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Jasmine was a healthy 6 month old kitten and as responsible pet owners, we felt it was right to take her to the vets to be spayed. We had had two female cats previously and their operations had been routine, with very few noticeable effects. However, when I picked Jasmine up on the evening after the operation, I was surprised to find that although she had been shaved along her side, the actual incision had been made at the edge of this, on the hairline; she looked very sorry for herself, very lethargic, which I assumed was due to the on-going effect of the anaesthetic. I offered Jasmine water and a light meal at home, but she was not interested and slept limply on my lap, which was most unusual for her. When my husband saw the wound later that evening, he was concerned that some of Jasmine’s hair was caught up in the stitches; working within the pharmaceutical industry he has a good knowledge of aseptic procedures and knew something was not right. Following further enquiries at the vets, we found out that Jasmine’s operation had been carried out by a locum, although I had specifically asked who would be doing it and had been told it would be one of the experienced vets at the surgery.

By lunchtime the next day, Jasmine had still not eaten and had not taken any water; I tried to offer drops on my fingers and in a dropper, but she just seemed unable to move herself enough to drink. I contacted the surgery and the receptionist suggested Jasmine might be in pain and I should pop her back for some more pain relief. The vet felt that Jasmine was probably just taking time to recover still and did not seem worried. I voiced my concerns that Jasmine had taken so little in the way of fluids and so the vet agreed to inject water under her skin to ensure she was not dehydrated, and asked that I bring her back in a few days to have the stitches checked. The vet said Jasmine had had a long term antibiotic following the operation and did not feel any other medication was necessary.

Jasmine continued to be lethargic and unwilling to eat or drink, although I was less worried as she had been injected with the water. She lay on her bed hardly able to raise her head and for most of the time did not even open her eyes. I ensured she had a quiet place to rest and continued to nurse her, monitoring her wound, which was slightly weepy, but did not appear swollen or red.

With no improvement, I returned to the surgery with Jasmine; the vet felt she should be kept in, but I was given a form to sign saying that no-one would be on site between 10pm (their last checking time) and 8 the next morning. I was not happy to leave Jasmine with no-one to care for her so took her home again, spending much of the night sitting with her, ensuring her wound, which was still weeping, was kept clean as I had been instructed. With no signs of improvement, I returned to the surgery in the morning when the vet said that the wound was showing signs of infection and some tissue was necrotic, so they would need to open Jasmine up again to clean the wound out from the inside. In less than a week, Jasmine underwent this second operation, the dead skin was removed, the site cleaned up and a drain inserted. Jasmine was kept in for observations as the vet had concerns about her being at home with the drain in. After a couple of days, the drain was removed and the wound was left open to heal; I took her home and had to ensure the wound was cleaned, which upset Jasmine a great deal. I found this difficult to do, not knowing whether I was being thorough enough or whether I was causing Jasmine more pain. Again, I spent the next few nights tending to her at regular intervals every few hours. The vet took a swab from the wound to be sent for analysis.

Jasmine failed to make a good recovery; she continued to lay motionless with her eyes closed. Very occasionally, she would get up to pad on a sheepskin rug, which seemed to give her some comfort, and I would sit for hours with her on my lap ensuring she was warm and loved. Again, she was still not eating or drinking and I had to take her for a second injection of water.

Although the swab results had not yet come back, the next vet I saw decided to give Jasmine Antirobe tablets, which I was to start straight away, although this was difficult as Jasmine was refusing food or water; however, the first evening, I managed to get her to have at least half a dose and the next day she managed a full dose. Finally, the results came back and I was horrified to hear that Jasmine had MRSA; I had no idea that pets could catch this and felt that as she was so poorly, she was unlikely to recover, although the vet said the prognosis was good.

At this point, my husband and I searched the internet for more information and happened upon the Bella Moss Foundation (BMF). Although late in the evening, my husband phoned Jill (founder of the BMF) on the off-chance we might be able to get some more information. Jill answered immediately, despite the time of day and was both reassuring and positive. By amazing coincidence, Jill was hosting a conference the next day and was meeting with the UKs top MRSA experts. She arranged for one of the speakers to contact our vet directly to ensure he had all the information he needed to treat Jasmine and, as a further coincidence, this person was already an acquaintance of our vet. Everything seemed to be on Jasmine’s side at last.

The next day, continuing with the Antirobe, it was amazing to see the recovery Jasmine began to make. She became more alert, moved around, wanted to eat and drink, and we were able to persuade her to take the rest of her tablets.

Our vet professed his ignorance of MRSA, saying he always considered it was someone else’s problem. However, he was open to reading the information we passed to him from the BMF, and obviously had talked with the vet who was speaking at the conference. A few days later, we met with him to discuss what he had put in place since finding out that Jasmine had contracted MRSA. He had already arranged for new cleaners on the site, with an initial deep clean followed by updated procedures to ensure hygiene standards were appropriate, alongside further training for staff.

Jill provided us with so much help at a time of desperation; I was tired and worn down nursing Jasmine night and day and trying to manage my job as a teacher, and felt that there was little hope for Jasmine when she was first diagnosed. However, Jill was in constant touch at a time when reassurance was much needed. Without Jill’s knowledge and her contacts, our vet may not have been assured that Antirobe was the correct medication for Jasmine and the outcome may have been very different.

Today, Jasmine is a beautiful and lively young cat. She enjoys the comforts of home and goes outside only occasionally and preferably only when the sun is shining; she likes nothing better than snuggling up somewhere very warm, a favourite place being on top of our aquarium where the lighting provides her with ‘underfloor’ heating. However, because of all the pain she suffered, Jasmine has tended to shy away from cuddles and close contact, although gradually – very slowly – we are winning her trust back, especially when we have treats to offer her!

Whilst we will never know where or how Jasmine contracted MRSA, we have stayed at the same vet’s surgery despite everything that happened. We are confident that our vet is now well aware of the risks of MRSA and knows what needs to be in place to minimise the risk of infection because of the intervention of the Bella Moss Foundation. I would urge that should your pet need an operation, you first read the information on the BMF website and ask your vet questions to find out who will be carrying out the operation, what awareness the surgery has regarding MRSA and what procedures are in place to ensure the risks of infection are minimised, eg wearing of gloves and mask, effective cleaning routines and regular site testing for microbiological contamination.

Simply saying ‘Thank you’ to Jill will never seem enough; I am only sorry that Jill had to go through such an horrendous ordeal with her own beloved pet and received so little support, but am so thankful that she had the strength to move forward, determined to make a difference, which she has. We are very lucky to have a beautiful and healthy cat today because of Jill.

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