We first saw Cooper in a terrible state – his whole face had suddenly swollen up like a puffball and he couldn’t open his right eye because of the degree of the swelling there. He had a fever and he wouldn’t eat. He was a very, very poorly cat.
At first we feared for his survival because we thought he had Virulent Systemic Feline Calicivirus – a rare and usually fatal form of a common respiratory virus. But thankfully his dedicated owners were very keen to give him every chance he had.
We kept Cooper in the practice for several days, initially feeding him via a naso-oesophageal tube. This type of feeding tube is easy to place but they are not tolerated well because of the irritation to the nasal passage and so they can only be used short term. Cooper was not keen on his! When the viral genetic PCR tests showed that he did not have Calicivirus and Cooper was holding his own we decided to place an oesophageal feeding tube to continue to feed him longer term. Oesophageal feeding tubes enter the side of the neck and so must be placed under general anaesthetic. The advantages are that the tubes are much larger and wider, allowing for a more solid diet to be fed, and that they are much better tolerated and can be used for several weeks if required. Cooper was much happier with this and actually started to eat small amounts voluntarily shortly after having his placed.
Oesophageal feeding tube in place
Several days later Cooper developed multiple crusty lesions on his head and body, typical of pox lesions, and further viral testing confirmed that he had Feline Poxvirus, a very rare disease in cats. He is only the fourth case of Poxvirus we have seen at 387 Vets in 10 years. The disease is thought to be transmitted from rat bites – in this case Cooper will have been bitten next to his right eye, hence leading to such a severe swelling at this site.
Crusty pox lesion
Cooper is well on the way to recovery and we have no doubt he will be a happy, healthy hunter again soon!