Greedy stray Garfield survives infection and escapes life on the streets

Loveable stray Garfield was a welcome sight around his local neighbourhood, where he’d regularly visit different houses looking for food and a fuss.

However, residents soon began to worry when the greedy cats’ appearance started to deteriorate. Eight-year old Garfield began to lose weight rapidly, despite eating the same amount of food as normal.

His fur went from being fluffy and clean to being dull, muddy and riddled with fleas. Garfield also had thick cheeks, a sign of swollen lymph nodes and various scratches and sores on his face and body.

One of Garfield’s feeders called animal welfare charity, Mayhew for advice and their animal welfare officers admitted him to our clinic for a full health check.

Garfield seemed friendly and relaxed at our intake examination, and we took a urine test and some blood tests to try and determine what could be wrong with him.

Garfield’s test results indicated that he was suffering from an ear infection, possibly the result of a parasite. We also discovered that he was FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) positive, which means he has a lower functioning immune system and is therefore more susceptible to illness and infections than other cats.

Mayhew’s vets prescribed Garfield a short course of antibiotics and settled him with a foster carer so he could receive lots of love, care and attention as he recovered.

All seemed to be going well, until early one morning when Garfield’s foster carer awoke at 2am to find him unstable on his feet, crying and unstable to use his litter tray. Garfield also had a distinct head tilt and was stumbling and falling to the left when he attempted to walk.

The concerned foster carer rushed Garfield to the out of hours veterinary clinic at RSPCA Putney, who were eager to rule out any kind of tumour. To everyone’s relief, they found that Garfield was now suffering from a treatable secondary vestibular disease caused by the ear infection – affecting his balance, coordination and eye function.

RSPCA vet cleaned Garfield’s inflamed ear canals and prescribed him a longer course of antibiotics and pain relief, before discharging him to Mayhew to recover in our hospital ward.

Happily, Garfield seemed to improve over the next couple of days, and his head tilts slowly became less pronounced. Once he was well enough, we were able to reunite him with his very worried foster carer, who took Garfield home to continue his recovery.

She reported that after a few weeks on the antibiotics, Garfield became much more playful and active, and was able to balance on his hind legs and jump onto and off from furniture once more.

As he began to feel better, Garfield also started to look better – his coat became shiny once again, his cuts and scratches healed, and he started to put on weight.

A spokesperson for Mayhew said: “Being FIV positive, Garfield needed an indoor home that he could enjoy exploring without the risk of catching further infections – and we’re thrilled to say that he quickly met his perfect match.

“Garfield is now happily settled down with his brand-new family and is very much enjoying being the centre of attention for all the right reasons. FIV can severely weaken cats’ immune systems, and once infected, there is no cute.

“However, the symptoms of FIV, the spread of the disease and complications from further infections can all be easily managed with proper care and attention – making it extremely important that any suspected illnesses in cats, stray or domestic, are checked out by a qualified vet.”

To find out more about the work of the Mayhew team you can visit www.themayhew.org.