Name: Harry Lew, from Delgany, County Wicklow
Pets: Arthur, a two-year-old cat originally from a rescue centre
Problem: Arthur had a bald patch on his forehead which was getting bigger
Arthur is a cool cat: he's a good advertisement for rescued animals. Harry and his family took him in from a local cat-rescue centre a year ago. He was a young adult cat who was a victim of Ireland's economic recession. His owner was from overseas: she had moved to Ireland during the boom years, with the hope of staying for the long-term. But, she lost her job and had to go back home. She had owned Arthur since he was a kitten, and he had become a close companion for herself and her young children. Sadly, she realised that she would not be able to take Arthur with her back to her home country, so she reluctantly handed him over to the rescue centre.
The Lews were looking for a new cat and they were clear that they didn't want a kitten. They have young grandchildren who often visit their home and there were two reasons why a kitten would not suit. First, a small kitten can be vulnerable when active children get carried away with the idea of a kitten as a play object. And second, an older kitten has the potential to be a liability, with sharp claws that can swipe a child's arm or face. A kitten was not the right choice for their situation. When they heard about Arthur, they were cautious at first: adult cats can also be a challenge. They can be nervous, stand-offish or even just grumpy. But when they heard that Arthur was already used to young children, they decided to give him a chance. As soon as they met the handsome black and white cat, he won their hearts over. Arthur is an intelligent, calm, friendly cat. He had just the right attitude for their household. He's friendly to the children, but when he's had enough, he turns around and walks away, finding a peaceful spot to enjoy on his own. It's as if he's aware that children can be fun, but they're not quite to be trusted, and yet they must not be hurt in any way. Arthur, as it turns out, is the perfect grandchildren's cat.
Arthur recently developed a red, bald patch above his right eye. At first Harry thought that he might have just bumped his head on something, scraping the fur away. But over a few days, the bald patch became bigger and it was clear that veterinary intervention was needed. Could it be something that might affect the grandchildren, like ringworm? Or could it be a strange, creeping skin disease that could spoil Arthur's good looks?
Arthur was a well-behaved patient in my consulting room. He sat patiently and quietly while I first examined him, then as I used electric clippers to take away the matted fur from around the bald patch. As it turned out, the problem was simple: Arthur had suffered a minor graze to his forehead which had become infected. I treated him with a soothing skin ointment, combined with an antibiotic injection that lasted two weeks.
Arthur recovered rapidly, with the hair starting to regrow within just a few days. He didn't even mind having the ointment applied.
If his recovery continues smoothly, Arthur's going to be fully furred for Christmas. There'll be no need for a paper hat from a Christmas cracker to cover the blemish, but funnily enough, this is one cat who might well end up wearing one. The grandchildren might like that idea. Arthur might quite like it, too.
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