A cat from Newtownabbey is thought to be the oldest feline in the world to successfully undergo an operation.
Sasha, who is thought to be at least 31 years old (141 in human years), was successfully treated by her namesake Sasha Fraser, a vet at Vets4Pets Newtownabbey, after developing a growth on her nose that was blocking her nostrils and affecting her breathing.
The moggy was rescued by her owner, Elizabeth O’Neill, in 1991 and was thought to be at least five years old at the time; meaning she is likely to be one of the oldest living cats in the world.
Within a week of her operation Sasha was back home sleeping in her favourite spot and demanding her favourite food of chicken, pork slices and mince.
“When Sasha developed the growth, she was struggling to breathe and because of her age, we thought we would lose her,” said Elizabeth.
“But when we met the vet Sasha, we knew our Sasha was in the best hands. Indeed thanks to the amazing skills of our vet, the operation went even better than planned.”
Sasha’s life has seen her use up a number of her nine lives including overcoming a poisoning attempt and broken ribs, which has left her with permanent dent in her left side.
Elizabeth first noticed a very skinny looking Sasha while exercising her horse at a stables in Ballyrobert, eventually taking her home after realising she was homeless.
“She was just skin and bones, and following me around the stables looking for help,” added Elizabeth.
“I couldn’t just let her struggle and decided to look after, by providing her with a better life.
“After taking Sasha to a vet, I was told she was at least five years old and had suffered from broken ribs, from either having been hit by a car or kicked.
“Sadly there was nothing that could be done to fix her rib injury as it had happened too long ago, so she was left with the permanent reminder of the injury.
“She has lived a full life, and often took herself off for adventures in the neighbourhood, sometimes for days at a time – but she always came home.
“And now thanks to Sasha at Vets4Pets Newtownabbey, she’s back home once again after using another one of her nine lives.”
The operation to remove the growth from Sasha’s nose was complicated, not only because of her age, but also due to existing issues with her kidneys, which means the anaesthetic is riskier.
“We felt the best option was to remove the growth and hope she had the strength to recover. During the anaesthetic she got IV fluids and we were able to use special monitoring equipment to help keep her safe.
“If we had left her, the growth around her nose eventually would have stopped her from being able to breath.
“Everyone at the practice was so pleased to see her go home knowing we’d played a part in helping Sasha continue her long-lived life.”
Now Sasha, who is also deaf, is back home she’s back to her usual self, wandering in the garden and sleeping in her favourite spot next to the kitchen radiator.
“It’s simply fantastic to have Sasha home thanks to the amazing skills of Sasha (the vet), and it’s lovely when she calls out to check I’m there or to ask for food,” said Elizabeth.
“She sleeps most of the time now, but on sunny days still takes herself into the garden to enjoy the warmth.
“Unfortunately she isn’t as agile as she used to be, so climbing the fence to see the neighbours is beyond her.
“I don’t know how many lives she has left, but she’s definitely made the most of her 31 years and who knows how many more she has left.”
The last feline to hold the Guinness World Record for being the oldest living cat was 30-year-old Scooter, a kitty from Texas.
Sadly he died last May, just days after winning the title so currently there is no record holder.
A spokeswoman for Guinness World Records said they would love to hear Sasha’s story and urged her owners to apply for the title.
She said: “We don’t currently have a record holder for the oldest cat living as our previous holder sadly passed away last year.
“This is one of our iconic record categories and we’re always excited to hear about new potential record holders.”