Lyon (Vet News Editor, Horses)

HorsesSummer has finally arrived, and the sunny weather combined with A LOT of rain has led to lush green grass growing in pasture all around Britain. This has triggered a sharp rise in the laminitis cases.

Laminitis is a painful disease which affects horses’ feet causing severe lameness and if left untreated can be fatal. Unfortunately, no one is sure on the cause of laminitis, but high intake of sugar and starch in grass, stress and obesity are all thought to be linked. There are two main types of laminitis in horses:

Acute laminitis
A horse may suddenly develop symptoms such as not being able to walk or stand up; they will be visibly lame and will commonly stand with the weight on the back feet to remove pressure from the front.

Chronic laminitis
This generally occurs when the horse has previously had the disease and is showing on-going symptoms. If left, it can cause the pedal bone to rotate in the hoof leading to permanent damage.

Both types of laminitis are considered serious and vets may bandage frog supports onto the hooves to reduce pressure as well as administering pain relief. In bad cases, X-rays may be taken and vets must work with farriers to provide shoes to try and realign the pedal bone.

As with many diseases prevention is better than cure and horse owners should be encouraged to monitor their horse’s diets and restrict grazing if necessary.

 

Illegal Pet Trade Could Lead to Extinction

Georgie Holiday (Vet News Editor, Zoo & Exotics)

The illegal pet trade has been a problem in animal conservation for hundreds of years, having been a reason for the loss of countless animal species in the wild.

LorisRecently, the International Animal Rescue (or IAR) has been focussing efforts to bring an end to the trading of a particular animal- the loris.

What is a loris? Relatives of lemurs and bush-babies, lorises are mammals found in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. There are countless laws protecting the lorises- with fines of $10,000 and even prison sentences- but, despite this, the poaching of the animals for illegal trade has boomed over the past decade.

Lorises are venomous, so you wouldn’t initially think they would make great pets. However, the hunters use clippers or pliers to cut out the poisonous teeth, leading to trauma and even death. This also means that the lorises cannot feed themselves if they are ever reintroduced into the wild.

Two years ago, two hunted lorises which still had their teeth were rescued by the IAR and had radio collars fitted before they were released. Today the lorises can still be traced and have found to be sleeping with wild lorises and grooming each other, proving the success of rehabilitation if the teeth are still intact. However, it is estimated that 76% of the lorises in captivity are not this lucky.

The IAR have launched a social awareness campaign which outlines the dangers and problems locals are causing by buying the animals at the market- namely, the likely extinction of lorises in the wild. Since 2011, this campaign has entered local media and is definitely raising awareness, although the market still exists and thrives.

Managing Pain in Cats

(Summary of the article ‘Clinical use of methadone in cats, Part One’, published in the May 14th issue of the Veterinary Times)

Ilakiya Guruswamy (Vet News Editor, Cats & Dogs)

CatSeveral surveys indicate that pain in cats has been largely under-treated in clinical practice throughout Europe, compared to dogs. There are several reasons for this;
· Difficulty in actually recognising pain
· A lack of licensed analgesic drugs
· A concern about the side effects of commonly used analgesic drugs
· A lack of information specific to cats
· Difficulty in medicating cats

The reasons for treating pain involve not only ethical issues, but also the fact that left untreated, pain can cause several pathophysiological disorders. In humans, it is understood that the consequences of these disorders can delay recovery from surgery, and increase the risk of postoperative complications. The pain can cause changes in the sensory processing in the central and peripheral nervous systems, which can be identified by the occurrence of primary and secondary hyperalgesia [an increased response to a painful stimulus], allodynia [a painful response to a normally harmless stimulus], and spontaneous pain. Once these changes in sensory processing take place, it is much more difficult to manage the pain effectively.

Drugs known as opioids, are known as the most effective pain killers in humans, and for cats. In the past, practitioners have been reluctant to use opoids in cats, for fear of opoid-induced excitement, or ‘opoid-mania’. This is a misconception based on very old data, which relate to the administration of very high doses of morphine, a magnitude higher than clinically recommended doses in cats.

Opoids form the backbone of preoperative analgesia regimens in cats. With the appropriate use of the drugs, euphoria in cats is produced, with a lot of purring, rolling, rubbing, and kneading with forepaws. Opoids also increase the effects of sedatives (acepromazine, alpha2-agonists, and benzodiazephines), allowing the use of lower doses of sedatives prior to surgery.

Big cats, Big surprises

lion, leopard, tigerThe standout feature of this week’s Safari Vet School – other than ITV’s incredible ability to massively over-dramatise everything –  was the lion dart, transport and release experience. As in previous posts most of the fun adventures that the students get up to manage to trigger some memory I have that I am able to draw parallels from with the safari experience. After all, in spite of being born in South Africa there are not too many Lions roaming the streets of Hampshire for me to get my clinical teeth into. Plenty of unpredictable, oft grumpy and sharp moggies though.

The students had to administer sedation to the two lions in question, in order to safely transport them across the reserve, and had to remain vigilant during the process due to the risk of the lions waking up. It highlighted the inherent unpredictability of sedation in general and how not all of our patients take note of the dose charts. We had a feline patient in yesterday who it was suspected may have had a foreign body impaction (ie may have had something stuck in his guts) as he had not been to the toilet and had been seen for vomiting previously. In order to fully assess him, including taking an xray of his abdomen, we opted to admit him for sedation and to start him on a drip in order to rehydrate him. In the end we needed to sedate him before we were able to place an i/v line as he was a bit of a flighty chap. The sedation worked a treat and within a few minutes our bouncy feline customer was a pliable bundle of fluff. This proved two points for me: 1. it is often preferable, both in terms of reducing stress on the patient and for making sure you, as the vet, are able to do the best job possible in the least amount of time, to sedate animals that are making life a little tricky when it comes to examining them; and 2. the response to sedation is such an inherently unpredictable game – another cat of the same weight may not have been touched by the dose we gave whilst the cat yesterday responded perfectly. Having top-up drugs, reversal agents, and additional medications and supportive treatments, such as oxygen, on hand is therefore essential, so that you are able to respond in real time to what is actually happening with your patient, rather than relying on what is ‘supposed’ to happen, as it rarely goes the way it should. The other thing to remember is that even though our patient wasn’t a 300kg lion, it could still have caused a decent amount of damage to either myself or one of my colleagues, especially during the recovery phase when animals are often very disorientated and confused. Anyone who has been on the sharp ends of a cat will certainly know what I mean. In terms of what was wrong with the cat, it turned out he was massively constipated and so a decent period of rehydration and an enema later and he was right as rain, including being significantly lighter than before! Ah, the glamour.

As a footnote, I just wanted to commend Fitz on her rather spectacular feat of acrobatics in diving out of the way of the zebra’s flailing hoof, which would have made quite a dent in her head if it had hit. Vets do seem to have to develop the reactions of a wired cat as, again, the unpredictability of our patients means that danger can literally fly at you from any direction at any time. Another feature of vets, and indeed nurses, seems to be our ability to contort ourselves into the oddest of positions and maintain said postures for lengthy periods of time in the course of administering to our patients. It sometimes feels like being a vet instantly puts you in contention for the title of World Twister Champion. Maybe compulsory yoga classes should form a part of the vetty curriculum?!

 

Aortic thrombo-Embolism in cats – a tragic condition

I had the tragic task of dealing with a case of aortic thrombo-embolism in the emergency clinic at the weekend, in a beautiful cat who had been presented by her owner after suddenly going off her back-legs.

This condition, which results in a blood clot forming and blocking the major blood vessels to the legs – most usually at the point where the body’s main artery, the aorta, branches to supply the hindlimbs – results in cat suddenly losing the use of their back legs, with the legs often feeling cold to the touch and with the absence of any normal sensation. This was confirmed when I performed a test to see whether there was any blood flow to the back legs by making a small needle impression in the pads (which normally results in a small spot of blood, as you would get if you pricked your finger with a needle) and by cutting the nail back past the quick, which is the equivalent of the very tip of our fingers and usually results in bleeding. The absence of any blood after both these tests confirmed the diagnosis and as a result the decision was made to put the cat to sleep.

There can be many reasons for such a clot to form in cats, with the most common reason being an underlying heart condition which if left undiagnosed and untreated can result in abnormal blood flow and potentially a clot forming, with some devastating and sudden effects. It is therefore important to ensure that you take your cat to the vet for regular check-ups, which will include the vet listening to their heart. Sometimes, however, as in the case yesterday, there is no apparent reason and it it just makes the situation that much more tragic.

Click here to read some more information about emergency situations with cats.