We’re proud sponsors of National Pet Month! Supporting the theme, ‘Pets and the Elderly: enjoying later years together’, we’re helping some of the older rescue dogs out there have an even bigger voice and hopefully find themselves a ‘forever’ home.
Kubla – my problematic rescue
When Sue Chase from the Burmese Cat Club and BCC Benevolent Fund took in six-month-old Kubla, she had no idea that he was suffering from MRSA. After one year, a lot of veterinary treatment and heaps of love and affection, Kubla was finally well again and found his forever home.
Sue tells the story of his path from serious illness to a loving home…
As kittens, Kubla and his litter sister had gone to their new home. All seemed well apart from a small scratch on Kubla’s head. He had this before he left his breeder and it was assumed that it had been inflicted on him by one of his siblings.
When his new owners got in touch with me, the first pictures I received didn’t look too bad, but his owner told me that every time he shook his head there were great clouds of scabs and lots of blood.
A moment of panic put the thought of ringworm into my head but I was reassured by the owner’s vet that all the tests were negative and it was thought to be some sort of food allergy.
Clearly the owners couldn’t cope with the mess, especially as there were two young children in the house, so Kubla came to stay with me.
The small mark on the top of his head had become extensive lesions on his neck and in his ears. He constantly scratched and yes, there was blood and scabs flying all over. I didn’t know what to do with such a young cat; clearly he couldn’t go in one of my safe houses as they are 100 feet away at the bottom of the garden. He’d never been on his own, so I broke all my rules and installed him in a kitten pen in my sitting room. After all, the vet said he wasn’t infectious.
He was such an affectionate cat with a superb personality and he loved lying on the sofa with me watching TV, although he did go back in the kitten pen when my own cats were around. My vet was puzzled by his symptoms and we tried all sorts of antibiotics, steroids and prescription food, but he just got worse. Eventually we went to see Katarina, a lovely Swedish dermatologist at the Royal Veterinary College. These are the first pictures she took of him.
In spite of his discomfort he absolutely adored all the attention from Katarina and her team of students. He purred and scratched constantly through skin scrapings, swabs, blood tests and painstaking exams from five final year students. He was in his element!
I gave a detailed history and answered all the questions as best as I could. I was however puzzled when Katarina asked me if I had been in hospital recently. I confirmed that I had just been in Addenbrookes for a couple of days but not to worry as I was negative for MRSA. We all laughed!
After a couple of hours we came away with a whole batch of medication; mainly steroids, antibiotics and antihistamines. I was also advised to feed him an all meat diet such as freshly cooked rabbit or duck – not an easy task for a vegetarian. However we persevered and went back for several more appointments. In an effort to stop him from damaging himself I put a soft buster collar on him and the vet students applied plastic nails over his claws. It didn’t take him long to remove those!
Eventfully I got the phone call telling me that he had tested positive for MRSA. I was totally amazed as I didn’t realise that cats could catch it. Just a few days later there was a scare-mongering story in the national press warning owners that they could catch MRSA from their pets. It is in fact the other way round as this is a bacterium that lives on humans.
MRSA is a particular type or ‘strain’ of staphylococcus aureus that does not respond to many antibiotics. These antibiotics include methicillin, which is a type of penicillin. So the letters MRSA stand for ‘methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus’.
I admit that I went into slight panic mode for a while, especially as one of my own cats caught it from him. I missed a few shows I had entered and stopped queens from coming to my studs, just to be on the safe side.
After a couple of months of treatment I took some swabs and asked my vet to have them tested – I was reluctant to take the cats into the surgery. Fortunately they came back negative. A couple of months later, Kubla went to my vet to be castrated and swabbed again. By this time he was nearly 18 months old.
I’m delighted to report that he soon went to live with a lovely couple not far from me and is being spoilt rotten. These people have had three rescue cats from us in the past and still have an 18 year old female Burmese. She was lonely following the recent death of her companion and adores Kubla. He has the household firmly wrapped round his paw!
I shed more than a few tears when he left home; he had been with me for just over a year and we had been through so many ups and downs. I’m often asked where he could have caught it and to be honest I really don’t know.
MRSA is a danger to anyone with an open wound so I assume he was susceptible because of the small scratch on his head. Perhaps it was from the veterinary surgery when he had his vaccinations or microchip. How many vets test their staff for MRSA? I know that mine does but I also know that the RVC doesn’t. I can however say that I was tested a couple of times after his diagnosis and I was still negative, so it doesn’t seem to be that easy to pass on. I was careful though especially if I had scratches on my hands.
I said at the beginning that I broke the rules with Kubla when I let him into my house. Hindsight is a great thing but even if I had known what was going to happen, I could not have left him on his own at the end of my garden. Kubla was such a rewarding cat to look after and I would not have done anything differently.
Agria for charities and rehoming centres
Kubla got his happy ending, but for the thousands of pets without an owner, we’re doing what we can to help rehoming organisations find them their new ‘forever’ home. We’re giving adopters 5 Weeks Free insurance followed by the reassurance of lifetime cover, whatever the pet’s age.
If you are involved in a rehoming or rescue organisation, Agria has a selection of options that can help. For more information please visit www.agriapet.co.uk/rehoming