How Vets And Animal Care System Failed Kitty Putting Her Life At Risk


Back in January, Kitty was diagnosed with chronic triaditis from an ultrasound – which could not be confirmed without a biopsy. She had been doing good for months with the changes I made for her health and diet, as had infrequent episodes which were managed.

Then the pandemic came and there were shutdowns around. We were being told to stay home as much as possible, to control the spread of the coronavirus, which meant a new way of doing things – even going to the vet.

This was fine by me because I had sweet Kitty for company and my focus was keeping her healthy. In times like these, I especially appreciated having Kitty with me.

Then late May she had a vomiting episode. These usually get triggered in trying to go poop but mostly right after. She didn’t feel well for a day and then started being more picky about food, eating less over a course of a week. She also got constipated as was taking longer to go poop. I called and scheduled the vet that same day but cancelled as she had went right before. I decided to wait for the appointment that was already scheduled a few days later for a check up with the vet (owner of the clinic) who did acupuncture as I wanted to go with an alternative approach for her health.

On the Wednesday appt, the vet said her blood pressure was good, heart good but otherwise considered her to be very sick. He said he just does a little acupuncture and alternative treatment but since her case is more complicated, the holistic clinic (with a well regarded holistic vet who owned the clinic) would be better equipped to handle as they have had success with cats using the chinese herb Wei Ling Tang. He did recommend trying that route for her and I was planning to book an appointment.

Then Thursday, right after going poop, Kitty vomited blood – the first and only time – but otherwise acted fine. I called the vet and he said probably just retched a bit too much and to watch for 24 hours. Also said stomach protectant meds would be helpful and can bring her the next day for blood tests . After getting off the phone she vomited one more time a little blood. But this time she started feeling unwell and laid down. Now this is not unusual as she had episodes of vomiting as part of her health condition and if she vomits a second time would have a stomach ache for a short time but because it was blood I got concerned. Since the regular clinic was closed by then, I took her to an emergency one. Due to covid restrictions, could not go inside with her and had to wait in the car for the vet to call when examining her.

Before I go further, I want to state what a mistake it was to take her there as it turned into a nightmare of events that followed which put Kitty in distress and her life at risk thanks to vets who did not properly understand her condition or test results.

The vet at the emergency clinic – without doing any kind of tests – was leaning toward putting her down. She said even if hospitalized and whatever done, she may still have to be put down. Pretty well discouraging anything to be done for her. She definitely overexaggerated her condition.

Scary how easily they can put an animal down without even being sure of anything.

I insisted – on the advice of the regular vet – to get stomach protectant meds, did not want to hospitalize her there and would take her in the morning to the regular vet for blood tests. Then she tried to scare me by saying she could pass during the night. I just got the meds and took Kitty out of there as fast as I could because for sure she would have died one way or another, if I left her there. This was a VCA emergency clinic which had a cold clinical atmosphere. They weren’t even 24-hour so who was going to monitor her throughout the night if left there? Better off at home where she is cared for and loved.

Because the vet scared me, I was extra cautious in monitoring Kitty throughout the night. Nothing happened to her. If anything, the meds were probably helping to soothe her stomach.

Friday, I took her to the regular clinic for blood tests but she was seen by a different vet – who never examined her before – and not the one (owner of the clinic) who saw her on the Wednesday. I believe she was influenced negatively by the report and call from the emergency clinic vet because the test results showed her pancreas levels high and that she had anemia. The only thing she could confirm for sure was the anemia as said could be this or that for the other high levels. In any case she insisted she go in emergency care for a blood transfusion or be put down. Gave me no choice.

I must mention that Kitty had an inflammatory episode she was recovering from (as was only the day before she vomited) so of course levels would be higher. You do have to look at the cat how she is acting not just the levels as she certainly didn’t appear to be in a suffering state. And from researching, her anemia levels were not low enough to warrant a blood transfusion.

But I had no choice was either emergency care or euthanize. I certainly was not going to put her down right then and there when she was not acting like she is “suffering” and couldn’t even get a confirmed diagnosis of what was wrong, other than her anemia. I said I want to take her home to make a decision and for sure would do either one the following day. The vet hesitantly agreed and gave me pain meds for the night since she assumed she was in pain – though did not show symptoms she was – on top of the stomach meds she was already taking.

I felt this vet went overboard and seemed was not experienced enough as seeing things in a black and white way, when there are gray areas with cats, especially in Kitty’s case. And I know Kitty how resilient she is and bounces back. They didn’t give her any chance to recover from her inflammatory episode – as we are only talking one day of occurrence – and did not even take her previous diagnosis of triaditis into consideration either.

In any case Kitty significantly improved that evening and overnight, as eating normally again and acting like her usual self.

Since the vet gave me only the two choices, I made the decision to take her for emergency care for a blood transfusion. Was no reason to put her down.

In the morning, on the way there,  I was wondering why she needed a blood transfusion when she was doing fine but I took her anyway.

And then the next nightmare begins.

It was now Saturday, Kitty is doing fine and as I enter the emergency clinic parking lot, I wonder what am I doing here. But again, I am there because I was given no choice – option 1 or option 2  – since the vet interpreted the blood test for the worst.

This was a different emergency clinic – and again a VCA one. They didn’t treat her like an emergency as it was hours before she even saw a vet, while I had to wait in a hot car in their parking lot. Very disorganized and didn’t keep you up to date throughout the whole day, had to keep calling. Again, due to covid, could not go inside so had to wait for the vet to call.

When the vet finally called she said they needed to know the underlying cause for the anemia otherwise the  blood transfusion may only  last for 24 hours. So she suggested to do an ultrasound. I asked her why not an x-ray. But she said it wouldn’t show enough. I was hesitant because the last ultrasound needed a biopsy to confirm. She was sure it would give a diagnosis. Of course this was the weekend and it was considered as on-call for the ultrasound which meant almost double the price. I was pretty well coerced into getting one done since I was there for a blood transfusion and at this point it was useless to get one as it may not even last. I also  mentioned to her that I didn’t believe her anemia was at a level where she needed a blood transfusion but she disagreed.

Now it’s late afternoon and have to wait for the ultrasound to be done. At this point I went home after waiting in the car for hours even though they didn’t tell me I could leave. They said they would call me when they had the ultrasound results.

Again, I did not hear anything back from them and it was now around 8 pm. I called and they said the person doing the ultrasound still hadn’t arrived and should shortly. Then around 10 pm the same emergency vet called and said the ultrasound showed an enlarged gall bladder and a biliary duct obstruction. They needed to do surgery to remove the gall bladder and biliary duct. Two organs? Yikes. And they quoted a price like $8,000 (a part of a continuous pattern of jacking up the prices throughout the day) said I had an hour to decide. And she said if it wasn’t done soon the gall bladder would explode and she would get peritonitis that she could die from. I was shocked by this diagnosis and there was still no explanation for the cause of the anemia. I told her how you can be sure without a biopsy and she said they would also be doing exploratory surgery. And on top would need a blood transfusion after.

How could an elderly anemic cat survive a major surgery like this let alone the anaesthesia? I asked the vet isn’t it risky. She said yes but didn’t blink an eye in wanting to go ahead with it. So not only would I likely have a dead cat but I would be out $8,000+ too. That just didn’t sound right.

I didn’t trust the ultrasound results because I felt it was rushed – which I didn’t even get to see the report until the next day – and wasn’t done by an independent certified ultrasound specialist, just their in-house vet. So I made the decision to remove her out of their care because I questioned the ultrasound and wanted  a second opinion for alternative treatment. I also felt that was more than enough for Kitty to go through and I didn’t feel she was getting proper care.

I told the vet I wanted to take Kitty elsewhere for a second opinion. The vet agreed to release her but stated I am going against medical advice. But then her assistants said they would be calling Animal Control as that is part of their procedure in cases like this. I was very upset at this point and said go ahead because I will complain of their negligent care of  Kitty.

I was totally dissatisfied with their service. Kitty was there since the morning and it was after midnight that I finally was able to take her home. A very stressful day of being spun around that turned out to be a waste of time.  I brought in a well-fed calm cat and when I took her from there she looked like she went through the wringer and was very hungry and thirsty.  They didn’t even think to give her anything even after the ultrasound was done. Only when I want to remove her then say they needed to give her iv fluids. And what was even more shocking was that when I said about her going hungry for a long period she said cats can go 2 weeks without eating so wasn’t concerned about that. Really, an anemic cat could survive 2 weeks without food?

Even though they released her, they wanted me to take her within 24 hours to another vet. This was hard to do because was a Sunday and the clinic I was going to make an appointment with was closed for the weekend.

Monday morning I tried to get an appointment with the holistic vet as soon as possible but they couldn’t put her in until over a week later. Even I requested if can squeeze her in somewhere sooner but they weren’t accommodating.  Just left it at the appointment they gave and if they had a cancellation before then, they would call.

Monday late afternoon, the vet called from the original clinic and left a message wanting to know how Kitty was doing plus threatened  that if I don’t call back she was going to call Animal Control. I called and I was put on hold for around 10 mins, and the receptionist said the vet is busy and she can call me back. I got upset told her to let her know that Kitty was fine and that the emergency care clinic was negligent. I also said to the receptionist I did not want this vet to call me back and have the other one (owner of the clinic) to. No one called me back.

Tuesday evening, Animal Control showed up at my door saying a vet had reported a cat in distress. I was taken aback by that because Kitty was not in any distress. She curiously looked out the window to see what was going on and then went up to the door as well before getting tired of the commotion, laid down to take a nap.

One of the animal control peace officers seemed to have a big chip on her shoulder, acting tough. In any case, no matter what I said, they made the decision to take her and if I didn’t go along, they would come back with a police officer and a warrant.

Kitty knew I was upset and sensed she was being taken against my will. She started to act like an animal in defense, got quite distressed, loudly wailing and growled at them. I never saw her act like that before so they put her in extreme distress. How could that be right?

I told her I loved her before I gave them to her, not knowing I would get her back as there was the possibility they would euthanize her. I said that is not right putting her in a state like that when I could have just taken her somewhere for a check up or discuss her care with the vet I was waiting a callback from. I just requested to the other peace officer – who was the nice one of the two – to please not euthanize her. But it was no longer in my hands as they seized her and would be doing their own evaluation.

The cat was not in distress in her home where she felt safe but Animal Control put her in distress by forcibly taking her. Where is the logic in that? I told them how can you treat an elderly animal like that. Would you treat your own mother like that?

By taking her against her will like that, they put her in an extreme distressed state that surely would have killed her if she was in as bad shape as the vet was claiming her to be. Not only that, I also was upset that this vet rather than work with me, turned against me. Matter of fact, by taking her to multiple vets gave them ammunition to use against me.

The only good thing that came out of this horrible ordeal was the animal control vet said she does not need to be euthanized, not to do any workups, and can be provided palliative care at home.

The Animal Control peace officer said she is doing good and will be released back to my care.

What really got me was Animal Control took her to the same emergency clinic for another examination. I asked them why they did that when I pulled her out of there. They said they do that in animal-in-distress cases that they first take to an outside vet. And this time she was seen by a different vet who couldn’t diagnose as said could be this or could be that (same old), said she was growly – I wonder why – and prescribed her an anxiety med. Remember this is the same clinic who wanted to remove two organs but now couldn’t even come up with a diagnosis.

Thursday, picked up Kitty from Animal Control. She appeared  drugged – as barely recognized me – and had a scab on her nose.  I did not like that  they put her in a state that she needed to be drugged up with an anxiety med. I later phoned to inquire and complain.  It turned out the crust on her nose was dried cat food which I had to scrape off. Made me wonder how that occurred – was she sleeping face down in her dish? Their answer to me was “we do the best we can under the budget we have”. Yeah right. I’m accused of not providing sufficient veterinary care – when in a course of 4 straight days she saw 5 different vets – and they on the other hand  caused a cat to go in distress by forcibly taking her against her will and then caging her up surrounded by dogs and other animals.

They didn’t even give her anything additional – other than the anxiety med for her to cope there – not even the stomach meds as she no longer needed them. So really was no purpose for them to take her.

I was worried that she might fuss about food but they said she ate everything, no problem.

Just goes to show you how smart Kitty is. She was going to do whatever it takes to get out of there. Show them she was absolutely fine by eating everything given.

After that I talked with the original vet (owner of the clinic), that it was wrong that his vet called Animal Control. He tried to make an excuse that he didn’t get the message on that Monday. And he also said that he thought Animal Control would only check on her. I think that was a lie because this was already planned ahead between his vet and the peace officer, after I reviewed the reports later on. They never gave me the benefit of the doubt and would not consider I was taking her to another vet saying that the appointment was not soon enough. I even said I could take her somewhere to get her checked in the meantime. But they wouldn’t agree.

Something very wrong here with the systems in place. Is abuse of power. I filed complaints against all parties concerned. Is a horror how lightly vets are taking euthanasia, doing unnecessary costly tests only to end up misdiagnosing or not diagnosing at all. In a course of a week she was probed and poked by 7 different vets, and then had the distress of being caged up at Animal Control for 2 days. And in the end they say she is good?

The animal care system itself needs an overhaul because they unnecessarily took Kitty and made me grieve for her because I thought they would put her down. I wouldn’t have even got to comfort and say goodbye to her.

The original clinic apologized that they didn’t meet my expectations. They refunded their and animal control fees but I got stuck with the fees and overpriced ultrasound that I didn’t even want to do from the last VCA emergency clinic. I should have also been refunded the examination fee at the first emergency one too who would have unnecessarily put her down, and where all the trouble started.

The vet from the original clinic even had an internal medicine specialist look at the blood test and that person wasn’t even sure what exactly caused the high levels or could be wrong. I just said maybe because she was going through an inflammatory period, that is why it showed high levels on the test results.

As for the last emergency clinic, they did not have the decency to apologize for their poor service or refund their fees. Instead said they did in good faith. What do you expect from a profit-driven vet hospital?

What I learned from this bad experience is don’t involve too many vets as they can use ammunition against you when things go wrong. Find one good vet and stick with them. They should work with you not against you. And do not take your pet to a VCA vet hospital. They are a large corporation owned by Mars candy bar company. Is just about how much money they can gouge from you rather than an animal’s welfare. That means unnecessary tests and high risk surgeries that could cost your cat’s life.

Let this be a cautionary tale to those who are trusting their cat’s care to vets. Do not agree to things that don’t seem right to you, question and do your own research, and if necessary get a second and even third opinion. Because only 2 out of 7 vets that Kitty seen that week seemed okay, the others were questionable. When it comes to cats, there is a lot they do not know. Kitty’s case proves it.

The vet who did the blood tests said she would die in a few days if she didn’t get a blood transfusion. She didn’t. The ultrasound vet said if she didn’t have the surgery the gall bladder would  explode and she would die from peritonitis. Did not happen.

In my opinion, euthanization for cats should only be done if all options have been exhausted and there is only the one direction it can go. I mean shouldn’t there be an actual sign of “suffering” – that cannot be managed with meds – before is even considered? And shouldn’t a quality of life assessment be done first to be sure? It’s being taken way too lightly by vets as some cats – I’m sure – are being put down when they shouldn’t be. Look at your cat first to get your sign if are unsure as it may not be the time yet. You don’t want to be second guessing yourself after the fact because then is too late. Euthanization is a regular part of a vet’s job. I believe they get desensitized and therefore can be wrong when is the right time. Who can really know for sure? Maybe the cat.

I don’t want to deny my cat even a day less if she can still maintain some quality of life. If she has a determination to live, I don’t want to take that away from her by speculating should I do early so that it isn’t too late. Because I believe cats have their own healing properties and can pull out of things which may even explain the nine lives theory. Sometimes they can take a turn for the worse only to all of a sudden get better. Could it be because they sleep more, their bodies have more time to repair itself?

What really saddens me is that animals don’t really have any rights. Everything is based on a human’s decision which many times can be wrong.

Nobody asked the cat what she wanted even if she made it loud and clear to them.

I said to Kitty you are not lucky to be a cat. I think she agreed with me.


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