Wednesday 13 December 2017

A thorny problem


Owner: Eva Tighe, aged five, from Bray, Co Wicklow

Animals: Maggie, her three-year-old cat

Background: Maggie came home with something sticking out of her paw

Eva's family rescued Maggie from the Wicklow SPCA Sharpes Hill animal sanctuary when she was just a kitten. Eva was only two at the time so, as far as she's concerned, Maggie has been around for ever. Maggie is a gentle, tolerant animal, and she's the perfect children's pet. Eva loves playing with her, and even her younger sister, Robyn, who's just 15 months old, enjoys petting the cat -- obviously under close supervision.

Eva and her cat are the best of buddies and the two of them spend a lot of time snuggled up together.

Last Saturday afternoon, Maggie came indoors after an excursion into the back garden. She jumped up onto Eva's lap, and as Eva petted her, she noticed that something odd was sticking out of Maggie's foot. She called her Dad and, at first, he thought that it was an odd-shaped toe or a damaged nail, but when he looked carefully, he could see what looked like a giant splinter.

It was a long, narrow piece of wood. Maggie must have stood on something sharp in the bushes in the garden, and it had been pushed right into her foot, and out the other side. Eva's Dad realised that the stick had to be removed, so he held one end firmly, and tugged gently. Unfortunately, the stick was firmly stuck. Maggie didn't appreciate his efforts to help her, wriggling and trying to run away.

She didn't seem to be bothered by the piece of wood as long as she was left alone. She could walk normally, and she didn't try to pull it out herself. All the same, it was obvious that the wood had to be removed, so Maggie was brought down to our vet clinic.


When I checked her, the piece of wood was still firmly in place. I gave Maggie a sedative injection, and 10 minutes later, she was sleeping peacefully. I was then able to grasp the wood firmly with tightly gripping forceps. I held her leg with one hand, and pulled the wood steadily using the forceps.

At first, it seemed to be stuck, but after a short tugging match, it came out smoothly enough. It turned out to be the stem of a bramble: it had sharp barbs that had stopped it from being easily removed.

The stick had created two small wounds in Maggie's leg, at the entry and exit points of the injury. I clipped the fur away from these areas, and advised that they should be cleaned twice daily with mildly salty water.

Maggie made a rapid and full recovery from the incident.

She's back to her normal routine already and Eva and her sister continue to enjoy petting their fluffy friend.

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