Layla hops to it on surgery

Raff on the operating table. 171267

By Justin Flynn

Layla Merritt is a veterinary nurse, a wildlife foster carer and volunteers with Wildlife Victoria Rescue, so it’s no surprise that she loves animals.
Layla, from Ocean Grove, has kept tree frogs for seven years and cats for six years. Often the two simply don’t mix.
A lot of wildlife is killed by cats every day. Even if not killed directly, the bacteria from cats’ claws and mouths is so infectious it can also kill humans.
Layla’s cats enjoy sitting around the terrarium during frog feeding time, as many crickets escape and the cats love to chase the crickets and eat them.
“Unfortunately this time while my husband was feeding them, it wasn’t just a cricket that jumped out, so did one of the frogs,” Layla said.
“And of course my cat, without hesitation, pounced on the frog.”
The frog, a red-eyed green tree frog named Raff, was quickly retrieved and put her back into the terrarium.
“I was horrified to find a horrible wound on her belly,” Layla said.
“Her skin had been torn and ripped down most of her abdomen. You could see where the cat’s claw had torn her open.”
Being a cat attack, Raff’s prognosis was poor.
“I didn’t know whether to save her or euthanise her, however it was 10pm so I had to do something,” Layla said.
“Being a wildlife rescuer I had my first-aid kit on hand. It was important to kill any bacteria from the cat. I then patched her up with a small bandage to protect the wound overnight.”
Layla took Raff to work with her the following day and it was a first for all of the veterinary team. Nobody had ever anaesthetised a frog, let alone conducted surgery. But they did some research and decided to give Raff a fighting chance.
Eventually Raff survived the operation, but her chances were still not good. Raff was taken home to receive antibiotic baths, as frogs absorb everything through their skin.
“About a week after surgery her wound was not looking good,” Layla said.
“Some of the tissue had started to die off. So we removed it, thinking the worst. But under the dead tissue the wound had healed wonderfully. She is still going strong and people are still following her progress. She is a little trouper to not only survive a cat attack, anaesthetic and surgery, but to also heal the way she has is amazing.”