A kitten which was born with a congenital birth defect that displaced her heart is now an energetic bundle of fun after surgery at a Staffordshire veterinary referral centre.

The kitten was born suffering from a severe case of pectus excavatum, a malformation of the breast bone (sternum), sometimes known as a ‘pigeon chest’ and she was called Pigeon because of her uncommon condition.

Staff at Birmingham-based rescue centre Kings Heath Cat Club (KHCC) initially hoped Pigeon’s problem might ease as she grew, but after six months they sent her for corrective surgery by the experts at Linnaeus-owned West Midlands Referrals in Burton on Trent.

KHCC carer Eloise O’Leary said: “Pigeon is an adorable young kitten and we waited to see if she would grow out of the problem but her breast bone did not develop properly and the condition eventually created a deviated sternum, up into her chest cavity, displacing her heart.

“We sent her for corrective surgery at WMR, where sutures were passed around her breast bone and secured to an external splint. After a few weeks for further growth, her sternum became more normally positioned. Everyone’s really happy with the way she’s healed and improved.

“Pigeon thoroughly enjoyed her time at the vets and made a big impression there. She just seemed to take it all in her stride and when she came home to us, she was immediately enjoying herself, scaling cat trees and racing up the stairs, which was wonderful.”

Pigeon was treated at WMR by advanced small animal practitioner Jon Mills, who admitted she made a real impact at the practice.

Jon said: “She’s a really cute kitten who has stolen the hearts of all the staff here at WMR.

“She’s also becoming something of a social media star, with the carers at Kings Heath Cat Club regularly posting about her progress on Facebook.”

The veterinary expert then explained Pigeon’s problem, adding: “Pectus excavatum cases in cats are only sporadically referred for correction so it was an unusual case, one which we don’t come across very often.

“It is a congenital condition resulting in dorsal deviation of the caudal part of the sternum or a dorsoventral flattening of the entire thorax that is thought to be associated with shortening of the central tendon of the diaphragm.

“To put it simply; she was clearly suffering from a caved-in chest, a congenital condition that requires surgery to correct.

“The operation, though, is not without risk, especially in a kitten so young and so small.

“Administering a general anaesthetic safely is a significant concern and the small size of the patient means absolute precision is needed when passing needles through the chest wall, in order to avoid trauma to the heart, lungs and major vessels.

“Everything went very well and Pigeon made an excellent recovery after surgery, although she needed splint dressings around her chest for several weeks afterwards as her new chest healed and settled.”

Happily, Pigeon’s in perfect shape now and has more excitement to come – she’s about to leave KHCC for a foster home at last.

Eloise revealed: “Once Pigeon has received the final all clear from the vets, she will be adopted by a foster family alongside her best pal

Tortellini, another KHCC rescue case. We are delighted for them both.”

WMR offers expert treatment in cases requiring orthopaedic surgery, spinal surgery, soft tissue and general surgery as well as medical and ultrasonography cases.

For more information on West Midlands Veterinary Referrals visit www.wm-referrals.com or search for West Midlands Veterinary Referrals on social media.

For more information on Kings Heath Cat Club in Birmingham, visit: https://kingsheathcatclub.com/.

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