NORTH CAROLINA – An Asheville veterinarian has recently performed what is believed to be a very first-of-its-kind surgery on a cat with an extremely rare condition that causes it to have brittle bones.
Dr. Casey Kersten, who specializes in various dental procedures and surgery at Avery Creek Pet Hospital, performed the surgery on Pipsqueak, a three-year-old domestic short-hair.
The cat suffers from a rare condition which is referred to as feline “Knees and Teeth Syndrome.” It’s kind of like brittle bone disease found in humans, Kersten stated.
The syndrome can also cause cats to keep their baby teeth, leaving their permanent teeth impacted.
“A lot of veterinarians haven’t heard of it,” Kersten stated. “This is the first we had heard of it as well. It’s just not on anybody’s radar because it is so rare.”
First reported back in 2004, just 59 cases have been documented in North America.
Pipsqueak’s owner Kerbie Berggren, of West Asheville, discovered something was wrong not long after she went and adopted the cat. She took the four-month-old cat to a vet and was informed: “something is wrong with your cat’s walk.” That vet discovered a hip was dislocated.
Just about six months after surgery to take care of the hip, the cat fractured her kneecap for no apparent reason.
“Three months later she breaks the other kneecap,” Berggren stated. Berggren remembered the vet telling her that her cat had two sets of teeth.
When she googled a few key words, Berggren discovered some doctors in Britain who were studying cats with the same issues. She got in touch with one of the doctors there through Facebook.
Eventually, that doctor went ahead and recommended she speak with Dr. Steven Bailey in Michigan. Bailey wanted to track down all of Pipsqueak’s siblings to see if they were suffering from the same condition.
In addition to fractures, Pipsqueak had developed a proliferation in the jaw bone which was documented in just four other cats. All of those cats needed to be euthanized. The issue was causing an infection.
Berggren claims another local vet recommended she take Pipsqueak to Avery Creek Pet Hospital, and that’s where she met Kersten.
“We think the impacted teeth were causing the jaw bone to proliferate,” Kersten stated. “This is the first time anybody tried to do a surgery to correct it.”
The embedded teeth had to be removed and the large bony mass in her jaw also had to be shaved down to normal size.
Bailey, who is the vet in Michigan, helped guide Kersten through what needed to be done.
Kersten explains now Pipsqueak is slowly improving.
“We’re still working to try to get the underlying infection under control,” she stated. “We’re really hopeful. She’s a strong cat.”
Meanwhile, Berggren explained that Pipsqueak will likely need another surgery on the other side of her jaw so she’s started an online account to help raise money for vet bills.
“She (Pipsqueak) is so different from any other cat I’ve ever had,” Berggren stated. “She is the most gentle spirit … She’s so trusting and so loving.”
Anyone who may be interested in donating can find Berggren’s GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/27vg5q4 .