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So you think YOU had a tough day....

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Sunday 02/24/08

Every other Sunday I work as a volunteer at a stray/feral cat spay/neuter clinic--I just got home from today's clinic. We neutered over 100 cats and lost seven; my feet are sore and I'm tired. But my day wasn't nearly as bad as that of one of the patients, and not one we lost. As I said, this was a spay/neuter clinic--the cat in question was "spayed" and neutered!

I work in the recovery area, and when this cat came out of the OR his belly had been shaved and there was a sutured abdominal incision, indicating spay surgery. The paperwork was incomplete--the vet is supposed to put his name on it and indicate the type of surgery done, and this wasn't done. The comments section simply stated that a uterus could not be found. I was ready to send the paperwork back so that it could be completed when I took a closer look at the cat and noticed a weenie and two very prominent "bowling balls"--this cat was obviously well-endowed.

We quite frequently encounter cryptorchid cats--these are cats with either one or both testicles undescended, and those testicles are removed through an abdominal incision. But this poor boy was very clearly not such a case--one would had to have been blind to miss his package. So back to the OR he went to have the correct surgery done.

When he returned to recovery, he was innoculated and eartipped; the latter so that others would know he was already neutered. The left eartip is cut off and the wound is cauterized with an electric wand. Sometimes the hair around the eartip will flame slightly, but this guy's ear damn near turned into cat flambe. OK, that's manageable--that wound heals pretty quickly and the cat normally doesn't experience too much discomfort from the healing process. But it can be quite painful if done when the cat is awake. Yep, you guessed it--he woke up during the procedure. I suppose we can be grateful that feral cats don't have malpractice/personal injury lawyers. The cat was probably damn grateful just to get out of there and go to a recovery cage for the next few days instead of a disreputable Chinese restaurant....
post #2 of 9
That's horrible!!! That poor, poor cat!
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
He's now recovering nicely in the home of a fellow trapper, who will be releasing him later this week. Since being "tutored", I'm assuming he will now be smart enough to avoid such things as traps and clinics. The lawyer thingie is still up in the air....
post #4 of 9
My question is about the 7 out of 100 you lost. Is this normal? What were the causes? I'm sure you're working on animals whose health would have to be described as "fragile."
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
One died in the OR after being anesthetized. Those kinds of deaths occur frequently but not routinely, and tend to be due to an underlying health problem in the cat itself. A congenital heart problem may not normally manifest itself but may be fatal to a cat while undergoing surgery.

Keep in mind that even for tame housecats surgery is a trauma, and it's even more so for strays and ferals who are under a greater stress load just by being handled by unfamiliar humans. They are given an anesthetic shot, usually a tranquilizer like Ketamine, which not only knocks them out but depresses bodily functions. If a cat has a potentially fatal congenital defect, this trauma may trigger it. Absent an autopsy (seldom if ever done) we really don't know why a cat dies in the OR and can only speculate.

The others were euthanized. They may have been sick or badly injured and not expected to recover, or they may have tested positive for FIV or FELV. I personally ordered one cat to be euthanized because she was FELV positive. I hated doing that, but she was to be released into a stray/feral colony had she checked out negative. I cannot responsibly expose my other cats to such a readily transmissible and untreatable disease, nor can I permit the infected cat to die slowly and painfully--and that would certainly have been the case. Been there, done that; don't want to go through it again.

The flip side was a cat who otherwise might have been euthanized because he was FIV positive. He already had been determined to be friendly and adoptable, and I have local contacts for such "special needs" cats.

It's pretty much the luck of the draw. I've participated in clinics where we've operated on over a hundred cats and not lost a one, but most of the time we do lose a few. Seven is a high number for us, and we were not happy about it--but there was nothing else to be done.

We were more disturbed by the number of advanced pregnancies we had to terminate. Such surgeries take a considerable psychological and emotional toll on the OR staff, and such an early start to "kitten season" means that we have a grim year ahead of us....
post #6 of 9
I thank you for taking care of these cats. You are doing hard hard work and I admire you for it.

I'm so sorry about that boy. Someone in the OR must have been dazed with so many neuter/spays.
post #7 of 9
That's why our kitties receive "pre-anesthetic" testing before going under for any type of surgery. Feral kitties don't have that choice because of the expense.

I'm so sorry for the kitty and the day! I'm glad he's recovering and doing well.

to you for all you do.

post #8 of 9
*big hugs*
post #9 of 9
I appreciate the info. I was pretty sure that was the case, but I'm one of those people who like to know the "why" of unusual situations.
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