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Posted By: Greg - Vet

When a kitten gets caught up in a cat fight…

Cat fights are a common result of a large amount of cats in a small residential area, so related injuries are often seen at the vets. However Freckles’ case was a lot more unusual than most – because of the severity of the injuries, and also because she was caught in the crossfire!

Freckles had only just started venturing outdoors after recovering from her spay procedure a few months earlier alongside her sister Sox, but was effectively still a kitten when she became inadvertently involved in a cat fight. Larger, older cats, most usually the male tom cats, can often be quite territorial which might result in aggression when faced with a similar rival within a small suburban area. Freckles’ owner had noticed some larger cats hanging around outside the house over the last few weeks, and one afternoon a loud fight was heard between two cats. When interrupted by Freckles’ owner, two cats fled from the scene of the attack, leaving behind the injured kitten who had somehow been caught up in it all.

Nervous and frightened by what had just happened, Freckles went to hide under a car, but her owner could see that she had sustained some injuries from the fight. After a call to the vets, she was brought straight down to the practice as soon as she could get coaxed out. Freckles was painful when picked up and it looked like she had a large, nasty wound on her side. Cat fights usually result in puncture wounds from teeth or claws that can then become infected from nasty bacteria in the cat’s mouth or feet and a wound may not initially be noticed until it develops into an abscess a few days later. However Freckles’ injury was clear to see and the severity was particularly unusual.

To everyone’s disbelief, the kitten’s intestines appeared to be visible through a large hole in her side. Understandably she was too painful at first to assess the full extent of her injury, so she was admitted for strong pain relief and once stable, to be anaesthetised so that the wound could be examined and hopefully repaired, but such a severe injury might not have been realistically fixable. Her owners could have been left with a tough decision to make as damaged, infected intestines would leave her condition hanging in the balance.

With a fluid drip started to help her recover from shock, the pain relief and anaesthetic allowed the wound to be checked. Fur was clipped away and blood was cleaned up to confirm that, as well as many puncture wounds and deep scratches to the skin on the side of her body, unfortunately her intestines had spilled through her muscle and skin, in a traumatic hernia, or rupture. This is usually very bad news as the intestines can be very delicate and infection could quite easily set in leading to a condition called ‘peritonitis’ whilst some intestines may have needed to be removed.

Freckles though had had one blessing – the intestines were actually protected by a very thin layer of tissue called ‘omentum’, which hadn’t been torn by the fight – this meant the intestines were intact and clean. Her owners were informed of the better chance of success than first thought and surgery went ahead to repair the damage. The omentum, muscle, and skin that had become damaged and contaminated had to be removed, but all the intestines were able to be saved and put back in their rightful place within the abdomen. The rest of the wound was thoroughly cleaned with a saline flush and it was then clear that the rupture had occurred through her recent spay wound. Careful stitching up was needed with strong suture material to make sure that the hole would not re-open and strong antibiotics were given into Freckles’ intravenous drip.

Freckles then recovered at the practice over night and the next morning was looking fantastic considering her recent trauma - back to being bright, purring and affectionate. She was then able to be discharged back home to her sister with antibiotics and pain relief whilst there was a nervous wait to ensure that her intestines would function properly. Luckily it was a real near miss - she went from strength to strength very quickly and the wound healed very well. Freckles had literally ‘shown her guts’ to recover from her injuries, and now she will hopefully follow her sister and stay out of any fights!

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