Veterinary Blog

KINDNESS TO A STRANGER..our case of the month

It is with pleasure that we present our most interesting case of the month to our readers and friends.

Our choice is Jackson, an adult male grey Persian cat, a stray of the unknown background until a compassionate family adopted him about eight years ago

Jackson had shown up at the doorstep of a very kind-hearted and charitable family early in March 2007 and was welcomed into their household despite (or perhaps because of!), a very seriously injured right eye, numerous heavy hair mats of his bib and chest areas, greasy skin and an overall unthrifty condition. He was obviously the kind of cat used to toughing it out in tough times yet still, he presented himself as a gentle soul who trusted humans implicitly.

Jackson’s eye was so badly damaged that it was pushed backwards into his head and pus in his eye socket obscured a deformed, collapsed globe underneath the pus. It is reasonable to assume that his eye injury was associated with a very intense dispute with another cat over territorial rights some time in his recent past. As a hardened road warrior, it also seems reasonable to assume that he had bravely stood his ground but unfortunately the head on conflict had resulted in the sacrifice of his eye.

A very short time after the family welcome into their home Jackson was brought to our clinic for a physical examination. The adventure of his first visit to our clinic did not appear to cause Jackson to become defensive or fearful, just a little wary. He seemed to accept this circumstance as if used to trudging through his life’s tall grass and determined to make the best of it, no matter what came his way.

At the time of his assessment it was immediately apparent that Jackson’s eye was not salvageable by any medical or surgical means and that total eye removal (enucleation) was the only humane way to deal with his evident and significant eye pain. We performed this procedure a short while after his visit and also neutered and dematted him and cleaned his teeth as well.

Jackson responded very well to his loving care over many years. Then, one day he was brought to us because his observant owners had noticed some vision problems and an unusual look to his remaining left eye. This problem warranted a thorough evaluation by a specialist, even more so because this was Jackson’s one and only eye, so an appointment was arranged for Jackson to be examined by the West Coast Veterinary Eye Specialists.

The specialists diagnosed a chronic eye inflammation that had recently led to a cataract and early glaucoma (increased eye pressure).

A cataract is a loss of transparency in the lens resulting in progressive loss of vision as the transparency loss worsens. Normally, the lens of the eye is as clear as glass. A poorly transparent lens can be compared to how one’s vision would be impaired looking through a misty window. (Approximately 2.5 million Canadians have cataracts of varying degrees of severity).

Chronic eye inflammations are fairly common causes of cataracts in cats. Inflammation of the inner structure of the eye is often associated with viral and infectious causes such as Feline Leukemia, Feline Infectious Peritonitis and Toxoplasmosis. This inflammation can be quite painful as it advances in severity. Since Jackson was originally a stray of unknown background, he likely was exposed to one or more of these infectious agents some time prior to his arrival at his owners’ front door.

Although, as in dogs and humans, cataract surgery in cats is involving replacement of the cloudy lens by an artificial new one is an option in selected cases, the specialists did not recommend this procedure for Jackson because his chronic eye inflammation and secondary glaucoma reduced the likelihood of a positive outcome.

Instead, the specialists recommended a number of eye ointments and drops to be administered up to three times daily for as long as possible, with total blindness very likely to ensue in the foreseeable future despite these efforts.

Now, two years later, thanks to the very compassionate family members who have diligently maintained Jackson’s medication schedule over these past two years, Jackson still has enough vision to be often seen striding along his family’s fence line on “patrol duty” ensuring that no intruders are lurking about.

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