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  • Our vets step in to prevent scruffy stray cat from developing cancer
    • Rescue Stories
    • 18 Mar, 2021

    Our vets step in to prevent scruffy stray cat from developing cancer

    Although many animals who come to us thankfully need nothing more than a safe shelter and lots of love and attention, we are always prepared to go the extra mile for those who require more specialist treatment.

    We were alerted to the condition of five-year-old Callum by a member of the public, who called us to report a stray cat who looked more than a little worse for wear. Callum’s white fur was dirty and scruffy, the skin around his ears was scabbed over and looked extremely sore, and he was clearly in a state of distress.

    Our Animal Welfare Officers took an auto-trap out to where Callum had last been spotted, and luckily managed to catch him and bring him back to our Home.

    Given his unkempt appearance and anxious demeanour, we suspect that Callum had been straying for at least two years, and whilst he was apparently known to a local feeder he obviously hadn’t been able to have any sort of medical care or attention in that time. As well as the sore-looking skin around his ears, we found that Callum had a series of fighting wounds on his back and neck, and bald patches where his fur had been scratched away.

    Our vets were very worried that the scabs on Callum’s ears indicated skin cancer, as white cats with pale skin are sadly more prone to sun exposure – much like humans, cat skin is delicate and sometimes requires additional protection from strong rays if their fur isn’t thick or dark enough to cover them completely.Callum before ear surgery

    As soon as we had finished examining him, we settled Callum down in our Cattery for a few days to rest and relax whilst we booked in a series of surgeries to further inspect and treat his skin and teeth issues.

    Thankfully, a closer investigation revealed that the skin on Callum’s ears wasn’t yet cancerous, but that the redness and soreness was indeed solar dermatitis (a skin disorder caused by exposure to the sun). In order to prevent the affected area becoming worse and potentially developing into carcinoma type cancer (squamous cell carcinoma), we amputated both ear tips so that the sores and scabs were safely removed.

    At the same time, we took a more in depth look inside Callum’s mouth, and found that his canine teeth were all broken. Such damage can cause intense dental pain, and so we removed every tooth showing signs of cracks or breaks.

    Callum white cat

    As Callum was placed under anaesthetic prior to these surgeries, we also noticed an unusual heart rhythm (arrhythmia), and therefore conducted an ultrasound to see if he was suffering from any kind of heart trouble or heart disease. Luckily for Callum the ultrasound came back clear and he remained stable under the anaesthetic, so our vets put the initial arrhythmia down to an adrenaline stress response which could be expected under the circumstances.

    During Callum’s surgeries we also neutered and microchipped him, and did a series of blood and glucose tests to ensure that there was nothing else going on that we hadn’t yet spotted. Happily, all of those tests came back clear, and so we returned Callum to a cosy cabin in our Hospital Ward to recover from his various procedures.

    Although he’d clearly been through a lot prior to coming to us, and had undergone multiple surgeries, Callum’s ordeal sadly still wasn’t over – as we suddenly noticed that his right eye looked a bit watery, and was weeping clear fluid.

    Our vets took another look to see if his tear ducts required flushing, but determined that they were not blocked and that the weepy eye was likely to be a stress reaction and/or a latent effect of a previous bout of cat flu. Thankfully, it was not threatening Callum’s health nor causing him any particular distress, and did not require any further treatment.White cat

    We were all really thrilled to see Callum’s recovery go smoothly and to plan, and as soon as he was well enough to be up and about we placed him into foster care so that he could familiarise himself with a home environment ahead of being listed for adoption.

    Whilst Callum might look rather different with his smaller, blunter ears, we are pleased to say that he is already reserved and should hopefully be joining his perfect family very soon. They will be able to continue showing Callum all the love and special care that he needs, including regularly applying pet safe sun-block to his ears and nose to prevent his issues reoccurring.

    As we slowly shift into the summer months and lockdown eases, we also recommend keeping an eye on your own cats and dogs exposed skin – especially lighter coloured animals – and applying pet safe sun-block if your pet is spending extended periods of time outside sunbathing or exploring.


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    If you have spotted a stray animal in distress, please get in touch with us. The sooner we can reach animals like Callum, the more we can help before it's too late.

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