Jojo becomes a mummy – and February’s Pet of the Month!


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Jojo, a beautiful Maine Coone cat, was expecting her first litter and everybody was excited about the imminent arrival of tiny kittens. Her waters broke around 4am one morning but only a small amount of liquid came away and Jojo didn’t start any contractions or enter labour normally. So Jojo’s owners brought her to 387 Vets as soon as we opened to see if Jojo needed help.

When Jojo arrived she seemed quite untroubled by her predicament! As her kittens still weren’t showing any signs of emerging, we used our ultrasound machine to check on the health of the unborn babies. From the scan, we could see there were two kittens: however, whilst one was moving around and had a clearly visible heat beat, we could tell that the kitten nearest Jojo’s ‘birthing canal’ had no heart beat and had died. This meant that Jojo would need a caesarian section because it is rare for queens (female cats) – and also bitches – to manage to give birth to young that have died before labour begins. The process of giving birth requires a certain degree of wriggling and movement from the baby as well as pushing from mum, and also the release of hormones necessary to kick start the birthing process. Because Jojo’s first-in-line kitten was dead, it was not able to help position itself into the birthing canal and was not releasing any hormones. It was blocking access to the live kitten second in line who would remain trapped without surgery.

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Jojo’s caesarian went very well and, as expected, Jojo gave birth to one live and one dead kitten. There can be problems with queens and bitches feeding their young after caesarian sections but Jojo was delighted with her kitten and has proved to be an excellent mother.

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Ultrasound scanners are invaluable tools in practice – they use sound waves to give a ‘real time’ digitalised view inside animals. We use them as diagnostic aids for a number of diseases, but they can also be used as ante-natal aids for checking on foetuses during pregnancy and for seeing whether unborn babies are alive, as in Jojo’s case.

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