Lieutenant Dan: To Be or not to Be?

Lt Dan, a feral kitten, who has been through far too much already

“Back in September, a feral kitten was brought to The Cat Hospital after a road traffic accident.  Clare Meade rang the ACS to ask if we could help.  The kitten, who was later named Lieutenant Dan, needed an operation to have his leg amputated.  At the time, Little Red was also waiting for the big operation that would save his life.  Our funds were low and we knew that Little Red’s operation would be very expensive, but the public was helping for it through our special appeal, so we decided to give that other kitten a chance to live and used the remainder of our Clyde Fund (dedicated to RTAs) for his operation.

Lieutenant Dan before his amputation in The Cat Hospital last September

The operation went well and Lt Dan recovered quickly thanks to the loving foster home Maggie and Jim offered to him.  Soon, Lt Dan was running around the place, apart from the odd tripping from his foster sister.

However, worries were not over for Lt Dan who had to be brought back in emergency to The Cat Hospital because an enormous abscess had appeared on his head.  It was emptied and Lt Dan was put on antibiotics.  However, two weeks later it reappeared, and again two weeks later.  It became evident that it could be something serious.  We also feared that the infection would get to the bone and infect the marrow, resulting in poisoning the blood.

Lt Dan falling asleep on Maggie after having had his head cleaned, something that has become a ritual for the two of them.

Clare explained that an operation would be needed to properly clean the abscess, but also take a culture to be sent for analysis so that he would receive the appropriate treatment.  Estimated cost?  €500.  What were we supposed to do?  What would you have done?

On the same day Lt Dan went to The Cat Hospital, Maggie and Jim had to bring another kitten with him.  Billy Bunter had been rescued during a TNR job and suffered from megacolon; a result of being a small kitten in a colony of hungry feral cats.  The chances for him to recover from his condition were slim and it might have also meant a lot more suffering.  We could not inflict that to this poor kitten and Billy Bunter had to be put to sleep.  You may thus understand why we did not hesitate to go ahead with Lt Dan’s operation.  Or you may not if you are cold-hearted.

This post is called “to be or not to be” because too often animal welfare people are left to decide of the destiny of the animals they rescue.  It is a difficult choice and should not be so.  Animals should be loved and treated with respect and compassion by what we call “humanity”, but this is not so, they are left to suffer because too many members of our society believe that their own little comfort is more important.  The ACS believes that if there is a chance to offer an animal a better life, we should take it, so we did and Lt Dan was given the chance to be.

Lt Dan's head after his operation

Today, we are asking you if you could help us with the cost of Lt Dan’s operation.  As you may know, our funds are very low (how can they be otherwise when we have decided to spend whatever we have to improve the lives of animals) and we rely entirely on the public’s generosity.  We have set up a special appeal for you to help Lt Dan.

Again, I am asking you, what would you have done?  It is your choice now and your decision might result in the next kitten who meets our path to be or not to be.”

Necrotic (gangrenous) skin

We have so far raised €115 for Lt Dan’s operations and numerous visits to the vet, not near enough to cover the cost.  If you would like to help, you can donate here.  The donation is set at €2.50, the price of a cup of coffee to offer a cat a better life.

Following this call for help on Facebook last December, we received a different kind of offer: Emma Robertson (Veterinary Physiotherapist) offered to do laser treatment on Lt Dan’s head.  As Lt Dan’s abscesses keep coming back and that we have no idea why, Maggie and Jim decided to go ahead with the treatment.  Lt Dan went for his first session yesterday and here is Maggie and Jim’s report:

“On Sunday, 16/01/12, Lt Dan underwent his first laser treatment. At this stage things with Lt Dan have got desperate: countless trips to vets, numerous examinations, several operations from which tissue was taken and sent for cultures to be grown, and no result. Lt Dan’s recurring abscesses have proven to be a complete veterinary mystery. There is no detectable infectious agent present. There is nothing that can be eradicated through the use of antibiotics. But still the abscesses pop up, and out, on poor old Dan’s head regularly. The only treatment that could be offered to Dan was the nightly removal of the scab and bathing the abscess with salt water in order to keep a channel clear so any puss could exit the wound areas. This was far from an ideal method of dealing with Dan, who had already suffered a great deal in his short life. It was also becoming obvious that all this ‘pulling and tearing’ at Dan was having an adverse effect on the cat’s wellbeing and he was starting to exhibit signs of stress.

Wound before treatment with the scab removed

During the course of our last Facebook appeal a lady called Emma Robertson contacted the ACS and offered to treat Dan with laser therapy. Emma, who is a chartered veterinary physiotherapist, also specialises in a range of holistic therapies and very kindly offered to take the problem of Dan’s abscesses on. So Lt Dan was marched (unwillingly) into the car and over to Tower to see Emma. The actual treatment took a matter of minutes and involved no intrusive or painful procedures that would stress Dan out even more. Emma has a portable laser generator and she merely took out a handset – it looks like a small torch with a right angled head – and held it over the abscess on Dan’s head. The laser light is red in colour and within a few minutes of beginning it was all over and Dan was back in his cage glaring at everybody.

Today (Monday) the early results look promising with no significant discharge from Dan’s head wound; the first time this has been the case in quite a while. The wound itself looks a lot drier and more healthy than it has been. Dan is due to return to Emma for further treatments, spread over the next few weeks. We are very grateful to Emma for her kind offer to help Dan as both ourselves and Clare Meade are baffled by Dan’s refusal to get better. Emma does work for the Donkey Sanctuary and is no stranger herself to animal welfare. She can be contacted from her Facebook profile.”