Review of case Ref: 46140
Freedom to live and fight or security being confined to an apartment?
This male stray cat had a choice. Freedom anytime and anywhere. He would roam and come back ravenously to gobble down his cat food inside the caregiver's house. But on May 17, 2018, the cat would not eat for the past 2 days, despite treatment 2 days ago by Dr Daniel of Toa Payoh Vets. The worried community cat carer took him to consult me as I was on duty. .
May 17, 2018
His name was Ginger and he always had a ravenous appetite when he returned home from roaming. But on May 17, 2018, he was anorexic. "His right face is swollen," I showed the caregiver who did not notice this. "His right ear is filled with black secretions and it is very painful because he moved his head away when I touch his ear. Fortunately, he does not hiss or claw." See video.
May 17, 2018
FIV/FeLv negative which was good news.
Only abnormal finding was low platelet count. It was 279 (300 - 800)
"What causes his anorexia?" the caregiver was very worried. She said the cat had gone roaming yesterday.
"Most likely the intense pain in his right ear particularly and infection of his swollen right face from cat fights and clawing," I deduced from the cat's resentment to my palpating and scoping his right ear.
I reviewed another blood test done last month on Apr 24, 2018.
Apr 24, 2018
The only abnormal finding was a very low platelet count. It was 90 platelets per microliter of blood. (Normal range is 300 - 800). Dr Daniel had treated him for swollen front legs and limping on the left fore leg. He had a fever of 40.2C. He weighed 6 kg.
A low platelet count is known as thrombocytopenia. With not enough platelets in the blood, the body cannot form clot to stop bleeding when the skin or body is injured.
Normally, the cat has 300,000 to 800,000 platelets per microliter of circulating blood.
Thrombocytopenia can be caused by 4 conditions:
It can be inherited. The spleen which fights infection and filters unwanted material from the blood traps the platelets. Decreased production of platelets can be due to viral infections like FIV, FeLv. Increased breakdown can be by severe bacterial infections in the blood (bacteraemia) or auto-immune diseases.
This cat developed a fever and probably had a mild viral or bacterial infection from cat fights.
May 15, 2018
Before I saw him, Dr Daniel had treated him on May 15, 2018 for lameness in his right hind and irrigated his dirty ears. He weighed 6.3 kg. No fever. Rectal tempwas 38.5C. But he would not take the oral medication and the owner came on May 17, 2018 when I saw him at 5.9kg, 38.0C and was anorexic for 2 days.
"He is still active, but will not touch the Fancy Feast canned food or the dry food, unlike his usual wolfing down the food given!" the caregiver was very worried.
The cat had severe painful ears and could not chew his food but a cat cannot tell the caregiver.
I sedated and clipped his right swollen face. A long white scar streaked from bottom to top (see image). He was battle tested and had a very thick skin such that the use of the blood collection needle had to be thicker.
"Why didn't you neuter the stray cat earlier?" I asked her.
"Very difficult to get him inside the crate," she replied. "But somebody had him neutered when he was missing from Apr 5 - 13 recently! Could this person be the other caregiver in the neighbourhood?"
"It is possible he could have strayed to another neighbourhood and got trapped," I said. "To prevent him from making other female cats pregnant or to reduce his urge to be territorial to fight with other tom cats. He has the built and bravery to fight other tom cats."
"He still has the urge to go out roaming," she said.
"Neutering will remove the male hormones but there is still the residual hormones which will decrease over the next 2 months. After that, he is more homely."
"He has less inclination to go roaming nowadays," she said.
I reviewed his history of treatment and this is as follows:
Aug 12, 2015. Wound cleaning.
Jul 27, 2017. Wound cleaning.
Apr 24, 2018 Swollen both fore limbs and limping left fore leg.
May 15, 2018. Right hind leg limping.
|The right facial swelling is an old abscess. Scar shows the cat scratch injury.|
On May 20, 2018, I text-messaged the caregiver. The cat had started to eat the wet food and she was relieved and happy.
May 19, 2018 10.54pm "Hi, Is Ginger eating today?" I texted-messaged the caregiver.
May 19, 2018 11.07pm "Hi Dr Sing. Yes. Thank you so much. Ginger's appetite is much better today. Able to eat packet food. No dry food yet. Started ear drop and antibiotic today."
|Started to eat wet food on May 19, 2018|
I had prescribed the liquid antibiotic instead of the tablets and the cat should find this more acceptable.
With the neutering done by the kind soul, this cat should be healthier, safer at home and live to a ripe old age. No more wandering and getting poisoned by environmental toxins, causing a low platelet count. He could be killed by cars or cat haters.
|His left ear tip was cut, showing that he had been neutered when he was missing in April 2018|
"I did research on the internet," the caregiver told me. "There are 2 types of feral or stray cats. One type avoids human contact as they don't trust people. The other type, like this ginger stray male cat is affectionate and will not claw people. Most likely, he was abandoned."
"How old is he now?" I checked his medical record of being treated for cat fight wounds for a few times. "I don't really know," she replied.. "Dr Daniel estimated 6 years of age."
She or her friend would bring in the cat for wound treatment as the cat strays into her house for food.
Freedom comes at a price for stray cats. A shorter exciting life of cat fights and get infections with a contagious feline disease like Feline Immunodeficiency Viral (FIV) or Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLv) for which he was tested negative.
The town council officials do engage pest control people to trap stray cats that are then put to sleep.
People wbo hate cats poison them. Car traumatic accidents may kill or injure the cat running across the road.
"Once, another tom cat came into my house and both of them fought, somersaulting and hissing," the caregiver said. She had to quickly separate them.
There are many risks in being a stray cat. However, many strays do not want to stay home alone. In this cat, the caregiver permits him to roam during the daytime and confine him home at night. That is his lifestyle nowadays.