The amazing Holly

Our seniors program has resulted in many patients having problems detected much earlier than previously, and it is not uncommon for our patients to live well in to their twilight years. For example, we regularly see cats that are over 18 years old. As we are rapidly nearing the colder months, more and more of our senior citizens (of the feline and canine variety) are having trouble with being stiff and sore as a result of on-going arthritis issues.

Arthritic joints can have sudden "flare ups," when elderly patients get a bit over excited and think they are still kittens or puppies! One such kitty is a 19 year and 7 month old tabby called Holly who came back inside from a short jaunt outside, with a limp and a swelling on the inside of her left knee.

It is often difficult to differentiate between an arthritic joint that has become inflammed and other more serious problems such as a bone tumour or a rupture of a ligament within a joint. A sedation, examination and xray will often be able to give us a clear indication of what the problem is and what treatment is required.

Holly was given an opioid pain relief injection after her initial examination and was sent home with strict instructions to rest, with a plan of not having breakfast the next morning and returning for a light sedation, examination of her joints and an x-ray. Thankfully the x-ray did not reveal anything sinister, with clear evidence of arthritis being present and no indication of a bone tumour or cruciate ligament rupture (the stabilising ligament in the knee joint).

Holly also has problems with her kidneys, which needs to be a consideration when creating a treatment plan to ensure minimal ongoing damage to her kidneys while allowing her to have adequate pain relief. In discussions with Holly's lovely owner, it was made clear to us that Holly's quality of life was of the utmost importance. It was decided to add in an anti-inflammatory at a very low dose to reduce damage to the kidneys, but to allow adequate pain relief. Holly had been regularly having pentosan injections (which help recoat the cartilage in all joints of the body, and increase the viscosity of the joint fluid,) and she will continue to have monthly boosters of these.

When Holly was rechecked one week later she was feeling a lot more comfortable as she had been limping less and had also gained some weight, a sign that she is happier and eating more.