Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Picabu and the Pink Sweater

(Post author: Lauren Pagonis, Registered Veterinary Technician at VCA VRA) Picabu is a four-year-old Singapura cat who originally came to VCA on February 12, to have a congenital hiatal hernia repaired by Dr. Saylor. Her original surgery went well and Picabu seemed to be on the mend, so she went home on February 13. Later in the week, Picabu was not feeling well and was regurgitating. Her mom brought her back to our hospital on February 18 to see Dr. Anne Stoneham. Picabu was diagnosed with megaesophagus and esophagitis. Megaesophagus occurs when the esophageal muscles lose their tone and are no longer able to function properly to facilitate food moving into the stomach. Esophagitis is inflammation of the lining of the esophagus. We are not sure what caused Picabu to develop these conditions. We were unable to get Picabu’s esophagitis under control with medications alone, so a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube was placed. A PEG tube is a special feeding tube that goes directly into the stomach from outside the body wall. In Picabu’s case, we could feed her by bypassing her inflamed esophagus.

Cats are notorious lickers and like to keep themselves clean. Picabu was no exception to the rule. We kept both an e-collar and “surgi sock” T-shirt on little Picabu. Due to her small size, the “T-shirt” did not fit very well and after the addition of the e-collar, it was difficult for Picabu to move around. Picabu needed something that would be a snug fit around her body and cover the feeding tube so she could not lick or chew on it; she needed her very own custom made crocheted sweater! 

I have been crocheting since I was ten years old. I have made sweaters in the past for my own pets, but Picabu’s sweater had to be constructed with a ‘special’ design. It had to fit tightly enough to keep the PEG tube against her body or the tube might pull on the sutures and pinch. It also had to be long enough to cover the whole PEG tube so Picabu could not lick or bite it. On Thursday February 26, my day off, I sat with Picabu in my lap for three hours and made her a perfectly fitting pink sweater.

I recently received an update from Picabu’s mom who stated that unless her sweater is being washed, Picabu wears it all the time. It has helped her maintain a nearly normal cat life; she doesn’t need the dreaded e-collar, or ill-fitting surgi sock T- shirt. I am in the process of making Picabu a second sweater. This time her gift will be crocheted in green to match her eyes. Picabu is such a special cat and it is wonderful for me to be able to use my talents to allow her the comfort she so deserves. 


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