All posts by Rohan Hughes

Toby Purrs for all the Right Reasons

I would like to tell you about a little cat that I met a few weeks ago. Toby was admitted into our hospital after being hit by a car. When I first saw Toby, he was resting comfortably in an intensive care pen, but it was hard not to notice the large, blue bruise on his belly. The fur on his belly had been clipped the day before when Toby was rushed into Theatre for life-saving surgery.

When Toby first presented, our vet was on hand to examine him. Toby was purring, but not for the right reasons. Cats will often purr when they are distressed… and Toby was definitely distressed.  Toby’s right hind leg was injured but the vet was more concerned that Toby was having difficulty breathing. There was an abnormal bulge on Toby’s left side and the vet could feel that Toby’s internal organs were not where they should be.

Toby xray

Being the weekend, our surgical unit was closed. Nevertheless, the Theatre was opened and prepared for Toby’s emergency surgery. When the vet opened Toby up, she could see the extent of his injuries. Without going into too much detail (not good for those who are squeamish!), Toby’s injuries caused his intestines to move up, crowding his lungs and compromising his ability to breath. Our vet and nurse worked hard to repair the damage caused by the car… and they did an amazing job!

Toby was nursed intensively for the next 48 hours. His recovery was smooth and speedy and soon he was moved out of intensive care and into our hospital cat ward.  Toby needed a second surgery to repair his leg and, a week later, the vets decided he was well enough to undergo the surgery. Amazingly, two days after this surgery, Toby was already starting to use his injured leg again!

While he was our patient, I was a regular visitor! It was so lovely to see him happy and comfortable. He loved the attention and would tell you with his loud purrs… happy purrs…finally, purrs for all the right reasons…



Update: Toby spent a few weeks with one of our amazing foster parents, resting and recovering from his accident. With the care and comfort provided by his foster carers, Toby was finally ready to find his “forever home”. Toby was recently made available for adoption and found his “forever” home within 24 hours!


Rosie the Sweet Dog with Sore Eyes

Meet Rosie; a sweet, quiet dog who recently came into our care. Rosie was brought into our hospital via our Animal Ambulance. Her coat was dirty and a little rough but it was her eyes that were the real problem. A thick crusty discharge had dried over her eyes glueing both eyes shut & tangling filthy hair into the mess. The little dog couldn’t open her eyes, let alone see out of them.


But why had Rosie’s eyes crusted over? Rosie has a condition called Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), more commonly known as dry eye. As the name suggests, the eyes become dry because of a decreased production of tears. Producing tears is essential for eye health as the tears lubricate the cornea (surface of the eye) and surrounding tissues. Tears also aid in removing any debris that comes in contact with the eyes.

Rosie’s condition is a classic example of what happens when dry eye is left untreated. Rosie had developed painful ulcers on her right cornea and both eyes were red and inflamed. Our Vet immediately gave Rosie some pain relief to ease her discomfort before starting her on two different types of eye drops.

With her eyes cleared and treatment commenced, Rosie was settled into a comfortable pen in our hospital ward. She was very quiet and a little sad. Our Volunteers paid special attention to Rosie and ensured that she received plenty of cuddles and walks outside the hospital.

Rosie has gradually come out of her shell and has started to show signs of feeling better. Our Nurses and Volunteers tempted her with yummy food and she started to enjoy the treats and affection. Rosie is a favorite of ours and although her eyes are still uncomfortable, she is definitely on the road to recovery…. and that’s great news for such a sweet little dog.

Rosie 2

Gemma the Tiny Kitten

Gemma is a tiny kitten, just over half a kilogram. At six weeks of age, Gemma should still be with her Mum and siblings. Instead, Gemma somehow found herself alone and in danger. Cold, dirty and injured, Gemma was admitted into our hospital by our Night Nurse.

Gemma had substantial facial injuries; her left eye was swollen and there was a deep cut running from her mouth to her nose. Our Nurse immediately gave Gemma some analgesia to relief the kitten of any discomfort, then bathed the tiny kitten to remove all the fleas. Warm and dry, Gemma was placed in an intensive care pen. These pens can be warmed and are in full view so that the Nurses can keep a close eye on the patients.

Early the next morning, Gemma was examined by our Vet.  Although Gemma was eating, she was a little dehydrated. Our Vet was also concerned about Gemma’s eye. It was quite swollen and difficult to examine properly. The Vet administered some fluids to Gemma then commenced antibiotics and a medicated eye cream.

Amazingly, through all her trials and tribulations, Gemma has remained remarkably cheerful and enthusiastic about life! Every time I passed her pen, I couldn’t help but open the gate and place my hand gently over her curled up body. I would immediately feel Gemma explode into a roar of purrs. She really is the loveliest, sweetest, bravest little creature and she has won my heart completely! And I’m not the only one… apparently our Vet has taken Gemma home to recover… and I don’t blame her…Gemma is a treasure and impossible to resist!

tiny kitten

Rosie gets Stuck!

Rosie 1

Have you ever been stuck between a rock and a hard place? How about between two fences? Well, recently our Ambulance driver brought in a cat who had found herself in that very predicament. The poor little thing was jammed in the narrow space between two fences upside down, her paws facing upwards. And judging by her condition, it was likely that she had been there for some time.

Vicki our Vet was on hand to examine the little blue cream tortoiseshell cat when she arrived at the Vet Hospital. The cat, now named Rosie, was dehydrated and cold. She also had terrible cuts on her hind legs that were so painful that she found it difficult to stand and walk.

Vicki started Rosie on intravenous fluids and administered antibiotics and pain medication to help ease Rosie’s pain. Rosie was then placed in an intensive care pen so that she could have her temperature closely monitored as she was actively warmed. It took a little over two hours for Rosie’s temperature to rise to a normal value.

Over the next 24 hours, Rosie was intensively nursed. Rosie’s appetite was poor and the nurses’ syringe fed her a critical care diet. Rosie’s wounds were kept clean and her dressings changed daily. The Vets decided to take some blood from Rosie and run a blood test to ensure that there were no underlying issues and thankfully the results were normal. After a couple of days of intensive care, Rosie finally started to show signs of improvement. She started to eat enthusiastically and enjoy a good cuddle!

Rosie is still very skinny and her wounds have not completely healed, but she is now well enough to be discharged into the care of one of our lovely Foster Parents. In foster care she will continue to recover and gain condition and weight.

Rosie found herself between a rock and a hard place, but she survived with courage and spirit! And when she has fully recovered we will find her a wonderful “forever” home.

Update: Rosie has found a new home!


Rosie 2



Gemima’s Donut Treatment

Gemima 2

When I get to work in the morning, I like to walk through each ward and check on our patients. Imagine my delight when I came across this sign on a kitten’s pen; “Can have monitored donut breaks”…

Can have monitored donut breaks????? What?!?@?!? Well, if I ever get sick that is definitely the kind of treatment I want! But, of course, we are not periodically offering our patients cinnamon donuts… the sign was referring to the blue inflatable tube around Gemima’s neck.

The blue inflatable “donut” is a type of collar that is fitted around the animal’s neck to prevent them from worrying at a wound or suture line. If you look at Gemima’s back end, you will notice that her right hind leg has been amputated.

Gemima was brought into our hospital in severe pain with grazes to the face and a leg that was basically pointing the wrong way. X-rays identified the seriousness of Gemima’s situation.

Gemima 3 Gemima 4

Gemima’s femoral head (top of her long leg bone) was fractured and sitting out of the hip joint. The second x-ray highlighted the twist in Gemima’s swollen foot and indicated some fractures to her metatarsals (bones in the foot).  The Vets discussed her case extensively and decided that a leg amputation was the best treatment for Gemima.

Gemima 5

Gemima’s surgery went smoothly and her recovery was incredibly quick. This photo of Gemima is only a couple of days post-surgery. Isn’t she gorgeous!

Gemima 6

Gemima’s drain and sutures are now out and she is convalescing comfortably in foster care. Soon enough Gemima will be ready for her forever home… and, in fact, Gemima already has a lovely couple waiting patiently to adopt her.  And they are a lucky couple because she is worth the wait!

Gemima 7

Rohan Hughes

RSPCA Vet Nurse



Klaus the Kitten

Klaus the Kitten

Klaus 1

If looks could kill, hey???

So why are we bathing this little kitten? Because the poor thing has ringworm! And until the ringworm has cleared, he will need twice weekly bathing and some special medication.

Years ago, I had a lovely volunteer who was a professional hairdresser. I asked her to bath 3 playful puppies and she did… but it took her a while. When she was finished, I asked her how she went and she replied: “Well I haven’t bathed puppies before, so I just did what I do with my clients… I gave them a scalp massage and rinsed twice!”

Klaus 2

Rohan Hughes

RSPCA Vet Nurse


Pedro the Playful Puppy!

RSPCA Vollie Playing With Giants

Pedro 1

This past Tuesday I was introduced to Pedro. A puppy, if you can believe it, which thanks to his mix of Bull Arab X is still learning his own size. Pedro is a beautiful boy who has a shiny black coat, white patch on his chest and warm eyes.  He has a tail that simply does not stop wagging when he is happy, which is all the time! He has extremely long legs, which go any which way when he is running.

My time with Pedro was interesting; I took dozens of photos just to get these two where he is still enough so he isn’t just a blur on the screen. We went for a walk where he discovered his love for tennis balls! Although he loves to play fetch, sometimes the ball just doesn’t come back to you, as he is quite happy to play with himself! Now just like any child, he needs to be reminded of his manners, however unlike most children he is a great listener and will sit for you on first command.

Update: Since writing this blog entry, Pedro has been adopted by a lovely family…

By Claire Thrift, Volunteer.

Pedro 2



Hank the Really Lovely Cat

This is a sad story. I don’t really like telling sad stories, but Hank was an amazing cat and I want people to remember him. Hank was transferred to our Vet Hospital from another shelter with significant injuries to both front paws. It looked as though his paws had been trapped somewhere as the tips of both feet where severely wounded. Some of his toes were missing and you could see some pieces of bone protruding from the wound. But it was really hard to know exactly what had happened to him and perhaps we would never know.

Injured cat paws 3b

Dr Olivia examined Hank and gently cleaned his wounds. Hank loved the attention and sat contentedly allowing Dr Olivia do whatever she needed to do. Olivia carefully bandaged both of Hank’s front paws and gave him an antibiotic injection and some pain relief. The Nurse set Hank up in a comfortable, warm hospital pen with a bowl of delicious food. He was calm and relaxed, enjoying frequent pats from the Nurses and Volunteers. I kept checking of him too!

Injured cat paws 2

Olivia suspected that Hank would need part of his left paw amputated so the following day Hank’s front paws were x-rayed. The x-rays clearly identified the cause of Hank’s injuries; bullets.

The x-rays also identified the extent of Hank’s injuries. Hank had multiple fractures in both limbs. In some areas the bones were smashed and could not be repaired. If Hank’s injuries were limited to one limb we would have been able to amputate the leg and Hank would have recovered to live a happy life. But the damage to both limbs was beyond repair and Hank’s quality of life was our primary concern. It was with a very heavy heart that the decision was made to euthanise Hank on humane grounds.

Injured cat paws 4b

As I was preparing this blog entry, I re-read all of Hank’s hospital notes and I think the notes written by Olivia when she first assessed Hank say it all… she started her entry with “Lovely cat” and ended the same entry with “This is a really lovely cat”. He was indeed. Hank was a really lovely cat and it is such a shame.

Rohan Hughes
RSPCA Vet Nurse

Saving Polly


This is Polly, a very sick little puppy who was admitted into our hospital yesterday morning. Polly was lethargic, dehydrated and had terrible case of diarrhoea. We tested her for giardia and parvo virus, both of which generated negative results. But when we looked at a faecal sample under the microscope we could see eggs from a nasty intestinal worm; the hookworm. Polly had a significant hookworm burden and, as a result, was anaemic.

Lobke, one of our wonderful Vets, was busy treating Polly when I arrived at work. She had started Polly on IV fluids, had given her antibiotics, medicine to combat nausea/vomiting and an intestinal wormer (to rid her of those horrible hookworms!). But Polly was dangerously anaemic, and Lobke decided that if Polly was to have any chance of survival, then she really needed a blood transfusion.

We needed a blood donor and Nanda, our Shelter Manager, knew of a perfect candidate waiting in our adoption pens and she went for him straight away. Bobby walked into the vet hospital, as calm and as laid back as any dog I had ever met. He is enormous, but a gentle giant with big, brown eyes… a beautiful dog with a wonderful nature.

Lobke checked Bobby over to make sure that he was fit and healthy. Passing with flying colours, Lobke started Bobby on IV fluids then gave him a light anaesthesia. When Bobby was asleep, Lobke collected enough blood to help Polly. Afterwards, Bobby was moved to a warm recovery pen to wake up from his anaesthesia. In no time Bobby was sitting up and later in the afternoon we moved him into a larger hospital pen so that he could stretch his legs.

Look at that waggly tail!!!

Wasting no time, Lobke started Polly’s blood infusion, monitoring her closely for any adverse reactions. Polly’s blood transfusion continued over the course of the afternoon and was finished by early evening. The night Nurse’ continued to monitor Polly overnight and she seemed to be getting better and better…

Today I had to pop into work quickly and, of course, I made a bee line straight to Polly’s pen. I peeped behind the towel and a lively little Polly barked out a “yip-yap” at me. What a difference from yesterday morning! I love that mischievous twinkle that puppies have in their eyes, and Polly definitely had a sparkle!

So as I sit here in the evening with my little Persian cat curled up on my lap, I think of Polly. You might assume that she is asleep in her hospital pen, but you would be mistaken. Dr Anne, our Chief Veterinarian, took Polly home for the weekend! Polly is still on IV fluids and is still a long way from a full recovery, but Dr Anne is giving her the best medicine of all; a home environment… and a warm lap!

Just a few days later, Dr Anne emailed me some photos of Polly playing with her dogs. You won’t believe the difference!


Isn’t she beautiful!?

Rohan Hughes, Vet Nurse