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Not your everyday tummy upset

Max the cat had been sick, and was refusing food.

After a careful assessment, he was given a simple injection to hopefully settle his stomach, and sent home to recover.

But two days later he still did not fancy his food.

He had suddenly dropped in weight, was still retching a little, and he now had a fever. I was concerned about his hydration. He was admitted into our hospital for rehydration with intravenous fluid therapy.

But that evening he showed us he was more seriously ill than we had realised. He managed to sick up in a manner that can only mean an intestinal obstruction.

At only two years old, we knew that he was statistically most likely to have swallowed something he shouldn’t have.

An x-ray seemed to confirm our concerns, but did not identify a particular foreign item. We knew he had to have an operation.

Under general anaesthetic, our feline expert Jean discovered rather a rare change. Max had an intussusception.

Somehow one loop of his bowel had managed to insert itself inside its neighbouring loop, rather like a collapsing telescope. Intestine does not like this, and the area that is affected becomes one long blockage. Worse still, it tends to stick in this wrong position, and then the blood supply is cut off so that those lengths of bowel start to die.

Max probably had only a few days left by the time Jean operated.

He lost a couple of feet of his intestine, but what was so exciting was his recovery.

Only the next day he was keen to eat again, despite his stitches inside and out. And he seemed to recognise that it was Jean who had saved him. Whenever she passed his hospital bed he rolled onto his back and asked for tummy tickles. This was a different cat to the Max who had arrived earlier.

He is back home and back to normal now. We tried to establish why his bowel behaved that way, and ruled out all the common reasons, so it remains a mystery. But as long as it never happens again, that’s fine.

He now has a special place in our hearts.

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