Reason for Nomination: Persevering despite a serious illness
Squinx is a 2 year old cat who was presented to us as her family was worried about her being lethargic and not wanting to eat. On examination, the vet found that she was painful in her abdomen and had a high body temperature.
She was admitted for supportive care and investigation into the cause of her illness. A blood test found evidence of inflammation. Supportive treatment was given in the form of intravenous fluids, pain relief and antibiotics.
On day 2 of hospitalisation, she still had a very high temperature and was still not eating. An abdominal ultrasound scan was performed. This showed pancreatitis (a painful condition caused by inflammation of the pancreas gland) as well as an inflamed area of intestine with some associated enlarged lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are structures that are part of the immune system and they enlarge in response to a disease process in their local area. Samples were collected from the enlarged lymph nodes using ultrasound guidance as often cells from the lymph node will reflect the disease process they are responding to. Samples were also submitted to test for possible causes of immune suppression such as Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV). Supportive care was continued in hospital whilst we waited for the results.
On day 3 of hospitalisation, Squinx had still not shown any interest in food. A repeat blood test showed a marked drop in her blood protein levels. The drop in protein was due to a combination of the intestinal disease and her not eating. We elected to place a feeding tube called an oesophagostomy tube. This was performed under general anaesthesia. This feeding tube is placed at a site in the neck and runs down the oesophagus. It allows us to feed a blended complete diet.
On day 4 with no clear signs of improvement, we decided to seek the opinion of a specialist. Squinx was taken to the Royal Veterinary School (RVC) for assessment. The specialists at the RVC did not find anything different to what we had found. Results from the viral testing came back and diagnosed Squinx as being FIV positive.
FIV is a virus specific to cats that is similar to AIDS in people and weakens their immune system. This makes them more susceptible to infections and any infection will manifest in a more serious way than in a cat with a healthy immune system.
FIV is transmitted in the saliva and mainly through bite wounds from cat fights. It can also be transmitted from mother to kitten. Unfortunately, once contracted, a cat is then infected for life as there is no cure for it.
Despite the diagnosis, Squinx continued with supportive care at the RVC for another 5 days and by that time had improved enough to be discharged back to her family. They continued her care at home and her feeding tube was maintained in place for another week before being removed.
Squinx has continued to do well at home and her family are over the moon with having their beautiful girl back in top form.
Squinx can continue to have a good life with the FIV infection as in itself it will not affect her quality of life. Her family have taken extra pre-cautions to ensure she cannot come in to contact with other cats for her protection and that of other cats as well.