Rory’s Unexpected Diagnosis

Rory arrived at Sydney Dogs and Cats Home back in July – a seemingly healthy, eight-week-old stray kitten. It was only when our vet team anesthetised Rory prior to her desexing surgery that they noticed something was very wrong.

Rory’s breathing under anesthetic became laboured and her heart rate increased. Rather than continuing with the procedure the team immediately gave Rory a chest X-ray. The X-ray indicated Rory might be suffering from pneumonia even though she’d not exhibiting any symptoms like coughing or sneezing.

Rory was put into foster care, given a course of antibiotics and a follow-up X-ray organised to determine if the infection had cleared. Three weeks later Rory was in good condition, eating and playing well, but the second X-ray revealed no improvement with her lungs.

With basic pneumonia being ruled out, the team in consultation with other specialists identified several potential causes of Rory’s condition that needed to be considered, one of which was a lungworm infection.

Lungworms are a parasitic worm species that causes severe breathing problems. There are several species of worms that can cause lungworm by migrating to the lungs. The typical symptoms of a lungworm infection include coughing and shortness of breath. Cats can catch lungworms by drinking water infected with worm larvae or by eating rodents or birds that carry parasites.

It is very rare for a cat as young as Rory to have lungworms, but to rule it out the team organised for a fecal test to determine if larvae were present in Rory’s stool. The results came back positive and the team began treating Rory with daily anti-parasitic medication. A few weeks later Rory came back in for her third round of X-rays which revealed that her lungs were becoming clearer and her breathing improved so that she could be anesthetised for desexing.

Rory was in our care and under vet supervision for more than 11 weeks. The team were confident that she would make a full recovery and she did. A playful and affectionate girl Rory, we are pleased to report, quickly found her forever home and is living happily ever after.

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