Jasper the cat's mysterious limp

Jasper, a 13 year old male sterilised ginger cat was brought into Vetwest Clarkson at the end of July because his mum had noticed that he had been limping for the previous week. He is a cat that loves the outdoors and getting up to mischief.
During physical examination Jasper appeared to have a very slight limp on his left front leg but no specific abnormalities could be found. His temperature was normal and aside from a few scratches on his body, Jasper appeared to be very healthy. We decided to treat Jasper with some medication to reduce any inflammation and help reduce the pain Jasper was in.

After a week Jasper returned to the clinic, having had minimal improvement during this time. Our vets noticed that the area just below his left elbow was a little swollen and the muscles felt quite firm. Jasper also didn't like this area being touched because it was painful. Jasper was given a sedative and some xrays of his left foreleg were taken. The xrays didn't show any problems with Jasper's bones, however a small scab was found nearby, possibly a healing cat bite wound, so Jasper was prescribed a 10-day course of antibiotics and he was to continue his anti-inflammatory and pain relief medication.

Jasper returned once again a few weeks later. His owner reported that some days he seemed fine, but on others, he was very sore on his leg and would hold it off the ground. And in the past few days, he had started to become quieter in himself, and was not eating as much as he usually did.

On physical examination, palpation of his radius and ulna was very painful and it felt quite irregular. Jasper had an increased temperature, and seemed more lethargic than when we last saw him. A blood test was performed, and this showed that Jasper had a moderate increase in his white blood cell count, consistent with possible inflammation or infection. Repeat xrays were done on his leg, and these showed some quite incredible changes. His left radius showed areas of both bone production and bone destruction.

Our vets were worried about Jasper possibly having a cancer or serious infection in his bone, so he was given a general anaesthetic and several bone biopsies were taken of his radius.
These were sent to the laboratory for histopathology, and culture and sensitivity testing. The histopathology results showed that Jasper had a chronic bone infection and inflammation (osteomyelitis), and the culture results showed that the infection was a bacterial organism called Pasteurella. Thankfully, there was no sign of any cancer. Jasper was then started on a long course of antibiotics (he will be on them for at least 6-8 weeks). His owner was also advised to try and keep Jasper indoors and restrict his activity whilst his bone is healing.

Pasteurella is a pathogenic bacterial organism that is commonly transmitted between cats via bites. Jasper probably contracted this organism through a bite wound and the severe bacterial contamination of his left forearm as well as surrounding soft tissue injury contributed to the development of the post-traumatic osteomyelitis. In many cases, cat bite wounds will cause an abscess, however we do occasionally see cases where the infection is deeper, and enters into bone.

A few days after starting his new medication, Jasper's owner reported that he was already happier in himself, and had started to eat like he used to. We will take a repeat xray of Jasper's leg once he has been on the antibiotics for 6 weeks, and to monitor the healing process. 


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