We see many remarkable patients but it’s not often that we have a social media superstar as an inpatient – meet the incredibly handsome and adorable Jasper, an Instagram celebrity.
Jasper first came to see us early in the summer when his owner noticed behaviour that for Jasper was unusual. This included frequent trips to the litter tray without passing much urine, going into the shower cubicle and scrabbling around in there and generally behaving oddly. His owner was aware of some disruptions in and around the house and knowing that Jasper was a sensitive sort thought that this might have contributed to his behaviour. After a thorough clinical examination he returned home with anti-inflammatory medicine. This eased his condition for a couple of days but unfortunately he then became unable to pass urine at all – a potentially life-threatening condition so Jasper was admitted to our 24hour Hospital in Storrington for treatment.
It was suspected that Jasper was struggling with Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (or FLUTD). This is a term that is used to describe a number of conditions that affect the bladder and urethra. Often it is not possible to find a specific cause for the problem and these cases can be frustratingly difficult to resolve. Signs include having difficulty passing urine (demonstrated by straining, vocalising and repeated trips to the littler tray), passing urine more frequently and in smaller amounts, passing urine in unusual places, behavioural changes and blood in the urine. A cat with FLUTD may also groom him/herself more than normal to try and soothe discomfort around thereat end.
A complete blockage of the urethra can occur meaning that urine cannot pass from the bladder – this life threatening condition requires immediate veterinary intervention. To make things worse for male cats, their urethras (the tube from the bladder) are long and narrow and are far more susceptible to blockage than those of female cats.
Jasper spent some time in hospital with us whilst we got his problem under control. To begin with a catheter was placed under sedation which allowed urine to flow unobstructed. For a number of reasons urinary catheters cannot be left in place for a long of time – each time Jasper’s catheter was removed he would do well for a day or so but then would have problems urinating again and he would be back to square one. As conservative management was clearly not working for Jasper a surgical treatment was discussed amongst the AVG/SDEV vets and with Jasper’s owner. Although not without risk of post-operative complications it was decided that surgery was the only remaining option that would allow Jasper the possibility of a return to a normal life. His owners agreed to go ahead with the surgery and he was booked in for a perineal urethrostomy.
A perineal urethrostomy procedure is where the surgeon creates a new opening in the urethra through which the cat will pass urine and removes the narrowest part that has been contributing to the problem. In Jaspers case it was discovered that he had an abnormality to the structure of his penis that significantly decreased the diameter of his urethra. This was why he was struggling to pass urine – surgery had been the right decision.
Recovery from this particular procedure takes a while and Jasper spent further time in hospital whilst we monitored his progress and ensured that he was able to pass urine. He had a special feeding tube put in place during his surgery that allowed us to ensure that he received enough nutrition during his recovery. Cat will sometimes not eat when ill or in hospital and receiving adequate nutrition is a vital part of the healing process.
All this time in hospital meant that Jasper became a firm favourite with all the staff involved in his care. Not only is he a very handsome chap to look at but he was also a true gentleman to look after, and loved a fuss and a groom – often lying on his back for a tummy rub. SDEV vet Cameron seemed to be a particular favourite of Jaspers who would purr loudly whenever he approached!
We are pleased to report that Jasper’s recovery continues at home. After several weeks of cautious optimism he can now urinate without discomfort and has regained full control of his urinary habits. For his owners, his 32,000 Instagram followers and all his carers at AVG and SDEV he truly is a superstar.