All clear for Rhodri

We had a very special patient on our surgery table the other week when ophthalmologist Claudia Hartley came to visit. Apart from looking at the eyes of 17 of our moon bears with sight problems, Claudia also checked out Rhodri our resident leopard cat.

Rhodri has been with us since the year 2000. Belonging to an endangered species, he was raised as a kitten by a policeman who thought his wild cat was “cute”. Rhodri soon showed his true colours and, as he matured, soon showed the policeman who was boss.

Wisely, the policeman asked if we’d be willing to adopt his now not-so-cute hissing kitten and of course we agreed. Rhodri has been living in the lap of luxury ever since. He has an enclosure just opposite Bear House 2, which looks out over the Pi River and surrounding farmland. A proper diet and dedicated management by Pernille and her team and Rhodri is one happy, and very lucky leopard cat indeed. 

Understandably, the surgery room was full when Claudia was carrying out her eye test on Rhodri. None of us had ever touched him before – well with claws and canines matching a small tiger, you wouldn’t would you? But now, soundly sleeping under anaesthetic, he was blissfully unaware of fingers gently rubbing through his spotted/stripy fur. It was good to turn the tables on our (very professional) resident amateur photographer, Rainbow Zhu, who couldn’t resist holding Rhodri:

Vet nurse Wendy also took the opportunity of showing us how close to a moon bear Rhodri really was – take a look at the picture of his paw and see if you can see the teddy bear there!

With relief we heard Claudia’s conclusion about Rhodri’s condition: 

Rhodri was the softest and most impressive cat. He had a cataract in his left eye, which will need monitoring and surgery if it gets bigger. When I examined his retinas he also had areas of retinal degeneration in both eyes, which are likely to be due to poor nutrition as a kitten. Now he has a good diet, these areas won’t get any worse, but there is no treatment to cure them. It means he will have better peripheral vision, but his central vision will be poor. And that means he couldn’t hunt for himself, so could never be released.” 

And with one last cuddle before waking him up safely in his cat box (before transferring him back to his den), Rhodri was given a clean bill of health.

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