Alfie and the Porcupine

Alfie and the Porcupine

Yesterday when I journeyed up to the lynx enclosure to feed Alfie and Linky their breakfast and immediately could tell something was not right. Always waiting at the gate when I arrive, eager for breakfast, Alfie was nowhere in sight. I walked up to the top of the enclosure searching for him and found him in his den with a snout and paws filled with porcupine quills. Sanctuary founder, Lesley and I contacted the vet and quickly set off on anesthetizing Alfie and removing the quills.

Along with caregiver in training, Rhianna, the three of us pulled out about 100 quills from Alfie’s head, snout, arms, inside his mouth, inside his nostrils and from his paws. It seemed as if the quills were never ending, finding a dozen more every time we did “one last check”.

In the wild a predator might starve to death after taking so many quills to the mouth, unable to eat. Porcupine quills  are naturally antiseptic, so an animal could not push the quills out via infection. Alfie was fortunate that we were able to get them out for him and I was fortunate that Lesley had experience with this process and knew what to do. I can definitely say my job is never boring and I’m always learning new things. Alfie is now feeling 100% better and back to his old self. Hopefully he knows better than to chase a porcupine again!

This was the first time I had been present while Alfie was under anesthesia and had the opportunity to really examine his paws. This is when I truly realized the long term damage that big cats face when they are declawed. In an attempt to make big cats easier to handle as pets, it is common for owners to remove their claws. This is not just removing a nail, but an amputation of the first digit. I saw the partially exposed amputated bone on his paws and realized how much it must hurt for him to walk at times and what an unnatural thing humans put him through in order to try to fit him into their lifestyle.

We were able to remove the porcupine quills from Alfie because at the sanctuary we have access and training for anesthetic drugs, however if your pet ever ends up in this same situation it is NOT recommended to remove the quills without a vet. Many of the quills had broken off and were barely visible from the surface, but once we pulled them out we saw that they were over an inch long embedded in the skin. It would be very easy to miss quills or to leave broken off ends, which would pose danger to the animal. For more information about what to do if your pet finds itself in a fight with a porcupine visit the links below

The Prickly Problem With Porcupine Attacks on Dogs

How to Remove Porcupine Quills

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Kaleigh R., Caregiver