Paws and Effect

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

A young calico was roaming the neighborhood and naturally found me. She seemed to have been an indoor/outdoor cat as she would walk in the house without hesitation. She would allow heself to be petted on her terms and it seemed to me that she that could be placed in the proper home. My husband took her to our vet for test and shots. He was told it took three people to hold her enough to draw the blood and give the shots. They sent home the Advantage and said they could not apply it. She did not eat for two days and hid. She never acted normal and had very little appetite. Seven days later I woke up and she was puling herself along the floor paralyzed from the waist down, and had thrown up a few times. I rushed her to the closet vet, who said she needed to be put down not knowing her history. So it was done. I have agonized over this. I asked my vet, the one who saw her, if she could have had a reaction to her shots. The answer was no. My intent was to have her spayed and place her. I feel the rough handling could have been avoided by a whiff of gas and a hurried exam. Am I wrong to feel that they caused some injury to her during the rough exam? I really think I am going to change vets as this has haunted me and I have no answer.

~ Sherry

Siouxsie: Sherry, we’re so sorry. What a heartbreaking and tragic end for your rescue kitty!

Thomas: Unfortunately, you may never know exactly what happened at the vet’s office that day.

"Hauskatze" by Flickr user Smial, distributed under a CC-BY-SA 3.0 license. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hauskatze_IMGP6728.jpg

Terrified cats can become extremely aggressive. Photo by Flickr user Smial, distributed under a CC-BY-SA 3.0 license.

Dahlia: Although your cat may have behaved better if she’d been sedated, it’s very hard to sedate a cat who’s squirming all over the place. Attempting to give an injection to a cat that’s writhing and screaming and carrying on can result in serious injury.

Siouxsie: When a cat is put under anesthesia, he’s typically placed in a small plexiglass box where he breathes a mixture of gas and air until he becomes unconscious. Again, it’s hard to put a struggling and fighting cat into a box the size of a cat carrier.

Thomas: Judging from what the staff told your husband, there’s no way the clinic staff could have sedated her without making the situation worse.

Dahlia: A lot of people do change veterinarians if they have a cat who died under the care of a vet they used regularly. It’s a normal grief response — and particularly so if you have questions about whether their handling of your cat may have resulted in her death.

Siouxsie: Whether and how you choose to change vets has a lot to do with the relationship you’ve had with your current vet so far.

Thomas: Have you felt that your current clinic has taken good care of your other cats?

Dahlia: Do you feel you’ve been able to communicate well with your vet and get the information you need in order to make decisions about your cats’ health care.

Siouxsie: Has the staff been courteous? Have they shown that they know how to handle cats properly when they’ve examined your other cats?

Thomas: If the answer to each of these questions is yes, it may be worth it to you to schedule some time to talk one-on-one with the vet who was in charge of the care of your little calico.

Dahlia: Ideally, your vet will want to help answer the questions you have about what happened to your cat at the clinic that day.

Siouxsie: But vets are human beings too, and some of them are better communicators than others.

Thomas: If you’d already been questioning whether you want to stay with your current vet, this may be the time to investigate your other options.

Dahlia: Remember, you’re grieving right now, and the rawest, most painful stage of grief is not a good time to make major decisions.

Siouxsie: Be gentle with yourself and try not to beat yourself up over this. You were genuinely trying to do a good thing for this cat — give her a home where she could be safe and loved for the rest of her life.

Thomas: What happened to your little calico cat is a tragedy. Please accept our heartfelt condolences. We hope you can talk to your vet and perhaps find some peace of mind.

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