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Julia’s Weekly column for the Middy – The hurt cat

Miracles do happen, even when it seems like the worst case scenario is inevitable

You know that terrible moment when you recognise that things are really bad? I looked into hurt cat’s eye and had that feeling.

He had been rushed into the Clinic by his loving owners as soon as they recognised he had suddenly started screwing up his eye, obviously in pain. They had already shared that money was not growing on the trees in their back garden and were waiting anxiously for my verdict.

Before committing myself I used local anaesthetic eye drops to take away the pain and let me see his eye better, but this only confirmed my initial impression. His eyeball was badly damaged, and needed immediately stitching up by a specialist ophthalmic surgeon or he would probably lose it. It was already partially collapsed having lost some of its liquid contents as the result of an injury.

The hurt cat

I guessed that this had been caused during a cat fight, where a claw might have ripped through the cornea or transparent outer surface of the eyeball. If hurt cat was unlucky this could have seeded infection from the claw into the eyeball, so that even if the repair was successful there was a risk that the eye would quickly fester, causing pain and loss of sight.

The hurt cat’s owners and I talked these risks and choices over. When we had compared the costs involved, they very reluctantly decided that they could not possibly afford the specialist’s fees. Instead we scheduled a probable enucleation the next day, as the most likely procedure that would give him a pain-free outcome for the minimum outlay.

In the morning I was feeling really sad at the prospect of converting him into a one-eyed cat. When he arrived I performed our usual pre-operative check, and suddenly my heart started to lift. Against all expectation his eyeball had returned to its former size – it was no longer deflated.

I could see it much better, as the painkillers I had given him overnight had started to work, and the curving wound to the cornea was at an appreciable angle through its thickness. This had allowed it to knit back to itself, and for the repair to hold even as new liquid (aqueous humour) was produced within the eyeball to naturally re-inflate it.

It was miraculous and completely the opposite to every other outcome of this type I had ever seen before. I was so thrilled. We cancelled his operation, and arranged high doses of antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. I watched that eye like a hawk, expecting at any time to have to pronounce it infected, scarred, painful or damaged, but it went on to heal perfectly. It was a miracle!

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