Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Howard's Health Report

Not long after Howard’s photograph hit the world wide web, we’ve received numerous requests for an update on Howard’s health condition.  For those of you not familiar with the Poetry cat rescue, you may want to visit our blog posting titled poetry-in-motion-saving-20-big-cats before reading this article.  

When we first saw Howard, we were concerned with how thin he looked, so we took him to see his new In-Sync Exotic’s veterinarian.  Sadly, Howard (a 10-12 year old neutered cougar) was diagnosed as being emaciated. When he first arrived, it was extremely hard for Howard to eat his food without vomiting. When Howard was unable to defecate he was taken back to our vet for a more thorough examination.  Blood work and other test results revealed that Howard’s intestines had dried up due to extreme dehydration and were not working properly. Hard balls of fecal matter had to be removed by the veterinarian. Howard had to endure a second enema when he had to return to the vet the very next night.  Howard was released to In-Sync Exotics to be monitored by our staff to make sure he could eat, drink, and defecate on his own. Howard was also diagnosed as having a low potassium level.  One of the jobs Potassium is needed for is to help Howard’s intestines work correctly . 

Four days later, Howard finally ate a small meal consisting of one pound of ground beef with mineral oil.  It was slow going for Howard, but he was able to eat and later produced a small amount of fecal matter.  He had been taking two types of antibiotic pills each day and potassium gel shots in his mouth. We knew it would take some time before his intestines function properly again.

Howard was seen by the vet yesterday because he has developed some swelling in his back legs.  Our vet believes Howard may have had a bowel constriction when he lived in Poetry, caused by the consumption of meat contained in plastic bags.  This old blockage may have caused premature death of cells and living tissue (necrosis) in his intestines.  We believe over time, scar tissue built up in his intestines, now making it difficult for fecal waste to pass through his body. The vet believes Howard may have abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath his skin (edema), causing his legs to be tender and swollen.

In order to help Howard’s digestion track, we've added a little mineral oil to his meat again and thus far it appears to be working since Howard had a normal bowel movement last night!  Yea!
Howard was such a good trooper during his vet examination.  The vet was able to check his tummy and teeth, without sedation.  It wasn’t until the vet started examining his legs and tail that Howard expressed discomfort.

Despite the pain Howard must be feeling at this time, his attitude is great.  He likes to explore his new home, but is having some difficulty walking since he is using his hocks instead of his paw pads.  We believe he is walking in this matter because of the discomfort he feels in his swollen hind legs.

And as if poor Howard did not have enough medical challenges, the vet believes he may have a heart arrhythmia (an abnormal heart rhythm).  Another one of our cougars, Keenan, also has an abnormal heart rhythm and is currently treated with Enapril, so if Howard does have this condition, we can treat him.

Since Howard’s arrival at In-Sync Exotics, he has put on some weight.  His hip bones are no longer visible, but his shoulder bones are still somewhat pronounced.

He’s eating like a champ though!  Each night he eats about 2 pounds of meat plus three meaty treats, and two chicken drumsticks – yum!  Howard loves his food!  On Sundays, we want Howard to clean his teeth and work his jaw bones, so we give him a large bone with very little meat on it.  Then, to satisfy his need for meat, on Wednesday we give him a bone with lots of meat on it!

The color and feel of his coat is improving as he has taken an interest in grooming himself!

Howard is not the only cougar from Poetry having trouble “pooping”—Chloe and Spike are having some difficulty as well.  So all three cougars have a little mineral oil added to their meat each day.  Hopefully, we will have an excellent progress report on all three cats in the very near future.

Howard has truly won the hearts of the animal care staff and the volunteers.  He loves to “talk” to anyone willing to listen—and he has such as sweet “voice!”  His favorite scents are fox and raccoon urine and Obsession perfume!

As to Howard’s future?  Well, we hope to integrate Spike with Howard and Chloe once her sutures have healed.  Chloe was spayed yesterday and the surgery went very well.  Currently Howard and Chloe live together, so it will be exciting to see how all three cats interact with one another in the near future.  More on that story later…

For now, all we can do is keep an eye on Howard, making sure he eats and “poops” normally.  If the situation does not improve, Howard may be scheduled for exploratory surgery to examine his intestines more thoroughly.  We will keep everyone apprised of Howard’s medical situation. 

Oh, before we forget, Howard wanted us to let you know that he is “adoptable!”  If you can “adopt” Howard, please visit our Adopt-A-Cat web page for information!  Howard says "thank you!!"

Later this evening:

Great news!  We received word this evening that Howard's potassium level is now within the normal range.  However, it looks like he may still require exploratory surgery; Howard is scheduled for surgery this coming Monday with our vet.  We will keep you posted on Howard's condition.

Monday Morning, August 8, 2011:

Howard's will not have his surgery today. After looking at all possibilities, Vicky and In-Sync Exotic’s veterinarian felt it best to take Howard to A&M next Monday or Tuesday. A&M have better facilities to handle any type of emergency that may arise, and his condition appears to be stable right now.  We will of course monitor him closely, and change the plan if necessary.

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