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Remarkable recovery for a kitten with a life-threatening blood condition

6th January 2022

Hurley and Bethany Sutton RVNHurley was only a tiny kitten of around 16 weeks old when she first came to Lumbry Park in early July. She was referred for suspected pancytopenia, a condition which occurs when there is bone marrow failure of varying causes. This condition is very rare in cats and has a very high mortality rate.

Hurley’s care was managed with the Critical Care and Internal Medicine Teams working together. She did indeed have pancytopenia, with severe neutropenia (no white cells to fight infection) and thrombocytopenia (no platelets to form a blood clot).

As a consequence of her thrombocytopenia, Hurley developed severe anaemia due to intestinal haemorrhage and required multiple blood transfusions to keep her stable. Feline blood transfusions should not be undertaken lightly as donors cannot give consent as humans do so it is important donor welfare is prioritised and blood products are used in appropriate cases like that of Hurley.

Once her anaemia was treated symptomatically with blood transfusions she felt much better, but remained thrombocytopenic (low platelets causing inability to clot) for almost two weeks. All patients leave their mark but long stay patients like Hurley really stole the hearts of the team, particularly with her kitten antics!

Treatment was instituted to try and increase bone marrow function to increase numbers of neutrophils and platelets included a granulocyte-colony stimulating factor, Filgrastin, and a host of other medications.  Her bone marrow function and haematology blood results were stable by day 16 and she was discharged for monitoring back with her family.

As the condition is poorly understood the long term treatment plan and prognosis was unpredictable.  Hurley had a relapse one month later with neutropenia and thrombocytopenia but had no recurrence of anaemia. Thankfully, she responded to supportive treatment and did not require hospitalisation second time around time.

Hurley is now nearly six months old and has been safely neutered now. She is stable on repeat bloodwork and we hope she will go on to live a normal life.

She really stole our hearts and we were on the rollercoaster with her family hoping she’d respond to time and medication options and we’re delighted she’s doing so well and still unfazed by vet visits, a testament to positive nursing!

Hurley’s care plan was optimised for her with the combined expertise of Feline Medicine Specialists, including our very own Dr Sam Taylor, and the Critical Care Team, using knowledge and expertise from other UK referral centres to do our very best for Hurley using previous case experience of similar pancytopenia patients.

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