A cat who faced total heart failure has been given his own life-saving pacemaker in an incredibly ultra-rare operation.
Shady, an eight-year-old tabby cat, was taken to Walker Green Vets in Timperley, Greater Manchester, for a mere routine examination when vets discovered he had a slow heart rate.
The pet then underwent further cardiology tests which ended up revealing that he had what vets described as a complete heart block.
The condition put him at great risk of heart failure, but vets said a pacemaker could save his life.
A team of specialists then carried out the extremely intricate operation.
Although pacemakers are common in human beings, they are rare in others animals such as dogs and are even more rare in cats.
The clinic’s head nurse Emma Greene, who assisted with the procedure, stated the team felt a mixture of excitement and nerves.
He went on to say: ‘The procedure had not been performed at Walker Green before, so we wanted to ensure that the day ran as smoothly as possible.’
The operation – which was covered by Ms Hutchinson’s insurance policy – involved accessing Shady’s heart through his belly and attaching a special lead to the outside of the muscle while it is still beating.
This lead, which connects to a pacemaker, can detect just when Shady’s heart fails to beat and sends an electrical impulse.
The team of specialists involved in the surgery were veterinary cardiologist Emily Dutton, from Cheshire Cardiology, surgeon Catherine Sturgeon, from Visiting Vet Specialists, and Carl Bradbrook, a veterinary anaesthetist.
Ms Greene then added: ‘As the operation progressed and it was time to suture the lead to Shady’s heart, Catherine asked me to use my fingers to lift Shady’s sternum up so that she could get a good view, I could feel his heart beating against my finger.’
The procedure is very rare in cats because of their size. Whereas dogs have much larger veins and they can put a pacemaker in through the shoulder, a cat’s has to be inserted through the abdomen.
A similar operation carried out in Singapore cost $5,000, which is about £3,500 in US currency.
Shady was soon sent home to recover. He returned to see the team of specialists just last week for his post-op check-up and is fighting fit.
His owner Laura Hutchinson, who said she was ‘shocked and worried’ when she found out Shady needed a pacemaker fitted, admitted: ‘He has recovered really well. He’s quite a placid cat so he has just been taking it easy but he’s becoming more playful.
‘The team have been excellent. Emily has been in contact to check up on Shady and Ben and his staff looked after us well.’
‘We are all over the moon that Shady has made such a good recovery,’ added Emma. ‘It makes us feel proud that we have been able to do this for Shady and his owner.’
RSPCA London veterinary director Caroline Allen states: ‘Fitting a pacemaker is a very specialist procedure which would be done by a cardiologist.
‘It is quite common for pacemakers to be fitted in dogs but I’ve not heard of them being used to treat cats before because they don’t tend to get the type of heart condition that would require one.
‘However, it’s interesting to hear that this procedure has been done and I hope it means this cat will now be able to live a long, happy and healthy life.’