This is the tale of Patch, an outdoor cat, who would happily spend his days touring the garden, patrolling for mice. One day, while, on tour, Patch was bitten on his tail – perhaps by another cat. The bite resulted in an abscess for which Patch received medical care. Life continued much as normal although he seemed to slow down and was behaving older than his twelve years. Patch seemed to prefer spending his time relaxing in sunny spots around the house rather than roaming the great outdoors. Once bitten, twice shy perhaps.
And, who would blame him?
It turned out this state of lethargy (mental state and change in behaviour) was, in fact, an early sign of illness. Patch’s people had no clue about the meningioma (a benign tumor of the meninges) rapidly enveloping the cat’s brain, and affecting his central nervous system.
Symptoms vary and may include:
- Visual deficits or complete loss of vision
- Confusion or agitation
- Abnormal behavior or mental state
- Uncoordinated movements
- Neck or back pain
His people believed this seeming disinterest and boredom was simply ‘old age.’
Then began an obvious decline in health. Patch became wobbly and weak and “absent-minded.” He fell over a few times; he would start circling and then fall over. It seemed he was unable to get up from the floor even when assisted by his people. He would just fall over.
Regarding the “absent-minded” issue, Patch’s people explain:
He would try to come through doors on the wrong side, thus boxing himself in. The most heart-breaking thing was one morning when we came down. He had gone out through the cat flap during the night. When we opened the door he was sitting out in the pouring rain – he was soaked to the skin. He had forgotten his little night shelter where he would have been warm and dry. He was sitting beside it!
Patch had also been pressing his head into walls. This odd behavior is a sign too few people have learned to recognize as a red flag! Please click to read this excellent resource about ‘Head Pressing.’
Believing the infection (from the bite) had perhaps affected his brain, Patch returned to his vet. An x-ray revealed a white area presumed to be a tumor. Langford Veterinary Services in Bristol was contacted, and Patch was rushed to the clinic that day. Surgery was scheduled with a Senior Clinical Training Scholar in Feline Medicine.
A thorough health history was reviewed including the onset and nature of symptoms followed by a complete physical exam, biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood work. Further analysis included a sample of cerebrospinal fluid, (the protective and nourishing fluid circulating the brain and spinal cord).
During this examination process, it was determined that Patch had lost the sight in his right eye.
Tissue biopsies are frequently used to diagnose meningioma, however, computerized Imaging and scans are the most valuable resource for identifying lesions and their localization.
Patch was the first cat his (local) vet has known to have the surgery. Believed to be, for the most part due to cost.
The situation was daunting for Patch’s people. Add to that the stress of driving nearly four hours, round-trip and to be separated from their companion during the three our procedure and his recovery period. It was agreed that Patch would do better without having them come and go while he was healing as it might confuse him. He might think he was going home.
Imagine having to make the incredibly difficult decision to proceed with surgery or end your companion’s life. For some people, surgery or saying goodbye are the only two (humane) options.
Patch’s people were beyond relieved to have Pet Health Insurance, and there was no question regarding the surgery. They did not have to make that choice.
It didn’t occur to us not to proceed with the surgery. We only realized later how truly grateful we are that we did not have to make that heartbreaking decision
Sadly, most people would have to say goodbye to their companions. The cost of Patch’s surgery plus care and after-treatment was £5,700!!!
I do not regret paying each month for insurance. It is something you hope never to use, and I hope no one else has to. The peace of mind alone is worth it
Surgery is not a guarantee, and the DVM suggested there was a 20% chance Patch would not survive the procedure. For treatment to be considered a complete success, surgical removal of the entire tumor is required, but not always possible. Tumors are not always accessible for surgical removal, and incomplete removal occurs due to the invasiveness of the tumor. Radiation therapy may be recommended in these cases.
Without surgery, however, it was estimated Patch might have two weeks to live. In his current state, his people realized it was no way to live.
The prognosis with successful surgery is virtually complete recovery with at least another two years, but could go on longer. The hospital says Patch will probably die of something else eventually – hopefully old age
The surgery was a success, and Patch was a model patient, even eating a short time after the procedure. He made a quick recovery, with no setbacks.
An update from his people:
We need to buy Patch some toys as he is so playful and full of fun! It is a joy to have the original Patch back. His coat has grown, he’s sleek and glossy, he’s chatting and loving and very obviously well, happy and loving life.
Well done Patch xx