At first glance, 10-year-old Liza looks like a normal cat. But veterinarians in Poland are puzzled how she survives with almost half of her brain missing.
In July 2016, Liza was diagnosed with a meningioma and MRI and CT scans showed that the tumour filled almost the entire right half of her brain.
Liza’s owner Malgorzata Oppeln-Bronikowska and the veterinarians decided to go ahead with a risky tumour removal surgery.
Albeit not quite a standard procedure, the operation has been done on a regular basis by the team of surgeons and anaesthetists from the University of Environmental and Life Science in Wroclaw.
Normally the tumours are much smaller, said the head of surgery at the Wroclaw university, Prof. Zdzislaw Kielbowicz, adding he is astonished at how well Liza is doing after the removal of such a large tumour.
“We regularly perform this (type of) surgery, but the tumours, meningiomas, are usually much smaller, but if after the removal of such a large tumour everything comes back to normal as far as the vital functions are concerned, then it is undoubtedly a phenomenon,” he said.
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Liza’s chances of survival after the procedure were quite slim, Kielbowicz said. Just removing the portion of the skull cap and reaching the tumour took an hour and 15 minutes.
“You need to remember that brain or spinal cord surgery carries a series of risks and that is why what we are seeing here is an exceptional case.”
Oppeln-Bronikowska said that the cat’s recovery was very difficult and she took it one day at a time. She remembers Liza’s every step towards rehabilitation – the day she first stood up after surgery, when she began to walk, when she first ate on her own after being fed for months with a syringe.
“I was in tears with happiness,” she said. “She surprised us all.”
Six months after the surgery, there are no restrictions to Liza’s movements and the only visible sign she had major brain surgery is a delayed reaction of her left pupil.
Another noticeable difference is Liza doesn’t fight with her cat neighbours in the flat as often as she used to, finally living up to her nickname “Princess.”