The First Pacemaker Placed in a Cat in Singapore

The First Pacemaker Placed in a Cat in Singapore. Singapore, 7th June 2013 - Socks, is a 10 year old cat that was found to be…

Read more

Singapore's First Pet Specialist Clinic – Landon Veterinary Specialist

Landon Veterinary Specialists | The Only Clinic With Premium Pet Care And Specialised Surgical Services

The First Pacemaker Placed in a Cat in Singapore

Singapore, 7th June 2013 - Socks, is a 10 year old cat that was found to be falling over a lot when he was walking. His GP vet suspected he had a brain tumour and sent him to a specialist surgeon, Dr Ben Landon, so he could have a consultation and a brain scan. He was found to have a heart issue which required a pacemaker. One was sourced for Socks and implanted into him. Presently, Socks is behaving like he is a kitten again with his pacemaker.

Pacemaker implants in humans are commonplace but rare in dogs and even more rare in cats. This is a first in Singapore. Even in an old and established vet school like University of Minnesota, the specialists there have only just placed their first pacemaker in a cat this year!

The diagnostic process

Socks was brought in for a consultation with Dr Landon at the end of August 2012. He was found to be neurologically but very wary about jumping off the consultation table and even a chair. During the hour long consultation, he did not pass out or wobble when he walked. Dr Landon explained the diagnostic work-up that would have to be done to find out what was wrong with Socks.

In the following week, Socks was placed under general anaesthesia for the brain CT scan and a spinal tap at Landon Veterinary Specialists . He started to develop a very slow heart rate and his electrical impulses in his heart was very erratic (arrhythmia). His brain scan and spinal tap were normal.

Arrangements had to be made with a veterinary cardiologist to send over a cat-specific ECG holter monitor from Australia, so that Socks' cardiac electrical activity could be monitored continuously for 24 hours. There was a waiting list for this device. 2 months' later, it was finally Socks' turn. Socks had to wear sticky contact dots on his chest, which were connected to a recording device. The real time readings were then interpreted by the cardiologist. Socks was diagnosed with a third degree heart block and required a pacemaker, so that his heart does not sow down so much or even stop, causing Socks to die suddenly.

Sourcing a pacemaker for a cat

The race was on to seek a suitable pacemaker for a cat within Singapore. This was a challenge as it had never been done before. It had to be small and light enough to fit a cat.

Surgery day – 7th January 2013

The surgical team for the day at Landon Veterinary Specialists comprised of Dr Ben Landon(specialist surgeon), Dr Kieren Maddern (specialist anaesthetist), Dr Adoncia Thian(assistant surgeon), Ms Jodie Kedward(surgical nurse) and Ms Tee Huey Li (pacemaker technician).

Prior to surgery, an external pacer was placed into Socks' heart through his jugular vein to make sure the heart does not stop before the permanent pacemaker is implanted.

Dr Landon proceeded to surgically approach Socks' heart via an abdominal incision and then through the diaphragm. He then had to place a 'cockcrew' device into the heart muscle. Care had to be taken not to tear the heart muscle, which can lead to catastrophic fatal haemorrhage. When the lead was placed, the pacemaker technician then adjusted the pacemaker electronically and set it at a suitable heart rate for the Socks. So whenever Socks' heart slowed down or even stopped, the pacemaker would kick in and keep the heart ticking at a rate that Socks would not pass out.

Socks recovered well from the hour-long surgery. He was standing, meowing and purring within two hours of waking up from anaesthesia. Ms Tee Huey Li returned to check Socks' pacemaker again with a telemetry device and track how many times the pacemaker had to kick in since the implantation from the day before. It showed that the pacemaker prevented Socks from fainting several times through the night. Throughout his post-operative stay, Socks was a lot friendlier than before and he was purring and rubbing up against his carers at Landon Veterinary Specialists! Socks was discharged from the clinic two days after surgery.

Socks and Rebecca

Rebecca, Socks' owner, is overjoyed with the outcome of the procedure. He has not had a single fainting spell since the surgery. She reports that Socks is more active then before and no longer wobbles when he walks. She says that it was $12,000 well spent!