A couple of years ago, a veterinarian at a local veterinary hospital was having trouble treating a cat’s fractured skull, and asked the staff to use a makeshift tool.
The tool was an old, plastic straw, but it worked.
And so the staff took a plastic straw from the veterinarian’s office and put it on their own head.
“It’s just really convenient for me to have my own, and for my cat,” says the vet.
But for many vets, it’s just too cumbersome.
They can’t take their cats’ heads off for treatment without using a mask or using a surgical mask.
And even though the plastic straw works, some vets worry about the potential risks.
Dr. Richard C. Pohlman, a pediatric surgeon at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, says he’s seen several cats who died from the plastic mask.
“A lot of times we’ll take a little bit of plastic straw and take it out and put the cat on a ventilator,” he says.
“And then we’ll put the plastic over the ventilators and it’ll just drip over the cat’s mouth and into the vent.
And the cat can’t breathe.”
“It’ll just kill the cat,” he adds.
“That’s what I think of when I think about the plastic.”
For now, Dr. Pills says, he prefers using a scalpel.
“When we see cats with a fracture, we’ll use a scalper,” he explains.
“We’ll take the bone away, and then we cut a piece of the bone and it’s attached to the skull, it doesn’t get embedded in the skull.”
“We’ve tried many things with the plastic, but the plastic’s not good for the cat at all,” Dr. Coyle says.
And it doesn.
“In the case of a fractured skull that’s just one piece of plastic, there’s no blood vessels that can supply oxygen to the brain,” Dr Pills explains.
But if you can’t remove the plastic from the head, you can try putting it on the head.
Dr Pohlmans colleague Dr. Paul B. Biederman has been using a plastic mask since 2007 and says it’s not the worst.
“For me personally, it works great,” he notes.
“I’m very glad it’s plastic.”