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Paw-ography of “Oozo” Miller 200(1)-2015

By Cat, Geriatrics

I first met “Oozo” in August of 2005. He came to me, wrapped in a blanket, by a concerned neighbor who found him injured in the ditch by our rural home. He was not bearing any weight on his left front leg and had about 16 “oozing” wounds on his head and neck. He had obviously been in a cat fight, possibly because he had not yet been neutered. Neither the neighbor nor myself had ever seen him before and he had no identification to help localize his owners.

Wrapped in his little blanket papoose with my neighbor holding him, I began to investigate his head wounds. There was trapped infection under most of the scabs that had tried to close off the wounds. Dealing with many cats in my daily work, I was pessimistic this cat would allow any type of medical intervention for this painful condition without heavy sedation or anesthesia. But this unknown stranger simply purred and purred as I tended to his wounds. This was no ordinary cat! I was immediately in awe of his trusting and gentle soul. Dubbing him “Oozo”, he lived with me for the next week or so as we searched out his owners and tended with his wounds. To pill him for his antibiotics, he simply opened his mouth. To wash his wounds, he simply purred. Then he purred some more. He always came when he was called, was highly food driven and I swear he was part dog! He greeted me at the door with a humorous hello that sounded more like a monkey “e-e-e-“. And he would try to talk whenever he yawned so it was very vocal. His favorite game was hockey using a wad of paper as the puck.

About day 10, I became concerned that he was still not walking on his left front leg. His head wounds were all healing nicely but if his leg was also due to a cat fight injury, it should be healing at the same rate as his head. So I took little Oozo to Midlake Veterinary Clinic for xrays. What I found was shocking!

Oozo had 10-20 shotgun pellets in his leg with an old, unhealed fracture of his humerus. He had been shot! There was evidence the fracture had attempted to mend, but not with much bone, only fibrous scar tissue. This was not a new injury, but rather many weeks old. And there were no pellets around his skull or neck to explain the head wounds. This was a completely separate issue.

By now, I have fallen totally in love with this cat! I wanted to help him in whatever way I could and I knew that would be a very involved surgery. The Good Samaritan neighbor had located Oozo’s owners who had been searching for their missing friend. His original name actually had been “Lodo” which is very close to “Oozo”, and he was a mighty hunter for the barn and acreage where he lived. Hearing about the extent of his injuries, especially his broken leg that needed re-breaking to attempt repair, or amputation, they graciously allowed me to adopt Oozo permanently into our home. He had extensive surgery to successfully repair the fracture and lengthen the leg, but it would be many months before I would know if he would ever walk on his leg again. How blissful that day was when I saw him “limp” across the kitchen floor for the first time! We played a lot of hockey from then on to keep up his forearm strength. His limp never resolved, but he never acted painful, always used it and high-fived me all the time… while purring of course.

In February of 2015, Oozo began to lose weight. He had been on the new Hill’s Metabolic diet for weight loss for over a year and had a much improved body condition score as a result. But now he was losing too much weight. We evaluated a geriatric blood panel and urinalysis and found he had sugar diabetes. Since cats usually have type 2 diabetes, I attempted a diet change to a special diabetic dry and canned food combination. Unfortunately, his sugar levels remained high and insulin, not just dietary management, was now required. His body could not produce the insulin naturally, or at least not enough. Twice daily insulin given under the skin, he tolerated his treatment well. However, he continued to lose weight, despite good control of his blood sugar levels. He was not eating well, vomiting and having diarrhea, which is very atypical in a well regulated diabetic. Repeat bloodwork and urinalysis showed non-specific protein loss so another physical examination was performed. Sadly, it was discovered that he had cancer. Concerned about his deteriorating quality of life, and potential for pain, Oozo was given his final rest on June 7, 2015, purring until the very end.

Rest in Peace my special, special friend.

Paw-ography of “Murphy” Miller 1995-2015

By Cat, Geriatrics

Murphy came into my life rather unexpectedly. At the very young age of 6 months, she was presented to me as a veterinarian for, of all things, euthanasia. Imagine my surprise when I saw this gorgeous, vibrant kitten with the brightest pink nose, brightest pink toes and the cutest, tiny lynx-like tufts on the fringe of her ears presented before me. When I asked the owners why they were wanting her euthanized, I was mortified to hear “she chases birds”. No thought of keeping her indoors, or trying a collar with a bell to give the birds forewarning, the owners had made up their minds. Knowing that chasing prey was a very natural instinct for all felines, I offered an alternative to the owners. If I could find a new home for this sweet kitten, would they consider surrendering her to be re-adopted? They agreed and she was officially “up-for-adoption”.

My husband, also an animal lover, didn’t even question her becoming a part of our family. He simply went out to the car to retrieve what he thought was “the last bag of groceries” that I needed help bringing into the house. He immediately fell in love with her. Who could resist her? She was so cute and so sweet and bonded very quickly to our other cat, Tabitha and our Labrador, Mia. She was a beautiful brown tabby with some white patches so we named her Murphy after the Murphy Brown character from a popular sitcom playing at that time.

Murphy should have been awarded a medal for bravery when she was a little older. She unselfishly donated her own blood on two occasions to help save the life of another kitten who was very sick. (Being the pet of a veterinarian can be hazardous!) Nowadays, we would do blood typing and matching first to minimize blood transfusion reactions, but 18 years ago, we just hoped for the best. Lucy K. survived and lived to her double digits thanks to Murphy, although her owner felt she was a little feistier than before the transfusions and illness. We joked it was because she had some of Murphy in her.

Murphy was always liked by the staff so if I was away at a conference or on holidays, she would often board at the clinic. She was so used to dogs, a busy reception area full of canines didn’t faze her. With her sweet nature, she would comfortably sit on the top of the reception desk to nuzzle up against anyone who would pet her. As the “official greeter” for Midlake Veterinary Clinic, many clients had an opportunity to fall in love with Murphy and her animated personality.

Murphy lived until she was 20 years old, quite a feat for a domesticated feline. When she was 15 years, and in relatively good health otherwise, she developed hyperthyroidism which was successfully treated with radioactive iodine therapy with minimal side effects. In her last two years, she struggled with chronic kidney failure, arthritis, high blood pressure causing vision issues and finally mental changes. She was a fun and playful cat throughout most of her life and made us laugh repeatedly. She was peacefully laid to rest on June 7, 2015.

You Missed a Spot!

By Cat, Geriatrics

As our feline friends age, hair coat maintenance can become quite a chore. If they enjoy being brushed or detangled, as pet owners we can certainly help. But not all cats enjoy being groomed. Thankfully, most cats do a pretty good job of fur maintenance with regular self-grooming. The tongues of cats are barbed, acting like a hairbrush and allowing tangles to be pulled out. But eventually the act of self-grooming can become more difficult with age.  The hair coat starts to look disheveled and matting begins to affect the comfort of our feline companions. If mats are left unattended, they create regional skin issues that are quite painful so professional grooming may be indicated to ease this discomfort.

Grooming cat (2)The most common reasons for the hair coat to look unkempt and matted in a geriatric cat are:

Dental disease (my mouth hurts)

Arthritis especially of the spine (my back hurts to turn and groom). This is especially noticeable if the front legs and head are still pristine but the ridge of the spine and tailhead is matted.

      Dehydration (from a multitude of reasons)

If you notice your aging pet’s coat is looking more disheveled than in their younger years, a thorough check up can help isolate the problem and help Sylvester get back on track.