Skilled Glasgow veterinary team pull Pogo back from the brink

A crack team of vets saved a cat from certain death using a rare and complex kidney bypass procedure.

Four-year-old Pogo was rushed to Vets Now’s pet emergency hospital in Glasgow after becoming critically ill.

His devastated owner Janine McMahon feared he would have to be put to sleep after being diagnosed with a potentially fatal organ blockage.

But our team of vets had other ideas and quickly got to work on saving his life.

Image of Pogo the cat sitting in front of a bouquet of flowers for Vets Now article on kidney problems in cats
Four-year-old Pogo was diagnosed with a potentially fatal organ blockage ©Vets Now

During a gruelling four-hour operation, surgeon Ana Marques used a state-of-the-art C-arm to capture images of Pogo’s kidneys in motion.

This technique, called fluoroscopy, allowed Ana to safely place implants that resolved the obstruction and repaired his injuries.

To everyone’s delight, the much-loved family pet is now almost fully recovered.

“This happened totally out of the blue without any warning,” explained hairdresser Janine, 53, from Bishopbriggs, near Glasgow.

“My daughter Nieve noticed first that he just looked a bit sad and his ears were down. When he started staying under the table and not eating, I decided it was probably worth taking him to the vets, but I still didn’t expect it would be anything serious.

“You really wouldn’t have known to look at him as his coat was still shiny and he hadn’t lost any weight.”

Image of Pogo the cat sitting on the sofa with his sister Lola for Vets Now article on kidney problems in cats
Pogo needed a rare kidney bypass procedure in order to save his life ©Vets Now

Janine took Pogo to her local daytime vet where he was given an anti-sickness injection as it was thought he may have eaten something dodgy.

But he went downhill fast overnight and when she took him back the next day, blood tests triggered major alarm bells and Pogo was referred to Vets Now.

The specialist unit is one of two Vets Now hospitals open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for pet emergencies and complex referrals.

Tests by emergency vet, Lara Brunori, quickly showed that Pogo had major kidney problems, with scans revealing they were both grossly abnormal.

His condition was critical that putting him to sleep was discussed as the most humane option.

But the hospital has state-of-the-art operating facilities and the latest medical imaging equipment and surgeon Ana felt there was a chance to save Pogo.

Image of Pogo the cat for Vets Now article on kidney problems in cats
His condition was so critical that putting him to sleep was discussed ©Vets Now

“I knew they were so worried about the blood results and they had to try and stabilise him first,” said Janine.

“I was so upset and was finding it hard to take it in. When they said they thought there may be a chance with an operation, I just wanted to make sure he wouldn’t suffer.

“They told me they’d make sure he’d never be in pain, so I wasn’t ready to give up on him. I told them to do whatever they needed to do.”

The complex procedure had to be carried out as quickly as possible to give Pogo the best chance of survival.

Ana, who is a former senior lecturer in small animal surgery at Edinburgh University, said: “Poor Pogo was in a very bad way when he presented to our out-of-hours team.

“He was diagnosed with severe kidney issues and then transferred to our emergency and critical care team for further stabilisation.”

Image of Pogo the cat with a bandage on his right paw for Vets Now article on kidney problems in cats
The team worked tirelessly to give Pogo the best chance of survival ©Vets Now

“Once he was stable enough, we agreed with the owners to have SUBS, subcutaneous ureteral bypass system, placed for both kidneys.

“This is advanced surgery that is only possible because we now have a C-arm and surgeons with experience in what’s called interventional radiology.

“Pogo’s case was a perfect example of the Vets Now team in Glasgow working together between disciplines to save a life.

“I’m so pleased he came through it with flying colours and has gone on to make a remarkable recovery. He really is an adorable cat and was a dream patient.”

For Janine it was a case of waiting by the phone, praying she didn’t get an early call to indicate the surgery had been unsuccessful.

“We knew we could lose him as he might not strong enough to come through the anaesthetic and could also pick up an infection,” said Janine. “But the Vets Now team gave me every confidence and I knew he was in safe hands.

Image of Pogo the cat with owner Janine for Vets Now article on kidney problems in cats
Pogo's owner Janine is delighted that he is on the mend and will be at home for Christmas ©Vets Now

“It was amazing when they called as soon as he was coming round after the operation. He was in for a full week’s recovery and when we went to get him it was so emotional with a lot of tears.

“It was lovely to see him and get her back to his sister Lola. His fur’s growing back in and he’s doing great.

“Knowing that he might have had to be put to sleep if it hadn’t been for that operation, it’ll be brilliant to have him here for Christmas.”

Vets Now also offers an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available to you.

While the service is not suitable for life-threatening emergencies, our experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns you might have.

If your pet needs an in-person follow-up appointment at any vet practice, we will refund the online consultation fee, so you never pay twice.