Our hero of the month for March is Simba, a fantastic black cat that was brought in with a lump on his jaw. Simba is described by his owners as “an incredibly affectionate cat that loves fuss and cuddles”. It was because of his love of cuddles that his owners were able to identify the lump on the underside of his chin on the bone. They made an appointment straight away and he was brought in to see Chris the vet.

Simba was booked in for x-rays which showed that there was a definite change in his mandible (lower jaw bone), a biopsy was taken and sent off to the lab. Unfortunately, when we received the biopsy results they showed that Simba had an aggressive cancer of his mouth. We contacted the specialists at Liverpool Small Animal Teaching Hospital for advice and they recommended that we performed a Hemimandibulectomy. This is where half of the lower jaw bone is removed completely.

When Simba came in for his operation he was described by our orthopaedic surgeon Linda who performed the operation as “an amazingly friendly cat”. The operation was major surgery which meant that Simba would find it difficult to eat and had to have many stitches in his mouth. He had to stay in for four nights and during this time he was fed through a tube.

All of the staff here were amazed by Simba and Linda said “Unfortunately Simba had cancer in his jaw bone and underwent major surgery to remove one side of his lower jaw. All the time he stayed in our hospital he never once tried to bite or scratch us, he always rubbed against our hands. His bravery and determination to survive overwhelmed us. The day after the surgery he lapped up food despite all the stitches in his mouth. A hero of cats, who loves his chin tickled”.

Simba’s owners described his recovery once he had been discharged to go home.

“When we brought Simba home from the Park Issa vet hospital we weren’t sure how he would be but on the first night he was asking for food and when it was bedtime he ran upstairs and insisted on getting under the covers, between us in his usual spot. We both had a few bumps and scrapes from his “cone” under the duvet in the first couple of weeks!

Simba’s sister, Sheba, was not impressed by this strange beast with a cone on its head, and it wasn’t until Simba had had his stitches removed and we could remove the cone that she really came round and started treating him like her brother again.

Simba has always let Duncan know it is time for breakfast, which could be at any point between 4.30am and 7am, by sitting on him and biting his ears. We knew Simba was well on the road to recovery after his operation when he started doing this again, although it still feels odd with less teeth doing the biting.

In the first few days home after Simba’s op we had to give him small and frequent meals as he struggled to eat much at once, and also as he was eating such small amounts if we gave him too much he was sick. Now he is back on normal sized portions and is clearly delighted that he is even allowed cat biscuits and Dreamies.  He is a bit of a messy eater these days and he can find it easier to lick food up rather than pick it up.  That said, we will take a messy eater any day rather than the alternative!

Apart from being a little bit messy with his food the only other real signs of what he has been through are that he drools a little bit now, and sometimes his tongue pokes out a bit to the side where he has had his jawbone removed. He still loves cuddles and fuss and his food, and is extremely playful.  He has always been a terrible hunter but last week Duncan had to intervene when he almost caught a pigeon on our flat roof!!”

Everyone here at Park Issa thinks Simba is a hero and we were all pleased that he has done so well since the op,. He hasn’t finished his journey with us but the fact that he has been so friendly even when going through major operations makes him a star in our eyes.