Update from Michael Brown - June 23, 2014

Jack finds a new home

Every now and then, an animal will need to stay at a clinic for an extended period of time. Sometimes it is because they are critically ill, but sometimes it is because they are lost or orphaned. Recently, we had two cats come to Temiskaming Veterinary Services for a stay.

The first was a dilute orange medium hair tabby who came to the clinic with a damaged left eye. While a clinic is allowed to examine and hospitalize the patient and treat for pain to ensure they are comfortable, no major procedures can be performed until either the owner has consented or after the clinic has taken ownership. The time it takes for this depends on different municipal bylaws. Here it is three days, but I’ve seen other areas where it is as long as 10 days. This is why having some sort of identification can be so important. Microchips have the advantage that they can’t get lost since they are placed under the skin and they are read using a scanner, but even rabies tags have returned countless lost animals to their homes. I know my dog got out a few times in his younger days, but the good people who found him were able to contact me using his rabies tag. Of course, when an animal gets lost there is always the risk that its collar or tag may fall off, so a microchip is always a good idea as well. In this case, no identification was found. Clinics can make an attempt to find the owner by contacting local radio stations and using social media and in this case, the community responded amazingly as the post on the clinic’s Facebook page received 98 shares, leading to thousands of people seeing he was lost. It seems he was left homeless after his family moved away.

When he came in, a full physical exam was performed and x-rays were done to make sure there weren’t any fractures in his skull, particularly around his eye. Fortunately, he didn’t seem to have any problems other than his left eye. While he was at the clinic, he was treated with metacam and buprenorphine to help with pain. He was also given tobramycin drops to help with any infection that may be in the eye. We also needed to put a cone on him to prevent him from scratching at his eye and doing more damage. We named him Peepers for the time being and he quickly became a welcome part of the clinic, being very friendly and getting lots of love from the staff.

Unfortunately, over three days his left eye wasn’t getting better. When given less pain medication, he was noticeably less comfortable. The eye looked very cloudy and it was difficult to distinguish the different structures, but further testing was necessary. Two tests that we use to determine if the eye is still viable are the menace response test and the pupillary light reflex (PLR) test.

With the menace test, a hand is quickly moved towards the eye, stopping a few centimeters away while being careful to not waft air towards the eye or touch any of the hairs close to the eye. This should cause the eye to blink. However, if there is no vision from that eye, then there will be no response. In Peepers case, he had a weak response to this.

The PLR test is done by shining light into an eye and it should cause the pupil to constrict. As information gets sent from the eye to the brain and back, it crosses back over to the other eye as well so the pupil in the opposite eye should constrict as well. This is called a consensual light reflex. When we shone light into the damaged eye, we did not see this reflex in the opposite eye. So based on this information, the fact that it was still painful and the high risk of future complications, it was decided that the best option was to perform an enucleation surgery to have the eye removed.

Although a lot of people can’t imagine their pet with only one eye (or in some cases, with no eyes), they tend to do extremely well. He’s been adopted now and he’s adapting wonderfully to his new home. He has even received a name change to Jack, after Captain Jack Sparrow to suit his pirate-esque appearance!

The second cat that came in is a tiny little kitten, but this blog has been really long now so to hear about him, you’ll have to tune in next week. Same cat time. Same cat channel. (See what I did there? Neither do I.)

Be sure to check out The Externship Project videos

You are here