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"Charlie" - Cat with injured leg

photo of Charlie

Charlie

"Charlie" a cat from Sapcote, was presented to me by his owners because he had suddenly gone lame on his right hind leg. After an initial examination it became clear that there was a wound on his leg below the knee. Usually upon finding such a wound the most common diagnosis is a cat bite injury. These penetrating bite marks very quickly become infected with bacteria and give rise to pain, inflammation and eventually an abscess.
However, in this particular case, I was surprised by the degree of pain which "Charlie" was exhibiting! Whilst our patients cannot speak they can in their own way communicate just how painful it is when the vet examines the "sore bit!" Additionally, the wound was just that little bit larger than you might expect with a cat bite and there was only one hole. Usually there are 2 injuries to the skin corresponding to both upper fangs.
Given my concerns I advised the owners that "Charlie" should be admitted for further examination under sedation. Whilst sedated the affected leg was x-rayed.
x-ray of Charlie's leg showing airgun pelletx-ray of Charlie's leg with magnified section showing damage to fibular bone

From the x-rays it was very clear that "Charlie" had in fact been shot with an airgun and the pellet had broken his fibular bone. The reason for his discomfort was all too evident. The pellet had passed through his leg and was situated below the skin on the inside of his shin bone. A small surgical procedure was performed to remove the pellet and poor "Charlie" was treated with painkillers and antibiotics. Fortunately, since the main supporting bone in the lower limb, (the tibia), was fine no further support was necessary. The tibia acts as a natural splint allowing the broken fibula to heal.

Currently, "Charlie" is doing exceptionally well and will make a complete recovery. Sadly that is not always the case as over the years I have seen quite a number of unfortunate cats who have been maimed or even killed in this cruel manner. Unfortunately, the "season of goodwill" does not encompass everyone!

Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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