When a sick animal arrives at one of our Anexa clinics – sometimes just by looking at the animal it is obvious what is wrong; sometimes it takes a bit more detective work; and sometimes it’s both.
T, a three year old female, spayed cat had been missing for at least two days over a hot weekend. When her owners found her, she was in a sad state and brought her into Anexa Vets Huntly for a check up.
On examination she was very dehydrated with a severely injured left hind leg which was oozing pus from two wounds.
After talking through the options, T was placed into critical care to stabilize her in preparation for surgery. In hospital she was treated with pain relief and antibiotics, blood was drawn and T was given intravenous fluid therapy to combat the dehydration and shock. As the treatment took effect T seemed to improve and was comfortable, ate well and toileted overnight. So the plan was to continue with the surgery required.
Sadly, in the meantime, the results of T’s blood tests that showed some serious abnormalities. Her results showed she was anemic and not replacing her red blood cells, as well as having some abnormalities in her white blood cell counts. These changes can occur in young cats infected with Feline immunosuppression virus (Feline Aids) or Feline leukaemia virus. Fortunately, we have the facilities at Anexa Huntly to run blood tests, quickly and effectively to see if she had been infected with either of these viruses.
Unfortunately, T tested positive to Feline Leukemia. Once this disease is contracted it cannot be cured, and causes severe immunosuppression making the patient more susceptible to severe infections and eventually full blown leukaemia (cancer of the blood cells) or lympoma (cancer of the lymphoid system).
Huntly has had a pocket of FELV (Feline Leukaemia) positive cases. It can be transmitted through saliva, blood, and to some extent urine and faeces. Kittens can contract the disease in utero (if mother is infected) and also through an infected mother’s milk.
There is no treatment as such, but a cat can be vaccinated to prevent it contracting the virus. Unfortunately, in New Zealand there is no longer a vaccination available for this disease although it is available overseas.
Sadly, as T was unlikely to be able to survive major surgery and her prognosis was terminal, her owner requested she be humanely euthanized. Her owner was grateful we had tested her viral status prior to putting her through surgery.
This case shows the importance and value of pre-anaesthetic and pre-surgical blood screening. Although the outcome was sad for T’s owners, the information gained through the testing prevented T being put through further unnecessary pain and suffering.