Monday, May 7, 2012

Spike's Day at the Vet

On Thursday at 11:00pm, Team In-Sync loaded Spike into a transporter and placed him the In-Sync Exotics' vehicle so they could make the 200+ mile trip to Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine.   Traveling at night allows Spike to sleep during the trip, keeping him relaxed and stress-free as opposed to rousing him up early in the morning to make a rushed trip to Texas A&M.  Unfortunately, on this particular trip, Spike decided to stay wide awake for the duration of the trip.  Spike traveled to College Station because the veterinarians who specialize in exotic wild animals have the necessary MRI and sonogram equipment needed to do a full body scan on our boy.

We arrived at our destination around 3:00am, ready to take a quick cat nap until it was time for Spike's medical appointment.  Our cougar, suspicious of his new surroundings, didn't sleep a wink.

We traveled to Texas A&M because we noticed Spike was having troubling walking normally.  At first, his gait did not concern us greatly, since Spike is almost 17 years old, and we thought he might be having some age-related issues.  However, once Spike started to walk around like he had inebriated hind legs, we knew something was wrong.  While Spike had no difficulty running and playing, we noticed he did have issues walking around at a normal pace.

Before our trip to College Station, our local vet checked Spike out and he could not find anything wrong with him.  His ears and eyes were clear, he did not appear to be suffering from a virus or bacterial infection, so our vet recommended a MRI and sonogram exams to find out what was happening to our cougar from the inside out.

At 8:30am that Friday morning, we were anxious to learn what was ailing our cougar.  As you can imagine, preparing our cougar for the sonogram and MRI was a slow process.  Once he was sedated and safe to handle, the vets were able to take internal pictures of Spike, starting with his core body.  First bit of good news we received from the vets was that his heart and kidneys were okay!  Slowly, the vets moved on to his spine and brain where they found the answer to our question.

Spike has two ruptured discs, one found on his neck and the other on his upper spine.

So what is a ruptured disc?  Well, the spine is made up of many bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are held together by ligaments, muscles, and intervertebral discs. The discs act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae.

Intervertebral discs consists of a fibrous outer rings and an inner part that is soft and jelly-like (imagine a jelly doughnut) called the nucleus pulposus.

When a disc becomes diseased, either through gradual degeneration or injury, the thinner top portion of the outer ring tears and disc material displaces into the spinal canal located directly above the disc.

As mentioned above, the spinal cord is located in the spinal canal. A bulging or ruptured disc causes irritation, pressure, or damage to the spinal cord. This causes inflammation which results in irritation, pressure, or damage to the spinal cord.

The resulting inflammation causes back pain, weakness, incoordination, and frequently paralysis. The damage to the spinal cord impairs the transmission of "messages" down the  spinal cord, thus the loss of use of the limbs occurs.

Now that we knew why our cougar was walking uncoordinated in his hind legs, it was time to discuss treatment options with the vets.

There are a couple of options:  bed rest and recovery or surgical treatment.

Spike is being real good today--
he's following the vets' orders
(Monday, May 7, 2012)
Our vet ordered Spike to solitary confined "bed rest" for 4-6 weeks.  He will have no other cougars to play with nor any toys to keep him amused.  He is expected to remain quiet and relaxed in the hopes that the discs will repair themselves.

During his imposed "bed rest," Spike's vet asked us to observe him very closely for signs of Spike's progress or lack thereof.  For now, Spike must take Prednisone, to reduce inflammation and swelling, and pain medication.  Spike will be returning back to Texas A&M in seven weeks so we will be able to give you an update on his progress at that time.

For our new readers, Spike was one of the former Poetry cougars rescued from dire conditions in Poetry, Texas last year.  Out of the four cougars we rescued (Howard, Kane, Chloe, and Spike) only Spike and Chloe are with us today.  Sadly, Howard and Kane passed away because their health condition deteriorated so fast, there was nothing we could do to save them.  

Here is a video of one of the rescued cougar's living quarters prior to his relocation to Popcorn Park Zoo in New Jersey.  This is an example of what Spike's living conditions looked like (after it was cleaned) when he resided at Poetry, Texas:

Additional videos of the Poetry cats' living conditions can be found on our Youtube Channel.

We are anticipating the cost of the Spike's recent visit to Texas A&M will be around $1800. If you would like to make a gift towards Spike's vet bill, we would truly be grateful.  You can make a donation in Spike's name by either check or by making an on-line donation.  Be sure to indicate in the comment  box that the contribution is for Spike's medical care.  Click here to make an on-line donation or for check instructions.  Any donated amount would truly be a blessing at this time--thank you!

And as always, please pray for the improved health of our cougar.  After all he has been through, we hope that he will not have to undergo surgery to correct his health issues.

1 comment:

  1. Poor guy. Bed rest is a drag. You can't even give him a radio or TV or *anything*? (Because, you know, all big cats love their soap operas ^_^)