Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hello/Goodbye

We are noticing some effects of the recession at my vet clinic. Mostly in the form of huge holes in the schedule, great blocks of time with no appointments in them. If it's slow enough, we send a doctor and a technician home. Recently, I have had appts at the beginning and the end of a shift, so no such luck for me. Then the next day may be overly full and we are running like the proverbial headless chicken.

Fortunately, I am not seeing people putting pets to sleep because they can't afford them. When there is a medical emergency, people are still finding the funds for treatment. But it seems like we are doing less elective stuff, and seeing fewer puppies and kittens.

I was pretty excited last week to see a new patient, a cat just adopted by a family 2 months earlier. She was on the appointment book for a check-up and tapeworms. However, when she arrived, my observant receptionist ran her back, saying, "I've got an emergency!"

I pulled a limp cat out of a carrier. Blue lips, dilated pupils, no heartbeat. The owner said she'd been howling in her box on the short 5 minute trip to our office. We attempted some CPR, then I tried to give her an intracardiac injection of epinephrine. I could not find her heart because her chest was full of clear fluid. She had sub-clinical heart failure, and had filled up with plueral effusion. The mild stress of the car trip had pushed her over the edge.

Breaking the news to the owner was terrible. She was completely unprepared. She thought she had killed her new cat by bringing her in for a wellness visit. I told her the cat was in heart failure, had been for a while, and would certainly have died regardless within the month. After talking with her about the signs which cats are so good at hiding, she realized the rapid breathing in a weird posture the night before and the cough three days ago were not due to hairballs, after all. She felt a little better about the situation, but I still felt terrible sending her home empty handed. We all felt sorrow the rest of the day for not even getting a chance to know or treat our new patient, but even more for the family's loss of their newest member.

8 comments:

get2eric said...

Ah, that's too bad.
How old was she?

Emily said...

So sad. It's never easy to lose a pet.

mainlyclearskies said...

Oh, that's sad.

Anonymous said...

mm sad story,Jenn.indeed... I wonder if you could advise us what to do about half a dozen Cats that have moved in next door to us on a small Close..all different Owners..they WILL use our lovely garden as a poo-loo and boy it stinks when I am weeding! I have tried some stuff called "Get off my garden" didn't hurt them just nice smelling crystals but now they like the smell and carry on with their business! this is a metter of urgency 'cos I'm quietly going mad. :(

Aunty Norma.x

Laura said...

Poor kitty. Poor shocked new owner, too.

It seems to me like I've seen more pets coming to the shelter where I volunteer because of the expense of pet ownership, but they've also been adopting them out just as fast. I think those who have and want pets are prioritizing them, as much as possible. Maybe the dogs are getting sticks and old shoes for toys instead of new plush squeakie-laden toys...

ColeBugsmommy said...

Of all the days, I chose this day to stop by and visit. I felt so bad for her. I miss the pets and my friends, but not time like that.

peevish said...

Such a sad story. Poor kitty, poor humans.

EdamameMommy said...

What a story. Glad that petowner had you to quell those guilty feelings immediately. I didn't realize the recession was having such a profound impact on the pet world. Animals are not disposable! Wish we could rescue more than one, but I'm happy to be thinking of adopting at a time like this.