In a truly unusual friensdhip, Dragonlord the pig supports his friend Sriracha the cat when she has epileptic fits.
Caring for an ill animal is a challenging exercise, seeing that they can't tell us what they're feeling.
Caitlin Cimini, founder of New Jersey based animal sanctuary Rancho Relaxo, doesn't shy away from this challenge. Not only does she take animals in, or advocate for the humane treatment and rights of animals, she's adopted a cat with special needs.
Cimini has posted a number of Instagram videos and images of the animals the sanctuary has taken in to rehabilitate and care for, and quite a few clips are of the Internet's favourite cat with special needs and her brand new bestie, a piglet.
Let's meet Sriracha and Dragonlord.
Sriracha was born with Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH), which causes walking and balancing problems. It is a result of an under-developed cerebellum, the part of the brain which governs fine motor skills and co-ordination.
Sriracha doesn't only suffer from CH, she also suffers from seizures. It's been speculated that the seizures may not always be a result of a condition like CH, but the result of another existing condition. Cimini, however, believes Sriracha's seizures are due to her CH.
Dragonlord, a piglet who was brought to the sanctuary, has become Sriracha's new best friend, who comforts her when she has seizures. The two are basically inseparable.
Farewell and rest in peace
The last few weeks have been rather difficult for Sriracha and Cimini because the feline's first piglet bestie, Batman, had suddenly passed away, leaving Sriracha lost and confused.
When Cimini introduced Sriracha to Dragonlord the two hit it off immediately.
Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH)
The only way to accurately diagnose if your cat has CH is if your vet does a Computed Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan. Some vets may be able to identify the symptoms and diagnose your cat without doing a scan, but you do have the right to request a scan to be sure, because there are other conditions which have similar symptoms to CH.
Seeing your furry feline friend suffer is extremely heartbreaking, but what's worse is knowing that there isn't much you can do to help them.
Human and feline seizures are similar, as is their treatment.
Seizures are the result of excessive electrical impulses being fired off in the brain, which in turn means the brain is overwhelmed and reacts in a hyperactive manner, leading to convulsions of the body.
Seizures aren't always violent and easy to detect, and sometimes your cat will just become quiet.
Symptoms of a seizure include:
- Facial twitching
- Sudden bursts of activity
- Uncontrolled muscle activity
- Loss of consciousness
Should your cat need medical treatment for seizures, it is important to determine the underlying cause to ensure the correct treatment. This includes a complete physical examination, history and nature of the seizure and behavioural changes.
The Zimmer Feline Foundation explains that if the underlying cause is known, it should be treated accordingly. Correct treatment may lead to a complete cessation of seizures.
If an underlying cause if difficult to determine, your cat may be placed on anti-convulsant medication – which will need to be administered for life as it does not directly treat the (undetermined) cause of the seizure.
What to do if your cat has a seizure
There isn't much one can do to manage a seizure. One cannot stop a it, and even though it may be stressful and traumatic for you, you need to be calm for the sake of your pet, and basically wait for the seizure to run its course.
Make sure your cat is in a safe environment. An ideal location would be a soft, open space where they won't knock into table or chair legs, or fall down any stairs.
Do not restrain your cat or try to pick them up and hold them. You can however gently pet and comfort them by speaking to them in a calm, relaxed manner. Cats may also urinate or defecate during their seizure.
You don't need to put anything into your cat's mouth, including your fingers, to move their tongue.
You need to time your cat's seizures so that you know how long they usually last, because if a seizure lasts longer than a few minutes, you need to take them to a vet immediately.
Image credit: iStock