Vet Tails Excerpt – Tom the leper

  • Tom is a gorgeous cat, very affectionate and a real character. One day his owner Sue noticed a lump on his toe about half a centimetre in size that was raised and a bit red but didn’t seem to be bothering him. We put him onto a course of anti-biotics in case of a common infection as well as high doses of vitamin C which can be helpful in supporting the immune system and assisting with the resolution of many skin issues. 

    A couple of weeks later there was no change in the lump and there was a second lump coming up on Tom’s forearm. He was a little subdued and we were concerned about him. The next step was a fine needle aspirate (FNA) to determine what the lumps were. A FNA uses a fine needle at the end of a syringe to suck some of the lump material out and squirt it onto a microscope slide. We then send the sample to the laboratory where the pathologists examine it under a microscope. The conclusion was that Tom had feline leprosy.


    Leprosy in cats is a relatively rare disease caused by bacteria that are similar to the type that cause tuberculosis. Unlike human leprosy, the presenting problem is usually raised skin lumps that can appear in one or more places. Feline leprosy is spread by rat bites and cats of any age may get it. It can usually be treated.


    There are two main avenues of treatment; medical and surgical. Sue and I decided to start treatment with the medical approach and if it didn’t work then we would do surgery to remove the lumps at a later stage. Sue was keen on integrating complementary therapies to help aid Tom’s recovery and so I prescribed some homeopathic drops, a broad spectrum anti-oxidant for immune support and a strong drug, to kill the leprosy bacteria.


    The morning of his second dose of the drug Tom had an anaphylactic reaction to the medication. His face and paws swelled up severely, his breathing became laboured and his life was in danger. Thank goodness Sue spotted the problem and acted quickly to bring him into hospital. We gave Tom adrenalin as well as corticosteroids to help his body to resolve the anaphylaxis and then also placed him onto intra-venous fluids.


    We wanted to do everything that we could to help Tom and so additional supportive treatments were given later on: intra-venous vitamin C, which boosts recovery and NIS which often has profound effects on balancing the body and restoring health. Tom was initially very subdued but through the day he went on to make a steady recovery and he went home that evening to devour his dinner, a little tired but much brighter. The next day he was just about back to his normal smoochy self and the astonishing thing was that his leprosy lumps had reduced to half the size overnight!


    Because of his anaphylactic reaction to the drug, he didn’t get any more medication but he went on to make a full recovery with the lumps disappearing completely within a few days and they never did return although Tom is still referred to occasionally as “Tom the leper”!