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Rabies, Autopsy and Poor Vet Performance - help

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hey there,

I need your input!

Over Christmas break my BF's 15 yr old maine coon got very sick in a matter of days and passed away.

The cat's symptoms started off with seizures (head twitching and drooling) that started off only happening a few times to 5x an hour. We called the emergency vet on call (for the whole town) and asked if we should bring him in (we thought it was an emergency - obviously) she told us it wasn't an emergency and he could wait till Monday (it was Sunday when we called); I thought this was odd but she was the professional and she thought it was ok... so she should know best. So my BF brought him in to the vet on Monday (another vet) and this vet said she would keep our cat over night and run blood tests (diabetes, kidney problems etc). Well several hours later we get a call and the vet who had him at her house said he was walking in circles and frothing at the mouth and becoming violent - she asked us if he had come into contact with another animal that MIGHT have rabies (we didn't think so... we have 4 other cats....mind u he was the only one who didnt have his rabies shot. So the vet asked our permission to give him a high sedative & antibiotics to ease the seizures since he was starting to have BIG seizures at her house (according to her) and to ease any inflammation he might have around his brain.

So the night goes on with no further calls... we get a call at 10am saying he is doing well and that they are going to take an X-ray to check for a possible brain tumor ( we were even preparing to drive him 4 hours away for a $$$ MRI - it didn't matter we loved him).

Then in less than an 2 hours we get a call that he passed away.

I asked to go to the clinic and see him and say, "Goodbye" and so does my BF. We get there and the vet was VERY unprofessional with us in the 'family room'. She brings our beloved kitty in and she jumps up on a table and starts kicking her feet around and asking us how long do we need (like being kinda pushy about time) and then says that she wouldn't get an autopsy if it were her (remember the night before she asked us if her had rabies and she KNEW we had 4 other cats... why the hell wouldnt we want to know... 4 other cats lives might be at stake!).

We request an autopsy. They test him for rabies (they have two tests here 1. for animal to animal contact 2. animal to human contact). We get a letter from the government saying they have done the first test and it is negative and that in 5 business days they will send us another letter on the second test REGARDLESS if negative or positive (we never get a letter!) - our cat bit us both (he normally is a good boy but obviously wasn't himself during that time.

Now, to make matters worse... WEEKS go by and I hear NOTHING from the vet... so I call her! Ask her what the results is or what is happening. She tells me (doesn't apologize for not calling or ANYTHING) that the vet pathologist thought the cat had bacterial menegitis but wasn't sure (I guess our kitty's bowels were inflamed *the vet like a neurotic idiot she is said it was because our cat didn't eat which we SAW him eat numerous times when going through those last days*) OR it could be FIP so the pathologist was going to take samples and send them off to the veterinary school and that we should have results within a week. Guess what... 2 and a half weeks later NO ONE calls me... I call there AGAIN I get the run around from the receptionist that the vet is with a client and that the vet will call me back... 2 hrs later the receptionist calls and says that they (the clinic) forgot to fax off my cat's clinical history to the university!!! Therefore, that is the hold up!!! Mean while I have two cats that have become ill and are losing weight and sneezing.


Ok... tell me what would you do!!
post #2 of 11
Threaten to report them because you don't know for 100% yet whether this is a disease that could be transmittable to humans and other animals? Surely threats to sic the CDC on them might light a fire under them.

You can also report them to your state's licensing board for being unprofessional/malpractice. That is if you even live in the US or Canada... (it would certainly help if people would include their locations).
post #3 of 11
I am so very sorry you are going through this and I do not have any answers for you.
This behavior by the vet is horrible. Not an emergency? Unbelievable. Unfortunately by law cats ae valued as property and not given much value at that so there is really nothing you can do to the vet without finding out what happened. Since your cat was in the hands of this vet, I doubt any info will be forth coming. The symptoms you described could have been caused by many things and the vet could have just been honest and said they didn't know what caused this, Diabetes, kidney disease? Hardly.
Raboes was certainly a logical thought. Posioning, possibly.
Right now your concern is your other cats. It sounds like a URI but with what just happened I wouldn't be taking any chances and would be going to a diffeent vet asap if possible. I am sorry I cannot help more
post #4 of 11
ok, here are my 2 cents about this: call your family doctor and tell this story. Rabies is a deadly disease, and if I were in your situation, I would get rabies shots ASAP. It will not do you harm, but it can save your life if in fact it was rabies. Also make sure your other cats are vaccinated as well. Don't wait to hear back from these people... I have been bitten by a stray dog when I was a teenager, and the doctor gave me the shots before the dog was even on quarantine. Same thing with my mom... For what you describe, there is a possibility of being rabies... Again, just my 2 cents... Good luck!
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by carolinalima View Post
I would get rabies shots ASAP. It will not do you harm, but it can save your life if in fact it was rabies.
Just to point out - adverse reactions to vaccinations in humans is not that uncommon. To say it would definitely not cause a person harm isn't true - you can't know until after getting it whether it will cause a reaction or not.

As for types of reactions, some people just get mildly sick. Others end up with serious permanent damage because they're immune systems went overboard in reacting.
post #6 of 11
Isn't rabies fast acting? I think you would be sick by now. And the first test was negative for rabies. I would be more concerned about finding out what the alive cats have. I would take them to another vet.
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by kitytize View Post
Isn't rabies fast acting? I think you would be sick by now.
No, it can take months for symptoms to show. Initial infection looks more like common illness, it infects the peripheral nerves and travels through the CNS to the brain.

However, if one lived with a cat who had rabies from the time of infection to actual showing of late symptom they and their other pets have long been exposed.


I've already suggested who should be contacted in this matter. My suggestion for today is that the OP calls the vet and gives them an ultimatum - answers now or they're getting reported.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
I am in Canada... I hate to sound stupid but who is the OP? Thanks everyone for your advice... It's hard enough accepting a loss let alone having an idiot for a vet risking my cats and human family.
post #9 of 11
The OP is the Original Poster (you).

Rabies is 100% fatal. Your cat was tested and found negative and it is likely not the issue. However, there are somethings missing in the story. One is whether or not the cat was outside at all or the other cats were outside at all. If none of these cats are outdoors, rabies exposure is vastly diminished.

Rabies starts from transfer of the virus from an actively sick animal (symptomatic animal) to another animal that has not been vaccinated; typically from a bite. The bite intoduces the virus into the tissue of the uninfected animal. The virus moves to the brain to cause symptoms by way of the nervous system.

The further from the brain the virus is introduced, the longer it takes for symptoms to appear. If an animal is vaccinated prior to becoming symptomatic, the animal can SOMETIMES develop immunity before becoming symptomatic. This is why humans can be vaccinated after being bitten and not develop symptoms.

However, a lot of time has elapsed since the symptomatic cat was around the other cats. Typical quarantine for an animal exposed to rabies waiting for symptoms to appear is 2-3 weeks. From the discussion here it seems 3 weeks has passed.

I would attempt to find another vet at this point and get the remaining cats in for exam. Explain the history and have them get records from the vet who did the autopsy. Also contact your PHYSICIAN and explains the story.

Remember, Rabies is 100% fatal once symptoms are exhibited (in any mammal, including humans). IF you suspect rabies at all. DO NOT FIDDLE AROUND.. GET TO A DOCTOR!!!!

This is well past the unprofessional behavior of the vet. I find it incomprehensible that this vet took your sick cat HOME to their house.
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elana55 View Post
I would attempt to find another vet at this point and get the remaining cats in for exam. Explain the history and have them get records from the vet who did the autopsy. Also contact your PHYSICIAN and explains the story.

Remember, Rabies is 100% fatal once symptoms are exhibited (in any mammal, including humans). IF you suspect rabies at all. DO NOT FIDDLE AROUND.. GET TO A DOCTOR!!!!
I agree wholeheartedly - if there is at all a suspicion of Rabies, call your doctor ASAP. The side effects for the rabies vaccine are mild, and you can check them in here. You got bitten while your cat was symptomatic, and if it was rabies, and you do nothing, it is letal. Do not wait, or play around - call your doctor.
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by carolinalima View Post
I agree wholeheartedly - if there is at all a suspicion of Rabies, call your doctor ASAP. The side effects for the rabies vaccine are mild, and you can check them in here. You got bitten while your cat was symptomatic, and if it was rabies, and you do nothing, it is letal. Do not wait, or play around - call your doctor.
FWIW here in NY anyone in contact with an animal that might have been rabid must be vaccinated, including the veterinarian, Vet Assistants or techs, you, your BF, the other cats (plus they need to be quarantined) and anyone else who came in contact with the sick animal.

Again, due to the time lapse it is unlikely this was rabies and you have one letter indicating a negative test. I would contact the testing agency and indicate the date of the first letter and that you never received the second letter and you need it. This is a Public Health concern.
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