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The Case of the Mysterious Parcel next to the Bed
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Mon Apr 26 2010, 06:23PM

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Net Vet Newsletter 9

This veterinary newsletter is written by Dr Gerry Retief, the owner of a veterinary hospital in Durban South Africa. In these newsletters you will read about some interesting cases and how they were resolved.

The Case of the Mysterious Parcel next to the Bed

When Millie McGuire brought her magnificent Persian - with the unlikely name of Felicity Bainbridge - in to see me, I could see that she was very upset and almost in tears. Before I could ask her what the problem was, she told me that her husband Bill was furious. That morning Bill had as usual swung his bare feet out of bed and felt a wet, slimy, grey object under his right foot. He gave a rebel yell and fell back onto the bed to inspect the disgusting object adhering to the sole of his foot. It looked a bit like a dead slug, but on closer inspection it seemed mostly to consist of hair covered in slime. He scraped it off with a piece of toilet paper and presented it to Millie.

Millie's face crumpled with disgust as she handed the mysterious parcel to me: "Bill blames Felicity for this. He says she must have brought it up and deposited next to his bed on purpose to aggravate him!"

I knew that Bill was a 'dog-man' and couldn't stand cats, even one as beautiful as Felicity Bainbridge.

Struggling to keep a straight face I said, "Millie, I'm afraid Bill is right. This is a hairball brought up by Felicity, but I'm quite sure she didn't do it on purpose! Anyway, let's have a look at Felicity and I'll see what we can do to prevent this from happening again."

Millie took Felicity out of the cat carrier and put her on the table. I could immediately see that Felicity was not her usual beautiful and disdainful self. The scowling expression on her face caused by the foreshortened nose and lowering eyebrows looked even more forbidding than usual. Her startling blue eyes looked suspiciously straight into mine as her expressive tail swished her disgust at being subjected to the indignity of a veterinary examination. I could see that her long hair was not as shiny as usual and that she had been licking along both sides of her chest and abdomen. When I palpated her abdomen, she hissed and growled at me. I could feel some lumps in her small intestine.

"Has she been coughing lately?" I asked.

"Now that you mention it, yes, she has. Actually, it was more like retching than coughing." Millie answered.

"When was the last time you treated her for fleas?" I enquired.

"Oh, Felicity doesn't have fleas! I examine her body every day while grooming her and I've never seen a flea. Besides, she had her six-monthly Program injection for fleas about three months ago!' she said almost indignantly.

"We'll see about that!" I said. "Program injections work well to sterilize the eggs of fleas, but you still have to control the larvae pupae and adult fleas! Cats are champion flea catchers so sometimes you won't see fleas because they've all been eaten up by Felicity! I'm going to do a very accurate test to see if Felicity has had any fleas on her in the last ten days."

My assistant brought me an A4 piece of white paper and I wet it thoroughly in my hand basin. Then I took a flea comb and ran it through her fur. It looked as if Millie was right, because I couldn't see any live fleas on the comb. I tapped the comb a few times on the paper and some small black spots appeared. Spreading red stains soon surrounded these spots indicating that they were actually flea droppings. (Flea droppings consist mainly of blood).

I pointed out to Millie that there must have been at least one flea on Felicity in the last ten days. "She's so fastidious that she can't stand a single flea on her, hence the constant licking and the development of hairballs."

I immediately put Frontline Plus on her neck and told Millie to do this once a month throughout the year.

I also prescribed a very palatable oil-based paste in a tube (like a toothpaste container) called Animalax to be administered daily. (This would lubricate the inside of the intestines to facilitate the passing of any remaining hairballs). Because I knew Felicity was a bit resistant to being dosed with anything, I suggested that Millie should smear the correct amount on both front paws. Being the fastidious lady she is, I knew she'd lick it off and get it into her system. I also suggested that Millie should change Felicity's diet to a special one that would trap the fur and transport it out of her system without causing hairballs to form. I gave her a number of alternatives such as Hills Hairball Control and Iams Plus Hairball. In the end she settled for a special diet specifically formulated for Persian cats by Royal Canin scientists. The pellets are of a special shape to make it easier for Persians to pick them up and eat them. (Persians find it very difficult to pick up and chew 'ordinary' pellets). This food also prevents the formation of hairballs.

Three months later it was time for Felicity's 'shots'. When she came in, she was her old self again and her coat looked healthy and shiny. Bill can now safely get up out of bed, without any risk of stepping on mysterious slimy objects!

[ Edited Mon Apr 26 2010, 06:25PM ]
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