Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Meet our August Cat of the Month, Fergus!


Fergus is a little 2 year old orange tabby that we first got to meet a few weeks ago. He is a big city cat from New York City, and has what has been diagnosed as a mild case of cerebellar hypoplasia (CH). This is a condition that affects the development of the brain in young cats when their mother is exposed to distemper - either the disease or the vaccine - during pregnancy. Cats with cerebellar hypoplasia are wobbly and display "intention tremors" or "stutter steps", but are otherwise generally happy, sociable cats that make excellent companions.

His owners have a lovely and heartwarming story about his adoption:
"My girlfriend, and I decided after Jackson (a former ECats patient) died, we wanted a pair of cats and for them to be with special needs or difficult to home for some reason and that we had to wait until we returned to Michigan so we wouldn't have to travel with them from New York.

"Meanwhile, my girlfriend learned about CH (aka "wobbly") cats and became obsessed with them. I was interested but when I found out that when the CH is severe enough, they can need help using litter boxes, can't get on or off furniture on their own, etc. - that was my limit. My girlfriend took that as "we're getting a CH kitty!" and ran with it. 

"Meanwhile, it was taking us longer to move to MI than expected and my girlfriend found a tripod (three-legged cat) named "Bunny" who needed a home. I was holding firm about no new cats till
Furgus in August
Michigan, but Bunny was going to be at a cat adoption event so I agreed to go "just to look." We met her, and she was very cute. We asked, just out of curiosity, if we could see how she would interact with another cat.  The rescuer said she had just gotten a new little guy who was a stray picked up in Queens that the organization had rescued (and checked out, neutered, etc) who seemed to be friendly around other cats so she'd bring him into the room to see how it would go. 

"The rescuer brought in Fergus and said offhandedly when she went to set him down, "now he's a little wobbly..." We both lit up, my girlfriend especially, and she asked "Does he have CH?"  The rescuer said "I'm kind of the CH lady around here and I haven't met him till this morning, but let's have a look..." so she put him down and he was timid and all of that given the situation, but was able to walk without much trouble, if a little uncoordinated.  Plus he had splayed out front paws so she said she suspected he had a mild case.  Meanwhile he was as cute and sweet as could be, as was Bunny, so after a little while together, all of my edicts went out the window and we were like, "We'll take 'em both!"  And I have to say, Bunny is genuinely wonderful and Fergus is off the charts with how sweet and loving he is and how fun he is just to be around.  He's got the cutest
Fergus telling his reflection "You look MAH-velous!"
demeanor, loves people and has countless adorable quirks. The only thing we don't like is that it's hard to capture his magic on camera.  He comes across as cute and all but it's a rare picture that captures his essence which often is in his eyes - they get round with big pupils and look like a Margaret Keane painting.  But more often than not, he looks like any cute cat when the camera comes out.  And, like Jackson, he's sick of getting his picture taken at this point."
Fergus prior to surgery

Fergus was brought to Exclusively Cats for the first time because he was feeling a little under the weather. He hadn't gained much weight since his owners had adopted him, and now he was vomiting. We started treating him with conservative therapies to help decrease his vomiting and increase his appetite, but it soon became apparent that something more was wrong than a simple upset stomach.

There was no obvious foreign body ingestion on his x-rays at emergency, but that is what the ER
suspected. Fergus returned to us for surgery, and we were able to confirm the location of the obstruction with a special x-ray contrast study.We passed some air into the digestive tract to help outline the intestinal tract. This is called a "negative contrast" study. The intestinal tract is a tube, so air should go in one end and out the other, but in Fergus's case, it stopped. We passed air into the opposite end of the intestinal tract, and again it did not pass all the way through. What we were left with was a small area of density that was obstructing the intestine and preventing things from passing either direction. At this point, it was apparent that Fergus needed surgery to remove the obstruction.

Air would not completely fill the intestinal tract.
We were able to localize the obstruction, which was very close to the colon. If the object had been a little smaller, we might have been able to encourage it to enter the large intestine and then pass normally, however, it was just a little too large to pass through the junction between the small intestine and large intestine, so Dr. Demos surgically removed it. She also checked the rest of the intestinal tract for any additional foreign material. The object was a small knot of felt material.

The culprit!
When we showed the object to the owners, it was immediately recognized as part of a toy. Fergus was not known for eating his toys, but when his owners checked the toy in question, they discovered that he had indeed recently chewed the end off!
Fergus visiting with family right after surgery.

Well-chewed felt toy
Young cats can often get themselves into trouble by chewing on inappropriate objects, as some of our staff members know all too well! When that happens, sometimes the object might pass, and other times, the object must be surgically removed. We have seen hair ties, hair scrunchies, rubber bands, fishing lines (with and without hooks), needles and threads, many kinds of small children's toys (or pieces of small children's toys), Easter grass, Halloween spiderweb decorations, carpet, yarn, shoelaces, ear plugs, foam puzzle pieces, regular puzzle pieces and coins. If you think that your cat may have eaten something inappropriate, it is a good idea to check with your vet to see if it is something to be concerned about. Your vet may just have you monitor your cat, but some items may be toxic. Sometimes, you may not know if your cat has eaten an inappropriate item, such as in Fergus's case - that fleece did not really appear to have been eaten unless you knew to look for it! He chewed it off quite neatly. If you have a young, playful cat that starts acting lethargic, does not want to eat or starts acutely vomiting (especially right after eating) or if your cat vomits bright green fluid (bile), you should also call your veterinarian right away, like Fergus's owners did!

Happily, Fergus did very well after surgery, came to spend a few days with us while his owners were out of town post-surgery, and he is now quite back to his old self!

We celebrate Fergus as our August cat because he is a kitty who has medical challenges but still found a loving home, and despite his challenges is a feisty, adorable and pretty normal little guy! We also celebrate him (along with all those other naughty toy-eating kitties of all ages and breeds) as a success story who we are honored to have been able to help!

Fergus's glamor shot!