Small cat vet


+/Just had my first morning at the vets I’m at this week. I saw a few consultations. The first was for a cat that needed a new bandage. He had got a nasty gash in the hind leg but now it was healing well. Unfortunately we couldn’t do it without a sedative so the vets took him in to do it later. This worked really well and hopefully he’ll feel much better now. He was given a cone collar to stop him picking at it.

I also saw an elderly cat (17ys) who probably had kidney problems due to her clinical signs such as being thirsty quite a lot. It could also be due to hyperthyroidism. Taking bloods would be able to tell the vet but as the cat seemed to be coping fine and the owner didn’t want to investigate no bloods were taken. She also needed her claws clipping which she really didn’t enjoy.

I saw a cat in for his booster, the booster cats get depends on the cat and things such as whether they go outside regularly in which case they need the feline leukaemia virus vaccine.

I saw 2 kitten spays which were really good to see because I hadn’t seen any since my first vet work experience! The kittens are given a combination of drugs used by cats protection which the vet divides it into 2 because it’s quite stingy. This effectively gives them a sedative premed and anesthetic and they also get an analgesic. Then the operation was quick enough that no gas is needed, although we did use it for the 2nd kitten. The left flank is clipped and made sterile. The skin is incised then the subcutaneous tissue, some fat was removed, then there are 3 layers of muscle the vet incised then the peritoneum. After that the uterine horn is found which can be followed up to find the ovary. A ligature is made above the ovaries tying off the vessels (ovarian pedicle) and just above the cervix to remove the ovaries and uterus. The ligament can be broken with the vets fingers. The vet said some like to remove the cervix e.g. in dogs because of the risk of cancers. One of the kittens had an ovarian cyst which was quite large! I could see the ovaries clearly and the follicles. This was great to see having just done a practical at uni looking at mice and cow ovaries. She was also in season so everything looked slightly bigger and the blood vessels supplying the ovaries and uterus were bigger.

I also posted a blood test for a pedigree cat to be tested by an ELISA test for feline leukaemia antigens or feline calicivirus (FCV).

I also saw the vet deal with a couple who were quite upset as their cat was very elderly and deteriorating. The cat had a growth by it’s colon and was being given corticosteroid drugs as the lump was a suspected lymphoma which sometimes responds to corticosteroids in t

he same way that leukocyte inflammatory reactions can be targeted by them. If the cat hadn’t improved by next week they were going to put the cat down.

Many cases were geriatric cats, for which common problems are chronic kidney disease, hypertension, arthritis and hyperthyroidism. Also many kittens who were in for vaccinations, neutering and microchipping.

I learnt that for worming cats can be given tablets or panacur granules.

The vet told me about a diabetic cat who was getting twice daily insulin injections. They had taken a blood test and it showed that fructosamine was elavated outside the reference range. This showed a blood sugar level average over the past few weeks which was better than using glucose which was much more variable.

I also spoke to one of the vets who had spent 6 months in mauricious volunteering to neuter dogs to tackle the problem of the stray dog population. She said the project was well funded to begin with and had a few vets and it was good to experience a different culture and learn about the differences in animal ownership. It sounds similar to Malawi in that it’s a developing country and dogs are not the first priority. But she said it can be depressing trying to tackle such a big problem and especially now as the project had less support and funding so it felt like their hard work was being undone. Sadly she had to put down many animals because owners couldn’t afford the treatment.

On Tuesday 

I got to see another cat spay this time on a 10 month old cat. There was a possibility she could be pregnant because although she was normally a house cat she had got out a few times recently. The vet thought she might not be because she couldn’t palpate anything but she could be very early in pregnancy. The vet decided to operate via the left flank. She incised the skin subcutaneous tissue and muscle and then the peritoneum. There was quite a lot of fat which is found in all layers (subdermal, in the abdominal cavity) and the operations wasn’t as easy as the previous ones because a vessel in the fat kept oozing. Also the vet had operated slightly further down/the cats uterine horns were very long which made exteriorising the ovaries tricky. 

I also saw a consult with a cat with diabetes type 1. She was doing really well and looking good and just in for her 3 monthly blood fructosamine check up. 


Vet nurses role is also to take phone calls for drug/med prescriptions


Saw another cat come in unable to urine that had an obstruction somewhere in his ureter. This could be due to spasm, mucous plug or little crystals. Luckily it was an easy catheterisation he actually emptied some of his bladder when given the anaesthetic. Also did anaesthetic screening test on him. The condition can be managed well by ensuring they drink enough water, putting them on a special diet also reducing stress if the cause is cystitis. I got to see his urine under the microscope and it contained tiny crystals so a carefully managed diet should help. 


On Wednesday

I got to see a few different procedures downstairs. I saw my first thyroidectomy on a torty cat. The area around the neck is shaved and made sterile. The vet incised the skin and subcutaneous tissue but doesn’t actually cut through muscle bands -because they run up in the neck there’s no need to cut through muscle. This is the same in the abdominal cat spay where you cut through the ct the linea alba and unlike in the flank spay where the vet cuts through muscle (3 bands). It was a unilateral thyroidectomy and before  the op I could feel her enlarged thyroid gland by running my thumb and finger on either side of her windpipe. The vet removed the thyroid and couldn’t find the parathyroid so it may be underneath or became part of the thyroid. 


I also got to see a cat dental. A difference in cats is that they need their larynx anaesthatised for a tube to be inserted into their windpipe.

Then a chinchilla cat was dematted and her eyes were checked. I could feel her fur was incredibly matted. I wonder if it is right for breeds such as these to exist or if it would be better to discourage owners from breeding these cats whose fur is impossible to prevent matting. Is that really right? Or perhaps the best thing to do for now is to ensure owners are responsible and taking care of their cats.

I also got to see quite a sad case. The cat had been adopted at 10 and had developed a runny nose and sneezing all the time. The owners couldn’t afford to insure the cat at 10 and couldn’t afford the expensive diagnostic tests so they had been trying various treatments including antibiotics to clear an ongoing chronic infection in the cat’s eye. They now suspected he had a tumour in his nose and was on chemotherapy. The other vet I spoke to said she probably wouldn’t have started the cat on such heavy treatment without a definite diagnosis. She took a small sample and created a blood film. I could see the erythrocytes and WBCs which should be reduced in this cat, compared to the feverish cat we’d seen earlier that should have raised WBCs.

On Thursday

I got to see 2 kitten castrates. This was the same procedure that I had seen before at the other Scottish small animal vet. It is a very quick operation and the kittens were 4 and 5 months old. The skin of the scrotum is incised followed by the tunic the testes sit in. Then the vet separates the ligament revealing the spermatic cord and blood vessel. The vet uses the spermatic cord to tie off the blood vessel. This reduces chances of bleeding, there’s no risk of rejection as it’s the cats own tissue.

I have also seen 2 demats on a chinchilla cat and a persian. The vet told me more about the persian. This cat was a rescue and had come in in the past with large bladder stones (calcium oxalate ones). They were palpable on examination and the vet showed me the x-ray that had been taken. I could clearly see 3 stones. They had removed these and the cat’s health had really improved and she had been very healthy since then.

I saw the vet deal with problems such as owners not being able to pay for expensive diagnostic tests when things weren’t clear, trying to reach a diagnosis when it’s unclear.

On Friday

I got to see a sad consult in the morning. What had happened was the cat had come in last November and it was now about 1.5 kg lighter. On examination the vet could palpate a hard liver which felt abnormal. The cat had also done a very dark pee in her carrier box. She appeared a little jaundice. It appeared she may have a liver tumor in which case nothing can really be done. The vet made this clear but was very sensitive when telling the owners this and gave the owner tissues when she started to cry. He also said he was hopeful it was some kind of inflammatory condition and that she would improve with the antiinflammatory drug and antibiotics he was going to give her. She was going to be checked up next week. If there wasn’t improvement he said there’s nothing we can really do:(.

I saw a nose X-ray being done on a large 8kg cat called elvis. He had been increasingly snoring so the vet wondered if he might have a mucus obstruction or nasal tumour. The X-ray showed a very healthy nose. This is one that is very symmetrical.

I also just saw a consult with a cat that had a sore eye. She had entropion which was quite obvious in the left eye and slight irritation in her right eye. The vet would operate next week to remove a small bit of eyelid to correct both eyes then out stitches in. She’d need a collar afterwards. Apparently this condition is more common in dogs. The cat also had some old injuries and it felt like she had broken ribs

Also during the week I saw a cat with very strongly suspected herpes virus. The cat had been a very sneezy kitten and had an ongoing runny nose and sneezing. She was also a rescue. The cat had been vaccinated but most likely after becoming infected, and in these cases vaccination is ineffective.

Another really good week! 🙂


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