UT-VMC emergency room tails: Outmatched

UTVMC COLUMN HEADER  2By Dr. Amanda Rainey

My Friday night shift at the UT-VMC ER had started off fairly busy, and just as we were getting a respiratory distress case stabilized and set up in our ICU another emergency page sounded overhead.  One of my students quickly made his way up front to assess the patient, and when he returned I judged by the amused look on his face that it must not be too serious of a situation.

“What’s the story?” I asked him as he finished up some details on the patient’s physical exam sheet.

“Well, it’s a dog that was attacked by two cats.  He has some scratches but otherwise seems ok.”  The student couldn’t hide his amusement and let a chuckle escape after his statement.  I had to laugh a little too, since we often see dogs that have been attacked by other dogs or even cats attacked by dogs, but this was a first for me.  

It turns out that little JR, a Chihuahua mix, had been assaulted by the cats while staying with friends of his family, as his owners were out of town for the week.  He had been around these cats several times in the past without incident, however this evening they had decided to display their displeasure at having him in their home.  All had been well earlier in the day, as the cats would walk into a room and seeing JR give off a fierce hiss, then quickly sprint away.  Then while the pet-sitter was preparing supper, the cats made their move.  She detected a blur out of her peripheral vision as the two cats pursued JR, who was running as fast as his little legs could take him searching for an escape route. The pet-sitter then described hearing a high-pitched scream emanating from the guest bedroom, and when she went to check on JR she saw him cowering in the corner with both cats on the offensive.  They had struck him on the right shoulder and under the chin, and stood prepared to deliver another round of punishment if provoked.  Luckily for JR, the cats’ owner was able to corral them into another bedroom and confine them there, and then concentrate on taking care of JR.  The pet-sitter was badly shaken, and her voice trembled as she detailed seeing the blood coming from JR’s wounds.  

After speaking with the pet-sitter I took a look at JR.  He had some dried blood on his right shoulder and a small amount under his chin on that same side.  He seemed very frightened, and was trembling during my entire examination.  We clipped the hair covering his wounds and discovered one small puncture at his right shoulder, most consistent with a penetrating cat claw. The other wound was just a small abrasion.  We cleaned the wounds thoroughly with surgical scrub solution and tried our best to comfort JR, as he seemed not only terrified but also embarrassed by his ordeal.  He was sent home on a short course of antibiotics just in case as well as a mild anti-inflammatory for a few days.  My student and myself had a sneaking suspicion that perhaps JR wasn’t as innocent as his pet-sitter thought in this incident, and as we discharged him I patted his head and told him to give those fierce felines at home a wide berth from now on.  It was an unusual case for sure, and gave us a humorous lift heading into our weekend!  

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