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Coco & The Shotgun Pellet

6th June 2003


I would like to share an amazing story about my cat, CoCo. Several years ago, while living in Spain, I took in a stray cat. She seemed to be healthy. All I needed to do was have her spayed and vaccinated. For a few years, she had been a very normal cat.

What used to be a very normal cat, has now drastically changed. I no longer have the same cat in a way. Recently, about a few months ago, my husband and I noticed she was walking in circles frequently. We took her to the vet and it seemed to be an ear infection, so she went on antibiotics. It stopped her from circling.

About a month later, she began circling again and when you stand on her right side to call her, she would look to the left, like she didn't know where you were. We took her back tot eh vet, and the vet did see pus in her left ear, so gave her stronger antibiotics. The vet did mention that if she has this problem again in the future, they will need to draw blood to check for toxicity in the blood, because there maybe an underlying reason for these infections. We live in Cuba now, so there are many poisonous spiders, frogs and animals that they can get a hold of.

Well, the next time we needed to rush CoCo to the vet shortly after the last visit was not for an ear infection, but for having multiple seizures in a short amount of time. In one 24 hour day, she had 7 seizures! The vet put her on seizure medicine immediately. Blood was drawn and x-rays taken too. The x-rays seemed to show some sort of tumors (2) in the brain, but the vet had never seen this type before, where it was very opaque on the film. She did some reading and research and called me later to ask if this cat ever had any major trauma to it. I said, "None that I know of." The vet said this looked like a pellet from a Shotgun. I was shocked to hear this, thinking how she could survive this shot to the head and has really been a perfectly healthy cat till now. I said, "I suppose it could have happened before I adopted her."

But, this was amazing! When I adopted her, it looked like she was under a year old, because of her petite body frame. You would think a kitten being shot would not survive this! The wound was obviously healed at that time, because I saw no blood or wound.

The reason she started having seizures now is because the pellet moved down in her brain to a new area that is pressing on a lot of nerves that make her sensitive. It is an area located close to her inner ear drum. There is one small spot on the x-rays that is on the skull, and the vet said that is more than likely where the pellet entered and left a small piece there and the large spot on the x-ray is the pellet and it has moved away from that entry point.

At the last vet visit, the vet drew more blood to check her lead and copper levels in the blood, to see hopefully what type of pellet this is and if it is harming her blood. She also took more x-rays to see if the pellet has moved. It has not and the vet thinks it probably won't. The vet also did something to hopefully prove to us all of the pellet wound- shave her head and neck to find the scar! Amazingly, we could not find one! How could this be? What we did feel under the skin, was calcification on the skull, possibly meaning that is where the pellet entered. If only my cat could talk, then we'd hear the story of how this happened to her and when.

Being on her medicine now, my cat is sleepy most of the day and just isn't her playful self anymore. We have been able to cut back on her dosage so she isn't quite as sleepy. But I'm not sure if my cat will ever be back to her old self like I knew her before. I have been very depressed about the situation, but tell myself that I am very thankful she is alive and I was able to adopt her, because now she has a loving home. I am very mad at the thought that someone shot at this beautiful and loving cat long ago. If only I knew who did this to her, I would like to yell at them about my frustrations. I want her to live as happy of a life as possible and will keep her on the medicine as needed.

My husband and I have talked about her undergoing surgery to remove the pellet, but the vet said it is very risky and costly and we would need to find a specialist. I'm not sure if I could ever put her through the surgery because of the possibility of her not surviving it. Even the best of vets can't guarantee me she'd come out of the surgery alive.

I hope this cat's story touches you about how precious all life in this world is.

Jennifer Lund  

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