Angell Doctor without Borders: Surgeon Reconstructs Cats' Torn Face
An Update on "Edgar" and a Closer Look at the Doctor that Healed Her
Edgar had gone missing for several days in the wintry weather. The female, domestic, long-haired cat, finally returned home, but to her owner’s shock, half of Edgar’s face had been skinned off and was hanging down loosely on the side of her head. Her owner rushed her to Angell Animal Medical Center. Angell’s Emergency and Critical Care (E/CC) staff evaluated the oddly still-purring Edgar and speculated that a fan belt had peeled off her face. She probably had hidden under the hood of a car to keep warm when the engine started. Angell staff was amazed that she remained calm and appeared to be unconcerned with her severe injury. Thankfully, Edgar was about to meet Dr. Pavletic.
To understand the advances of reconstructive surgeons today, you need only look as far as Dr. Pavletic’s resumé. After graduating from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1974, the young veterinarian became an intern at Angell. At the time, animals arrived regularly with severe injuries or ailments that frequently required humane euthanasia to avoid unnecessary suffering. One challenging case involved a cat with a tumor on his face. Using conventional techniques, veterinary surgeons could not remove such a tumor and successfully close the incision. The young doctor looked at the contemporary general limitations of veterinary surgery as a challenge, and he sought answers in an old book in the library concerning human reconstructive surgery. A flap technique demonstrated in a human with a similar lesion became the model for successfully restoring the cat’s face. It was the beginning of Dr. Pavletic’s interest in plastic and reconstructive surgery for animals.
In 1998, Dr. Pavletic returned to Angell to become the director of surgery and exercise his talent for educating aspiring surgeons at the teaching animal hospital. Over the years he has become one of the “go-to surgeons” for a host of bizarre injuries and intricate oncology cases. Dr. Pavletic consults with other veterinary surgeons throughout the world regarding some of the most challenging cases they encounter.
As for Edgar, clearly she was in good hands. Dr. Pavletic prepped for Edgar’s surgery and performed an intense procedure involving the reattachment of Edgar’s face and suturing that restored her ability to blink. The once-missing cat was returned to her owner, with an intact face, happy and healthy. Edgar now joins the ranks of thousands of lives that have been restored thanks to Dr. Pavletic and his pursuit of the unconventional.
The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions of individuals who care about animals.