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"Rupert" - 17 yr old cat survives dog attack

The treatment of old patients can pose a very difficult dilemma for a lot of owners. Is it worth it? How much longer are they going to live anyway? "I don't want to put them through anything for the sake of it!" All genuine concerns and questions which are not easy to answer.

So when "Rupert" Evans, a 17 year old cat from Burbage was brought to my surgery close to death these issues had to be raised.

Unfortunately, as he was no longer as quick as he once was, he had been caught and brutally savaged by 2 dogs. It was clear that his injuries were very extensive and he was in a great deal of shock and pain. The decision to attempt to save his life was made by his owner on the agreed basis with myself that if at any stage of treatment we felt that we were wasting Rupert's time we would "put him to sleep." Treatment was only initiated on the basis that we had a realistic chance, albeit slender, of "Rupert" returning to good health.

Firstly we tested his 17 year old organs (liver and kidneys) to ensure that his body had a fighting chance of success. Then, after connecting him to a drip and starting medication, he underwent a 2 hour operation, with Ingrid and myself, in an attempt to repair his broken ribs, collapsed lungs and tears in his chest and diaphragm.

Drains were inserted into his chest to avoid fluid accumulation and help to control infection. Additionally, on his recovery from his anaesthetic an additional tube had to be placed in his stomach through his nose to feed him whilst he was so debilitated.

Almost a week later a second operation was required to close three large muscle tears in his abdomen. The day following his second procedure Rupert began to eat for himself a most gratifying sight indeed to all the staff who had cared for him throughout.

Eleven days after his original injuries Rupert was discharged. Whilst it is likely Rupert's recuperation will take a little longer yet as some of his skin injuries will require further treatment he has essentially survived his ordeal is eating well and starting to enjoy life again.

Was it worth it?
To the staff at Fairfield most certainly yes, having the opportunity to successfully treat a patient like Rupert is the reason we turn up to work in the morning. Was it worth it to his owners? Unfortunately, not being insured has meant they have had to spend a considerable sum of money but since "Rupert" has otherwise been healthy for his 17 years it doesn't seem quite so bad when you stretch it over that time span. Was it worth it for "Rupert?".........well you'll have to ask him!!!!!!!

Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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