Tiffany Groves is a 12 year old black and white cat. She was always a really healthy, happy cat, so when she became subdued, and started virtually living under her owners’ bed, they took her to their local vet in Nottingham.
The vet gave her a check over and said her behaviour was probably due to a more dominant cat in the neighbourhood but to keep an eye on her.
Shortly afterwards, the family had Tiffany’s favourite for dinner – fish and chips. Tiffany normally made a huge fuss whenever they ate fish but this time she was nowhere to be seen. Owner Debbie thought this was very strange and was shocked when she went to look for the cat and found her in a terrible state. She was wobbling around and bumping into things. Debbie thought Tiffany must have either had a stroke or gone blind – she thought she was going to die. Tiffany spent the night in a coma-like state at home as Debbie thought that if Tiffany was dying, it would be nicer for her to be at home.
Next morning, Tiffany was still alive so the whole family took the day off work and took her back to the vet, who thought Tiffany had vestibular disorder, a condition that affects the brain’s ability to recognise abnormal body positions, falling and spinning, and correct them. Tiffany was given a ten-day steroid injection and Debbie was told that, if there was no improvement by the following day, she was to bring her back.
Tiffany reacted well to the steroid, and was perfectly well for ten days. However, as soon as the steroid wore off, she started circling again and was unable to control her movements. At that point, the vet referred her to the Animal Health Trust.
When she arrived as an emergency case, Tiffany was seen by neurologist Lara Matiasek, who did a series of tests, checking various reactions, movements and responses. Lara found there was a lack of muscle co-ordination in all four legs, and examination of her nervous responses revealed problems on the left side of the face, including loss of vision, reduced sensation and rolling of her eyes when laid on her back.
Based on these findings, Lara concluded that the main problem was situated on the right forebrain. However, the rolling of her eyes, meant that Tiffany’s problem could also be in the brainstem. They decided the most likely cause was a tumour.
Tiffany then had an MRI scan and a large growth was seen on the brain. Debbie thought that was it, her cat’s life was over, but Lara thought they could do something for her. They talked about benefits and risks and decided to go ahead with surgery. Lara said Tiffany must have a lot of fight in her to still be alive with the huge tumour she had.
“The AHT was brilliant,” Debbie Groves said. “Leaving her there with no-one she recognised was very distressing, but Lara was great. She called us at least twice a day so we were always fully informed about what was going on.”
Tiffany had her brain surgery on 4th March 2008, and recovered really well, with no complications at all.
“Tiffany was marvelous at every stage. She came home after ten days. She wasn’t a very tolerant cat in general but was really patient with her collar,” Debbie said. “She’s been going from strength to strength and is acting like a kitten again, like she hasn’t for years. She’s chasing her tail and playing with her toys, which she hasn’t done for such a long time”
Just recently, Debbie was ill in bed with flu for a week and Tiffany didn’t leave her side all week. “It was as if to say, ‘You looked after me, now it’s my turn to look after you,’” laughed Debbie.
“The Animal Health Trust has been fantastic. I can’t praise them highly enough.”