Sophie’s Scary Journey

Gorgeous little black cat Sophie is now 11 years old, but six years ago her owner feared the worst as she was referred to us as an emergency as she was having seizures and had a dangerously high red blood cell count.

Sophie is a very precious cat to her owner as they had adopted Sophie and her twin sister Sheba only a few months before this, and only a few weeks after their previous cat Ashley had passed away at the grand old age of 18.

Sophie and Sheba settled into their new home very quickly and were helping to ease their owner’s grief for Ashley. However unknown to them Sophie’s red blood count was increasing.

Her owner noticed that Sophie’s eyes had become red rimmed and that she was tiring easily when playing, then a few days later she began randomly twitching around her face and shoulders, so her owner immediately took her to their local vet. The vet noticed that Sophie’s gums were also very red diagnosed that Sophie had a virus. However, her dedicated owner was still worried, and that evening Sophie passed bright red urine, so her owner immediately called an emergency vet. While on the phone Sophie had a full seizure violently convulsing and fell from her tower bed, unable to move.

A vet and nurse came and took Sophie into the practice immediately to have further investigations, and the next morning a vet called her distraught owner concerned that Sophie had a dangerously high red blood count (88%), so they did further tests that ruled out poisoning as a cause but were worried it may be a brain or kidney tumour, so Sophie was urgently referred to us.

Her owner had a tough journey on a dark and stormy evening listening to Sophie’s heart-breaking cries, utterly heartbroken that she may lose her. Sophie was immediately admitted and seen by one of our Specialists in Small Animal Internal Medicine.

After a number of days of more tests and investigations and several phlebotomies (blood withdrawals) to bring her red blood count down Sophie was diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera – an extremely rare, but thankfully for Sophie and her owner, non-aggressive form of leukaemia. It basically meant that her blood was too viscous to flow properly. The team said that going forward Sophie would need close monitoring, and her condition controlling with chemotherapy pills and phlebotomies.

Four months later her owner had to move because of personal circumstances and under the guidance of our Specialists advised their new local vets on her care and treatment Garston Veterinary Group in Frome, Somerset. Over the next few months, they were able to slowly decrease the frequency of Sophie’s chemotherapy pills to a minimum dosage.

Six years on from that awful fright her owner had, she is so delighted that Sophie’s red blood count (Packed Cell Volume/PCV) is stable, and at her eight weekly check-ups, it is now around 42%-45% which is half its original state.

Her owner said, “Sophie is loved by everyone who meets her and is always the purrfect patient when she visits her vet.

She willingly has her blood tests without any fuss or sedation. She is a very special cat who, against all the odds, has stabilised with her extremely rare and relatively unknown blood condition – Polycythemia Vera (also known as Primary erythrocytosis). We were told that there is a one-in-a-million chance of having a cat with this condition. Every day with Sophie is a gift having nearly lost her to this most unusual disease. We also keep a close eye on Sheba for any warning signs of PV, as sometimes it can be genetic!”

“We are extremely grateful to Florence and Aran for taking such good care of her when she came into AMVS, and for quite possibly saving Sophie’s life.”