Veterinary

Cat undergoes ‘gender reassignment’ to save life

A cat with a bladder problem has made a recovery after undergoing “gender reassignment” surgery.

The six-year-old cat named Piglet, was facing being put to sleep, but thanks to Sarah Bruce at Charter Vets in Congleton, his life has been saved using a rare procedure to remove part of his genitals which allows him to urinate “like a female”. The surgery was performed after a bladder stone was preventing Piglet from being able to pass water.

Piglet’s owner, Zoe Philpott said: “I noticed that Piglet’s bladder was really distended and he was trying his hardest to wee on his litter tray but nothing was happening. At first, I took him to a different vets who thought he had cystitis and put a catheter in. They thought bladder crystals were causing a blockage and that they had dislodged them but 25 minutes after we got home, Piglet was struggling again.

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“We went back several times over two weeks and he became really swollen with having a catheter in so many times. He was so poorly and I decided to get a second opinion because no one seemed to know what was wrong.”

She added: “Sarah said a stone was causing a blockage and they couldn’t remove it. His penis was so swollen and Sarah asked me to consider whether to go ahead with a radical operation to remove it all together. Piglet was so poorly and it was horrible seeing him suffering, he’d lost lots of weight too.

“But it was reassuring to know that Sarah had done the operation once before and it had been successful so I agreed for Piglet to have the procedure and have never looked back. There’s no doubt Sarah saved Piglet’s life.”

Bruce, who has been a vet since 2011, said: “When Piglet came in, he had a bladder stone lodged at the end of his penis (the urethra). We could either put him to sleep or perform radical surgery to remove part of the penis, where the stone was trapped, because we couldn’t flush it out.

“The surgery involved making his anatomy more like a female so now he wees like a girl. It is the second procedure I’ve done like this and it worked without any problems. He just needed a couple of week’s recovery while the outside wounds healed. The procedure is not something you’d usually leap into unless absolutely necessary because in many cases, the stones can be removed.

“But Piglet’s wasn’t going to come out unfortunately so we had little choice. He’s been brilliant since the operation, he had a mild bout of cystitis but that’s expected with surgery of this kind, and it settled quite quickly.”

She added: “I think it’s worth raising awareness about the problems with passing stones because it’s quite common in male cats.

“I’d urge owners to get them seen to straight away if they are having trouble urinating, as Mrs Philpott did in this case, because it can lead to more serious problems. Overall this is an exceptional case with a positive outcome. In layman terms, it is a little bit like gender reassignment surgery. He’s still a boy, he just wees like a girl now.”

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