Shady, an eight-year-old tabby cat, was sent to Walker Green Vets in Timperley, Greater Manchester, for a regular assessment when his heart rate was observed to be abnormally slow.
The pet was then subjected to additional cardiology testing, which revealed that he had a total heart block, as described by the veterinarians.
He was at risk of heart failure as a result of his condition, but doctors believed a pacemaker could save his life.
The highly complex procedure was then carried out by a team of professionals. While pacemakers are widespread in humans, they are uncommon in other animals such as dogs and much rarer in cats.
Emma Greene, the clinic’s lead nurse, who aided with the treatment, said the team was a combination of excited and nervous.
“The treatment has not been conducted at Walker Green previously, so we wanted to make sure the day went as well as possible,” he continued.
The procedure, which was covered by Ms. Hutchinson’s insurance, entailed entering Shady’s heart through his stomach and attaching a special line to the outside of the muscle while it was still beating.
When Shady’s heart stops beating, this lead, which is connected to a pacemaker, detects it and transmits an electrical shock.
Veterinary cardiologist Emily Dutton of Cheshire Cardiology, surgeon Catherine Sturgeon of Visiting Vet Doctors, and veterinary anesthetist Carl Bradbrook were among the specialists engaged in the surgery.
“As the operation progressed and it came time to sew the lead to Shady’s heart, Catherine asked me to lift Shady’s sternum up so that she could get a good view, and I could feel his heart pounding on my finger,” Ms. Greene continued.
Because of their small, cats are rarely subjected to the operation. Whereas dogs’ veins are significantly larger and a pacemaker may be implanted by the shoulder, a cat’s pacemaker must be inserted through the abdomen.
In Singapore, a similar operation costs $5,000, which is around £3,500 in US money.
Shady was quickly sent home to rest. He just saw the team of specialists for his post-op check-up last week and is in good shape.
“He has healed incredibly well,” said Shady’s owner Laura Hutchinson, who said she was shocked and scared when she learned he needed a pacemaker. He’s a calm cat, so he’s been taking it easy, but he’s starting to get more playful.
“The team has been fantastic. Emily contacted us to see how Shady was doing, and Ben and his team took good care of us.”
“We’re all ecstatic that Shady has made such a full recovery,” Emma added. ‘It makes us proud that we were able to help Shady and his owner in this way.”