Animal stories

Lieutenant Dan… A cat’s decision.

The latest news on the Lieutenant Dan saga

Claire Meade at The Cat Hospital oversaw Lt Dan’s treatment from the very beginning; first with the amputation of his seriously damaged leg, then with the lancing of the numerous abscesses that repeatedly formed on his head. Weeks passed when I had to clean the abscess every night to draw out  puss.

Necrotic flesh removed from Lt Dan Abscess

The  decision was made to operate to remove the dead skin around the wound in the hope that his head would finally heal.  This surgery was combined with Laser treatment from Emma Robertson,Veterinary Physiotherapist.

Lt Dan after his operation
Dan undergoing laser treatment

We hoped that Dan could finally be free from pain. Unfortunately this was not to be. Lieutenant Dan seemed determined not to get better. Lieutenant Dan’s abscesses started last October. He had numerous medical tests done, including a test for MRSA, but they all came back negative.  Although the laser treatment seemed to help Dan, he had a relapse in March. 

Lt Dan’s abscesses after his relapse

Claire Meade, however, did not give up hope. She had one last trick up her sleeve. After spending her own time to come up with an answer to Lt Dan’s problem, she treated him for Nocardiosis a form of bacteria that can be picked up from the soil.  Dan faced six weeks of antibiotics, twice daily, coupled with Emma’s Laser treatment.

Dan, all wrapped up and ready to receive his medication.

Within weeks of Dan receiving his new medication he was up and about like  a new cat.

Dan then decided to take the matter of his new life into his own hands. He figured out how to use the cat flap (something that he had never bothered to do before) and returned to his natural feral life. He spent eight months living with us in our house – without the need of a cage once his leg had healed – and played with our cats, but always suffered from his abscesses. He now spends his days in a feral box, or boxes, of his choosing, in our back yard.

Lt Dan peeking over the garden wall

Our cat flap is fixed to the window so I made a special ramp for Dan when he wants to come to visit. He comes in to the kitchen for his breakfast and dinner and, late at night, he sneaks in for a cuddle with Captain Underpants by the fire.

Lt Dan’s special stairs.

I miss him terribly, but I get the odd glimpse of his rear end disappearing around the corner of the house if he sees me.

Lieutenant Dan has made his decision to live his life the way he wants it and who am I to deprive him of this great joy?

Dan playing in the hedge.
Lieutenant Dan cuddling with Captain Underpants.
Animal stories

Lieutenant Dan: To Be or not to Be?

Lieutenant Dan, after being brought to The Cat Hospital

Back in September, a feral kitten was brought to The Cat Hospital after a road traffic accident.  The kitten, who was later named Lieutenant Dan, needed an operation to have his leg amputated.  The operation went well and Lt Dan recovered quickly thanks to the loving foster home Maggie and Jim offered to him.  Soon, Lt Dan was running around the place, apart from the odd tripping from his foster sisters.

Lieutenant Dan has learned to live with his disability

However, worries were not over for Lt Dan who had to be brought back in emergency to The Cat Hospital because an enormous abscess had appeared on his head.  It was emptied and Lt Dan was put on antibiotics.  However, two weeks later it reappeared, and again two weeks later.  It became evident that it could be something serious.  We also feared that the infection would get to the bone and infect the marrow, resulting in poisoning the blood.

Lt Dan falling asleep on Maggie after having had his head cleaned, something that has become a ritual for the two of them.

Clare explained that an operation would be needed to properly clean the abscess, but also take a culture to be sent for analysis so that he would receive the appropriate treatment. 

This post is called “to be or not to be” because too often animal welfare people are left to decide of the destiny of the animals they rescue.  It is a difficult choice and should not be so.  Animals should be loved and treated with respect and compassion by what we call “humanity”, but this is not so, they are left to suffer because too many members of our society believe that their own little comfort is more important.  Maggie and Jim though decided to go ahead with the operation and try to offer a better quality of life to Lt Dan.

Lt Dan’s head after his operation
Necrotic (gangrenous) skin

The operation took place at the end of November, leaving Dan with a huge scar.  The culture was sent to a laboratory and all waited for the result with expectation since it would enable Clare to prescribe the appropriate treatment.  However, the results showed nothing wrong and Clare was uncertain as to what should be done next.

Lt Dan feeling sorry for himself

At this stage things with Lt Dan have got desperate: countless trips to vets, numerous examinations, several operations from which tissue was taken and sent for cultures to be grown, and no result. Lt Dan’s recurring abscesses have proven to be a complete veterinary mystery. There is no detectable infectious agent present. There is nothing that can be eradicated through the use of antibiotics. But still the abscesses pop up, and out, on poor old Dan’s head regularly. The only treatment that could be offered to Dan was the nightly removal of the scab and bathing the abscess with salt water in order to keep a channel clear so any puss could exit the wound areas. This was far from an ideal method of dealing with Dan, who had already suffered a great deal in his short life. It was also becoming obvious that all this ‘pulling and tearing’ at Dan was having an adverse effect on the cat’s wellbeing and he was starting to exhibit signs of stress.

Wound before treatment with the scab removed

A lady called Emma Robertson contacted us and offered to treat Dan with laser therapy. Emma, who is a chartered veterinary physiotherapist, also specialises in a range of holistic therapies and very kindly offered to take the problem of Dan’s abscesses on. So Lt Dan was marched (unwillingly) into the car and over to Tower to see Emma. The actual treatment took a matter of minutes and involved no intrusive or painful procedures that would stress Dan out even more. Emma has a portable laser generator and she merely took out a handset – it looks like a small torch with a right angled head – and held it over the abscess on Dan’s head. The laser light is red in colour and within a few minutes of beginning it was all over and Dan was back in his cage glaring at everybody.

Dan receiving his first laser treatment


Today (Monday) the early results look promising with no significant discharge from Dan’s head wound; the first time this has been the case in quite a while. The wound itself looks a lot drier and healthier than it has been. Dan is due to return to Emma for further treatments, spread over the next few weeks. We are very grateful to Emma for her kind offer to help Dan as both ourselves and Clare Meade are baffled by Dan’s refusal to get better. Emma does volunteer for the Donkey Sanctuary and is no stranger herself to animal welfare. She can be contacted from her Facebook profile.