CLEARWATER, Fla. – Doctors performed a biopsy Wednesday at BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital on a 9-year-old female cougar in hopes of identifying the cause of a softball-sized growth on the underside of her neck.
Dr. Michael Reems, a board-certified veterinary surgeon with BluePearl, took several tissue and fluid samples from the cougar, named Maxie. The results will be tested for multiple diseases, including cancer.
“We’re not sure what the mass is right now,” said Reems. “It could be fungal, it could be an infection or it could be a tumor.”
Reems performed the procedure with Dr. Don Woodman, owner of Animal Hospital of Northwood in Safety Harbor, who has known Maxie since she was a kitten and has been overseeing her care. They had initially hoped to remove the growth, but an ultrasound showed it was connected to multiple blood vessels, including the carotid artery, and it was too risky to remove without knowing what was causing it.
Once the results of the biopsy are known, Reems and Woodman will determine how best to treat it, including the possibility of another surgery.
According to Woodman, caregivers noticed a swelling on the underside of Maxie’s neck a few weeks ago. When antibiotics failed to shrink the mass, Woodman contacted BluePearl for additional assistance.
BluePearl hospitals offer advanced treatment in many specialties, similar to human medicine. Depending on the hospital, this specialty care can include cardiology, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, surgery and others.
Maxie is cared for by Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
that mainly serves by assisting Florida law enforcement with animals that have been seized.
The organization also brought two 7-week-old male bobcat kittens to BluePearl on Wednesday to have their eyes examined by board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist Jessica Stine. The kittens, Minoos and Meowghi, both received a clean bill of health.