Braveheart of the Year: Delilah

We are pleased to announce that Delilah was voted Braveheart of the Year 2010. Thanks to all of you who voted for a very well deserved winner!!!

Here is her story...

As I sit here, about to write up Delilah’s story, it really isn’t easy to know where to start! I will though, by telling you that Delilah is a sweet tempered, gorgeous little black and white long haired cat who has never done any harm to anyone... why someone would decide to shoot her is beyond our comprehension!

Delilah’s owners noticed she was unwell when they returned home. They found her lethargic and with traces of blood on her belly. She was immediately brought down to the surgery and examined by vet Ian, who found a circular wound, with entrapped hair on the left hand side of her chest. She had a low temperature (one of the indications of shock) and her chest sounded as if there was evidence of air entry.

Delilah was admitted to the hospital and radiographed immediately. Sadly Ian’s suspicions were correct - Delilah had been shot with an airgun. The pellet was in the right hand side of her body, even though it had entered on the left hand side. It was not entirely clear if it had stopped in her chest or her abdomen. Immediate further investigations with the ultrasound scanner showed that she had fluid on her lungs, her heart was slightly collapsed under the pressure of this fluid and her blood tests were showing a couple of worrying abnormalities. It was decided to treat Delilah’s shock, stabilise her, make sure her pain was managed properly and carry out necessary treatment until she was in a better physical state to be able to cope with it all.

Daily medications, ultrasound scans and 24 hour intensive care slowly started to improve Delilah’s state of shock and repeated blood tests helped the veterinary team to decide what the best course of action would be and whether it would be safe to operate and remove the pellet from Delilah. Six days after she was first admitted, the decision was made to operate. Delilah was in a much better state physically but was certainly not 100% and this problem was not going to go away by itself.

Vet Luke operated and removed the pellet which had, by all accounts, done a lot of damage to poor Delilah. It had entered the left hand side of Delilah’s chest and travelled down through her diaphragm (the muscle that separates her lungs and heart from her abdomen). It then passed through her liver, damaged her bile duct and then embedded itself in the right hand side of her diaphragm.

By far the biggest injury was that Delilah’s bile duct had been irreversibly damaged. This duct carries bile from the gall bladder down into the small intestine and without it working properly, Delilah would be in big trouble. Luke decided to bypass the damaged bile duct by stitching the gallbladder directly to the small intestine so that the bile could enter directly. This in itself is a complicated and dangerous procedure, without all the other damage caused by the pellet. The surgery was fiddly and lengthy. Luke also closed both holes in Delilah’s diaphragm and flushed the whole of her abdomen with warm sterile saline to remove any offending pieces of debris and hair that had been brought “in from the outside” with the pellet. The next few days were going to be absolutely critical.

Delilah stayed in for a week on a drip until she started to eat well for herself. She was a little minx with her tablets and so, where possible, we gave her injectable medications. She had slight jaundice for a few days, which the veterinary surgeons kept a good eye on but felt it was not too much of a surprise considering her ordeal. She was doing really well and was sent home but her owners had to bring her in twice a day for her medications, which they did religiously! Delilah continued to do well at home but started to develop some swelling in her abdomen. She was admitted for a couple of days to investigate this and was found to have peritonitis, an inflammation of the inside of her abdomen. This was treated and again Delilah was sent home but brought back twice a day to be medicated by the nurses.

Every day her temperature was taken morning and evening, her abdomen measured and her pills administered. Finally, just last week, a month after first being presented, all treatment was stopped.

Delilah is just such a classic Braveheart case and so was an easy choice when it came to decide who should win this month. Everyone has been highly involved in her care, including very dedicated owners and for a while it really was touch and go. We are delighted that she has made such progress and I know I speak for us all when I say how much we would love to get our hands on the people who go around shooting people’s beloved pets with airguns! It really does beggar belief!

Congratulations Delilah, a very well deserved Braveheart.

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