Over the years, the general level of love, care and the highest degree of knowledge of all of the staff has been invaluable comfort and it’s wonderful that Cave care so much about the human family members as well.

Wayne Cullen

A Patient's Tale

Many people who come to us have pre-conceptions about treatments and understandably find it hard to know whether they are doing the right thing. We always recommend that animals are at least brought to see us before any decisions are made but we felt it may be reassuring for clients to be able to read personal accounts from some of our existing clients. The stories below are from clients who have visited our hospital. It has been a pleasure to be involved with the care of these two characters and they each have problems which focus on different aspects of our referral service.

Cole's Tale

Cole is an 8 year old male, neutered, domestic short haired cat.  He had been missing for 15 months when, thanks to his microchip, his owners had a call from the Vale Veterinary Group at Cullompton on the Sunday before Christmas to say that a kind couple had witnessed him being involved in an RTA and had taken him for treatment. He had a head trauma and a prolapsed bladder and would need emergency surgery.

Cole was rushed to Cave Veterinary Specialists. As he arrived he was going into shock and needed to be stabilised. A great team effort then took place. Heather, one of our surgeons, happened to be in the building (although she was not on call and was on study leave at the time) and she immediately examined him. Salih, our neurologist, also examined him for neurological damage. Once he was stable, Tom took him for a CT scan to assess the extent of his internal injuries.

Luckily, he had no ruptures or internal bleeding but his pelvis was fractured in three places. The priority was to place his bladder back inside his body to prevent infection so he was taken for surgery. During surgery, it became apparent that he also had a degloving injury over his right hind quarter where the skin had been detached from his muscle. He needed a further operation to repair this and rebuild 60% of his rectum. Towards the end of surgery, Cole’s heart rate began to drop so his facial injuries were stapled and he was taken into recovery. He had a catheter in place to relieve strain on his bladder.

The next 24 hours was crucial but luckily Cole proved to be a fighter and he pulled through. At first he wouldn’t eat so a feeding tube was put in place. As the days passed, he began to get stronger. There was a risk that he would be left incontinent so there was much celebration when he passed his first motion! After about a week, his catheter was removed and there was talk of him going home for cage rest. He was now feeding independently too. So on the 30th December, he went home.

It has now been two and a half months since Cole was discharged. His owners have told us that he seems to be very pleased to have warm places to snuggle and regular tasty meals. He has started to go out for short periods of time but is now quite content to stay inside - he was previously a very outdoors cat.

His owners added: "We cannot express how grateful we are to the dedicated nurses and to the vets who cared for Cole all over the Christmas period. Particularly to Heather whose amazing surgical skills have left him completely continent and healed. We always hoped that we would have him returned to us because he was microchipped and now hope that he grows grey and old in the comfort that he deserves."

Shoebill’s story

Shoebill is a neutered male, yellow Labrador cross. His story is a bit different from most domestic pets, because he was a street dog in Ghana who decided to approach a British ex-pat couple for a home. He managed to choose two people, Hannah and Robin, who have grown up with Labradors and love dogs, so they were happy to welcome him into their lives and have been looking after him for two years now.

Tragedy struck in April this year, when both Robin and Hannah were abroad. Shoebill, to everyone looking after him, was showing signs of depression and the conclusion was that it was anxiety due to being left behind. Luckily, Robin decided to cut his business trip short just in case it was something more serious. He returned to find Shoebill very seriously ill. Shoebill was chronically anaemic, which is why he was showing signs of depression and weakness. Robin took him to the vet, but with limited laboratory tests and limited qualified vets, there was no way to diagnose Shoebill.

Due to the rainy season’s high grass, the vets assumed Shoebill was suffering from a tick-borne parasite and gave him a cocktail of medicines.

Meanwhile, Hannah was stuck in England, waiting for her visa, knowing that without a diagnosis, Shoebill’s chances hung in the balance.

After a few more days, Hannah was able to fly back to Shoebill, who had responded to treatment, but was still very ill.
Luckily, it was at this point that they discovered Tom Cave. The expertise he offered meant that Shoebill was diagnosed and therefore treated with the right medication. Shoebill had two parasites – Ehrlichia, a tick borne parasite, and Leishmania, a sandfly borne parasite, both attacking his blood cells. With the dual treatment and the sound advice from Tom Cave, Shoebill slowly recovered. Shoebill has come a long way since those dark days, and is now back to wagging his tail and being the best alarm clock anyone could ever hope for.

“We struck gold when Tom Cave got on the case. An absolute rock for me, and crucial for Shoebill’s survival, we were humbled by his kindness and grateful for his logical expertise. Shoebill is a life-line for me, as a trailing spouse, and I feel incredibly lucky to have received Tom Cave’s help.”