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Recent Loss of Cat

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
My 4 year old cat recently died while they were taking blood from him at the vet. Someone referred me to this forum for comments/answers. The thing that makes this worse is that this is the 2nd cat of mine that has died this way.

The most recent cat has always been overweight, so he loved to eat. A couple of weeks ago, his appetite dropped. He was still eating, but not nearly as much. After about 5 days of this, I took him to the vet. They did bloodwork, which didn't show any problems, but he did have a fever. They gave him a shot of antibiotics, and sent him home with more antibiotics and valium, treating it as a fever of unknown origin. He got better, was back to normal eating, but after about a week, his appetite dropped again. This happened on a Saturday, so I couldn't take him to the vet until Monday. Saturday he slowly stopped eating his hard food. I could give him tuna fish or wet cat food, and he loved that. Saturday morning we also noticed he had his ears flat and kept shaking his head and scratching his ears. He also started throwing up a lot, mostly hair balls. This went on through Sunday. We also noticed on Sunday that he was not laying at his normal places. He started sleeping behind our TV stand and in our unfinished basement. It seemed like he wanted to get away from us. This was a cat that has always been extremely friendly and loving. I even took him outside in the sun on Sunday, and he seemed very happy. We fed him his wet food throughout the day on Sunday, and he ate that right up. When we got up Monday a.m. and fed him, he wouldn't eat his wet food. He had also thrown up several times over night. I gave him a valium, which seemed to help him before, with his hunger and contentment, but he threw that up. I took him to the vet that morning. They checked him, and he had a fever again, but his ears looked fine, and the examination didn't reveal anything. They took him back for blood, and eventually told me to come back, and I saw my cat who was no longer breathing, as they tried to revive him. They were unsuccessful. I stood there thinking I cannot believe this is happening to me a second time. How often do cats die while they are drawing blood? They did an autopsy, and nothing came up, and we are waiting for results on his heart and other tissues from a pathologist.

With my previous cat, it was a little different. She was 12, almost 13 years old when this happened. She had an exam in October, and everything was fine. She weighed 14 lbs at the time. In November, she began having diarrhea. I took her to the vet, and she had a tapeworm. SHe got medicine for that, and in December had a reevaluation, and the tapeworm was gone. I believe she was around 11 lbs then. We expected her to begin gaining weight again, but she didn't. She continued to have diarrhea, but did not have a tapeworm. Between December and March, she was back and forth several times, we tried different medications (I believe one was for something like colitis), but she continued to lose weight. In March, I took her for bloodwork. By this time, she was down to 7 lbs and you could feel her spine when you petted her. So she had halved her body weight in 5 months. They took her back for blood, and I could tell something was going on, and finally the vet came out and said they were trying to revive her, because her heart stopped. They came out later and told me she had died. I was shocked, however, given her age and weight loss, this one wasn't as much of a shock. The vet said one of the things she could have had was hyperthyroidism, and after I looked this up on the internet, she had all of the symptons, so that would probably explain this.

The latest cat is the hardest for me, because he was so young, and was previously healthy. He had been at the vet a year ago for a urinary tract infection, which I understand is common with male cats. I just wonder if this is common for cats' hearts to stop while retrieving blood, or if I just have back luck.
post #2 of 11
dch123, I'm so sorry for your loss. What terrible circumstances to have lost 2cats this way. I have never heard of a cat dying while blood was being drawn.

I did a search on valium use in cats. It has many uses, including being an appetite stimulant, but it doesn't seem to be prescribed for that purpose much. One site (www.veterinarypartner.com) says valium's "sedating properties preclude it from being the drug of choice for this purpose (appetite stimulation)."

It also goes on to say that in cats, liver failure has been reported after several days use of valium. They recommend bloodwork be done to check liver enzymes before its use, and then again several days after starting the drug.

I've had vets prescribe vitamin B12, or periactin for appetite stimulation, which are pretty common. I wonder why your vet chose valium.

You don't mention how many days your cat was on valium, but IMO it seems your vet should have been monitoring him more carefully.

As far as your other cat, you say she was "back and forth" (I assume you mean to the vet) several times between December and March and was consistently losing weight during that time. As you say, she suffered a large weight loss, from 11 lbs. down to 7. Why did your vet wait until March to do more bloodwork? It's simple to test for hyperthyroid as part of the bloodwork - your vet could easily have determined if this was the case. It's also a very treatable condition. This should have been one of the things your vet did long before your kitty was only 7 lbs.

I'm sorry to sound so harsh about your vet, and maybe I've got things wrong.
But from what you posted, this doesn't sound right to me.

Again, I'm very sorry about both of your kitties.
post #3 of 11
First of all, my deepest sympathy for your losses. I know what it is like to lose a young cat who should have many more years ahead. It's devastating.

That said, I think the deaths happening during the blood draw was more coincidental than anything. It sounds like the common denominator was that they were both very, very sick when they went in. What you describe really points towards major organ failure for most cats (not eating, rapid weight loss, vomiting/diarrhea-dehydration) Add to that the stress of being in the vets office...it really may just be that they were so close to the end and that just happened to be where it occurred.

Sometimes we never get any clear answers. It's frustrating, I know. But, I would not allow these situations to make you think that blood draws are something cat owners should avoid. Honestly, what you experienced seems to be rare. Well, I am sure it has happened before, but just like during a surgical procedure there are sometimes deaths. And they usually are the result of the underlying health issues that made them need surgery.

But, either way...none of that helps ease your suffering. It's never easy to lose a loved one, furry or not. Again, I am so sorry for your losses. I hope you can get some answers as to why your cat died.
post #4 of 11
My heart breaks for you. I'm just so awful sorry.

May I ask a couple of questions?

1. Were these two cats related to each other? My thought is that they might both have had some kind of congenital problem that made needles somehow more risky for them... perhaps a clotting issue of some sort that caused an embolism or something? I don't know that such an abnormality exists, though -- I'm just raising the question.

2. If not related, did both cats come from the same previous household or shelter? Maybe they were both exposed to something at some point -- a disease or contaminant of some kind -- that made them vulnerable in this way. Again, just raising the question.

3. Was this the same pet hospital both times? The same vet and/or the same vet techs involved in the procedure? If so, I have to wonder... perhaps they administer some sort of anesthesia or temporary paralytic to keep the cat still while they draw the blood -- do you know whether that's how they do it? If so, I imagine that an overdose could have caused this... and for it to happen twice, someone there must be severely incompetent.

But... what if someone in that place has some kind of sick euthanasia compulsion? It's a bizarre thought, yes... but it's happened many times with people, so it stands to reason it can happen with animals, too. A terrifying thought.

Nothing can bring your babies back, of course... but if you can figure out how this happened, whatever it was, you might be able to keep it from happening to someone else's cat.

May your two darlins rest in peace... and may you find it in your heart soon to welcome another kitty into your life.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
1. No, they were not related to each other.

2. They also didn't come from the same household or shelter.

3. Yes, it was at the same pet hospital both times - same vet but I think different technicians. The vet does not assist in the procedure though. The techs do it alone. There was no medication given, but I know they put both cats in a zippered bag where only their head sticks out, which I hate to think of.

I really don't think it was anything deliberate, ilke you suggested. I have always like this place.

Thanks for your input. I will get another cat soon, but I have to mourn first.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
That is a little disturbing what you are saying about valium. Of course I had not done any research on this. They did do bloodwork before he was put on this, and his liver was fine. He was on valium for a little over a week, but he hadn't taken it every day, only if he wasn't eating.

Thank you for your comments and support.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KTLynn View Post
dch123, I'm so sorry for your loss. What terrible circumstances to have lost 2cats this way. I have never heard of a cat dying while blood was being drawn.

I did a search on valium use in cats. It has many uses, including being an appetite stimulant, but it doesn't seem to be prescribed for that purpose much. One site (www.veterinarypartner.com) says valium's "sedating properties preclude it from being the drug of choice for this purpose (appetite stimulation)."

It also goes on to say that in cats, liver failure has been reported after several days use of valium. They recommend bloodwork be done to check liver enzymes before its use, and then again several days after starting the drug.

I've had vets prescribe vitamin B12, or periactin for appetite stimulation, which are pretty common. I wonder why your vet chose valium.

You don't mention how many days your cat was on valium, but IMO it seems your vet should have been monitoring him more carefully.

As far as your other cat, you say she was "back and forth" (I assume you mean to the vet) several times between December and March and was consistently losing weight during that time. As you say, she suffered a large weight loss, from 11 lbs. down to 7. Why did your vet wait until March to do more bloodwork? It's simple to test for hyperthyroid as part of the bloodwork - your vet could easily have determined if this was the case. It's also a very treatable condition. This should have been one of the things your vet did long before your kitty was only 7 lbs.

I'm sorry to sound so harsh about your vet, and maybe I've got things wrong.
But from what you posted, this doesn't sound right to me.

Again, I'm very sorry about both of your kitties.
post #7 of 11
dch123 - Regarding drawing blood, I'm very surprised to learn that at your animal hospital "the vet does not assist in the procedure." I've had cats for over 20 years, and been to many vets, and never have I seen a vet leave that procedure to a tech.

In my experience, it's always been the exact opposite - the *vet* draws the blood, with the techs only there to assist with holding the cat still on the exam table. A cat should not have to be restrained in a zippered bag unless they are very aggressive. Drawing blood obviously requires locating and puncturing a vein, which in some kitties can be difficult since veins can be quite small. That's why the expertise of a vet is required.

I hope you can clarify something for me about your older kitty. During the time she was losing so much weight, which seems to have started in November, going through to March, did you actually take her to see the vet or was the vet just prescribing meds for her without an office visit? If your cat did not see the vet during that time, did you speak to the vet about the cat's weight loss?

It seems strange to me that after you poor cat died, the vet would first mention to you that she might have been hyperthyroid. Why wasn't that possibility considered way back in December, when she was already down from 14 lbs to 11 lbs? And why didn't the vet test for that? As I've said, hyperthyroidism is very treatable.

I know I've brought this up in my previous post, but it bothers me that your vet's speculation about what it *could* have been only came up when it was too late for your cat. Of course, if you hadn't brought your cat in to actually see the vet, there was nothing the vet could have done.

I wouldn't have discussed this again if you hadn't mentioned getting another cat someday. But since that's a possibility, you need to make sure that your vet and her assistants are truly competent if you intend to keep using them.

I'm very sorry that the loss of your babies is what brought you to TCS. Many of us understand what you're going through right now - and you're right, you need to mourn your little ones before you give your heart and home to another cat.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Of course I do not know what is normal. When they took the first blood sample a couple of weeks ago, the techs took the cat, and I asked the vet if they do it, and he said yes, they are pretty good at it. I have asked other friends, and they said their vet does it. When my older cat died, I was actually told I can wait in the lobby, so I only assumed the vet did it, but I am guessing now that is not the case.

My older cat was pretty nasty at the vet, so the bag does not surprise me. However, they had told me they were going to sedate her to draw her blood, and they then decided she didn't need sedation, but they still used this bag. The recent cat was the nicest, calmest catch (and actually had no claws - front or back - which is how he was when we got him from the pound), so I can't imagine he needed to be put in a bag.

The older cat was in and out of the vet many times while she was losing this weight. One thing I can say was that there was a part-time retired vet working there who saw her most of these times. He thought she was losing weight because of stomach problems (colitis), and didn't suggest blood work. When I got an appt with the regular vet towards the end, he did suggest blood work, but at that time I think it was too late (she was down to 7 lbs).

I've said before, I dont' want to blame anybody, but I don't think I can go back there again, regardless. I think if I took another cat in there that was sick, and they wanted to draw blood, I would freak out!

One thing I can say in support of the vet is, they offered to do an autopsy and send the heart, lung tissue to a pathologist to determine what happened. They are concerned about what happened. I am just doubting having the techs do the blood drawing without the vet there, and also not having me there with the cat. It makes me a little uneasy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KTLynn View Post
dch123 - Regarding drawing blood, I'm very surprised to learn that at your animal hospital "the vet does not assist in the procedure." I've had cats for over 20 years, and been to many vets, and never have I seen a vet leave that procedure to a tech.

In my experience, it's always been the exact opposite - the *vet* draws the blood, with the techs only there to assist with holding the cat still on the exam table. A cat should not have to be restrained in a zippered bag unless they are very aggressive. Drawing blood obviously requires locating and puncturing a vein, which in some kitties can be difficult since veins can be quite small. That's why the expertise of a vet is required.

I hope you can clarify something for me about your older kitty. During the time she was losing so much weight, which seems to have started in November, going through to March, did you actually take her to see the vet or was the vet just prescribing meds for her without an office visit? If your cat did not see the vet during that time, did you speak to the vet about the cat's weight loss?

It seems strange to me that after you poor cat died, the vet would first mention to you that she might have been hyperthyroid. Why wasn't that possibility considered way back in December, when she was already down from 14 lbs to 11 lbs? And why didn't the vet test for that? As I've said, hyperthyroidism is very treatable.

I know I've brought this up in my previous post, but it bothers me that your vet's speculation about what it *could* have been only came up when it was too late for your cat. Of course, if you hadn't brought your cat in to actually see the vet, there was nothing the vet could have done.

I wouldn't have discussed this again if you hadn't mentioned getting another cat someday. But since that's a possibility, you need to make sure that your vet and her assistants are truly competent if you intend to keep using them.

I'm very sorry that the loss of your babies is what brought you to TCS. Many of us understand what you're going through right now - and you're right, you need to mourn your little ones before you give your heart and home to another cat.
post #9 of 11
I'm stunned that the semi-retired vet who saw your older kitty never did bloodwork on her, but only *assumed* her problem was colitis. He may have been right about the colitis, but not to do bloodwork was a terrible mistake, IMO. How could he be certain that there was nothing else going on that needed to be treated?

Bloodwork is so basic, that it's the first thing that vets do, for darn near every condition that would bring a cat to an animal hospital. I'm glad that you won't go there again.

Thank you for answering my questions - I know this is all very painful for you. I'm glad you found TCS and I hope you'll continue to be a member. I also wanted to thank you for adopting your male cat from the pound - that was a wonderful thing to do. He passed away far too young, but I'm very glad that he had you to love him.
post #10 of 11
Welcome to TCS, I am so sorry for your losses. I certainly would be finding a different vet - while I have known vet nurses take blood, I have had nearly 20 blood tests done on various cats over a few years, and none have had any probs, so I do think it was coincidental with the fact that they were both very poorly cats. I have had cats turn aggressive while bloods, one had a mild sedation, one has to have an anaesthetic gel on her skin, never anything like a zippered bag. They have had to use a kitty muzzle on one of mine, but that was for injections, she wasn't too bad at her bloods being taken!! I dont rate the vet that treated your older cat either. Good luck in finding a new vet, and RIP babies.
post #11 of 11
I think you're getting some very intelligent and thoughtful responses here. Let me add one thing, for what it's worth:

When my Clyde was neutered, it was done at an excellent pet hospital with an outstanding reputation and a terrific primary doctor in whom I have great faith. But techs come and go... and one of the techs made a mistake.

I had asked them to use the "good" anesthetic that would cost about $60 extra, but would allow Clyde to wake up quickly and without the neural dysfunction that lingers for hours after the cheaper anesthetic. I don't know how it happened, but they simply used the wrong thing, and Clyde went through a couple of hours of disorientation and lack of coordination. (Luckily, I had stayed and was able to hold him during this time.)

The thing is, I didn't know enough about all this at that time to realize what had happened -- I just thought, Gosh, if that's the good anesthetic, what's the bad one like? But when I checked out, the bill was $60 lower than I expected, so I said, "Oh, you forgot to charge for the special anesthetic." The woman just shook her head and said, "Don't worry about it." Even though it was not a tragedy like yours, this woman didn't tell me they'd made a mistake... I just figured it out later on, from things I read about the medicines involved.

So... if your kitties were difficult to draw from and someone decided to go ahead and use the sedative after all... they might have kept that from you, to protect themselves.

My point is that I'm really glad you don't plan to go back there... and I wonder if you might want to talk to the vet licensing board in your state about what happened. At the very least, someone should look into whether there are other similar cases among that vet's clients.

Whatever you decide to do, my thoughts are with you.
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