cat rapidly lost weight, not eating

newhomeseekerMarch 8, 2010

I posted here about a month ago about a little black and white cat I'd wanted to adopt from the shelter I volunteer at and how he died. Well it is happening again and although I'm not attached to this 2nd cat I wonder what is going on and if there is something we can do to put an end to it.

About a week after the shelter kitty I fell in love with was euthanized I noticed a new black and white cat (Female) who was new to the shelter. I was drawn to her because she was almost the spitting image of the 9 month old cat who died that I was distraught over. She didn't have much of a personality, just wanted to be left alone and sleep all day. At first they kept her in a cage and then recently put her in one of the cat rooms. She doesn't purr when you pick her up she just looks at you as if to say "just let me go back to sleep" I recently found out that she is 2 years old and that she was adopted from the shelter as a kitten and her own recently passed away and she was returned to the shelter. WHen she came in she was healthy looking but aloof. When I saw her yesterday I immediately notified the manager and they put her in quarantine. She has lost so much weight she is skin and bones and she walks very slowly and is not eating. She isn't taking care of her coat either. They were going to put her on iv fluids to see if that helps her. It is scary because those are the exact same symptoms that the kitty that I couldnt' save had. (except he had a little cold as well). I'm not getting attached to this one because it is too painful but I just see a pattern here (and its strange that they look so much alike as well) Not related though. My thinking is these cats just stop eating (for whatever reason- don't like the taste of the food, have a cold and can't smell the food, are depressed etc) and just starve themselves. Or maybe it is FIP. I have no idea. But I'm not sure what to do.

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After the last kitten died of what seems like nothing less than neglect on the part of the shelter, if you want to save this cat, you need to get her out of that shelter immediately and to your own vet for evaluation and treatment. The shelter took a "wait and see" approach to the last kitten and watched him sicken to the point of requiring euthanasia. Shameful! And now it's apparently happening again with this new cat. She needs more than fluids. She needs a full veterinary workup.

Either do nothing and let them kill another one, or get her out of there.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 12:38PM
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Report the shelter to the ASPCA

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 1:00PM
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In one of your previous posts you stated: "they would probably have to put him on IV fluids themselves. (there are vets on site that work specifically for the shelter). My instincts were to push the issue but she had read me what the vet had said (he was dehydrated, not eating much losing weight with a slight cold)"

I know of no shelter that can afford vets on site and seriously doubt the cat was seen by a vet. What vet would not immediately start fluids on a cat with those symptoms and at the same time start running some tests? Did you see a vet's name on the report?
It's understandable that a shelter will do a lot of basic, supportive treatment but I don't think they're having these animals checked out for infectious disease.

This sounds like a shelter that rescues animals but can't afford to care for the sick animals they take in. As Mazer said, I'd report what they're doing.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 11:44AM
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I know of no shelter that can afford vets on site and seriously doubt the cat was seen by a vet

Not true. Most shelters do have vets, vets that practice and specialize in "shelter medicine"
A shelter needs a vet to perform spay and neuter, and to administer rabies vaccinations before the animal is adopted out...

But, having said that, the vets are rather limited in what they can do and can only do the basic treatment, for financial reasons

With the sick kitty, it can be stress, it can be a viral infection, it can be a lot of things. Poor thing, she certainly needs to be cared for properly...

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 12:06PM
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Our shelter is associated with a veterinary hospital about 3 miles from them (for basic medicine--spay, neuter, rabies and BASIC care--). They make daily trips or almost, but the vets there give very quick exams, nothing fancy, and they are quick on antibiotics, steroids.. I HAD to offer to pay for bloodwork for my foster cat when I realized that all they did was to prescribe more antibiotics when they were not quite sure what her problem was. Tests are expensive and shelters have no extra money to spend...

Anyway, I do not believe the shelter will let you adopt a cat that is sick. Maybe they'll let you foster her, and they will give you permisssion to take her to your own vet-- at your own expenses, of course!

And YES, from the past 'incident', I have a bad feeling they will give up on that cat, too...

However, as you know, if they let you take that cat home, be prepared for extra vet bills... and also, you will have to take many precautions to protect your own cats..

Yes, it could be FIP, but it could also be something as simple as intestinal parasites. Or she may have got into something (cleaning stuff?) that she should not have. Maybe some contagious stuff is going around the shelter... You know that shelter, and we don't. If you see that they do not follow basic 'cleanliness/observation procedures', you need to talk to the manager.. The fact YOU had to tell them that this cat needed immediate attention tells me they are not looking after them the way they should..
I wish that cat the very, very best... This is so sad!


    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 3:32PM
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The shelter I work at does employ one full time vet and several vet techs. As someone said above, they use a lot of antibiotics for everything (the cat they put down was on antibiotics). They were monitoring the current cat that is losing weight but obviously not closely enough. I know this sounds horrible but I'm not attached to this cat. While I will feel bad if she does not make it, I can't adopt her. I have my own cats to worry about and can't expose them to anything. Also if I did foster her I couldn't keep her. While I did recently sent two of my fosters to the shelter for adoption I still have one more at home.
I don't think it has to do with the cleanliness of the shelter, we take a lot of precautions and the cat doesn't seem to have a respiratory infection or anything like that. And the cat they euthanised and this current sick cat were never in the same room together.

I don't think they do bloodwork but I could be wrong. I would offer to take her if I knew I could handle it but I just can't. After the guilt I feel from not saving my poor little boy, I just can't deal with the stress of this. I really hope she pulls through and if she does I will be sure to keep an eye on her and try to do whatever I can while I'm at the shelter. They just have too many cats (over 100) and while they try to do whats best for them, apparently some fall through the cracks.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 4:33PM
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Lord, this sounds like what they do to old people in nursing homes;
have a doc on call who medicates, tranquilizes, *& does not spend any time at diagnosis*.

If the poor old thing dies, oh well, probably "just her time".

Talk to a supervisor right away;
tell him/her that this cat does not seem to be responding to whatever they're doing & insist that it be evaluated by a good diagnostician who will test & treat.

I wish you the very best.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 6:04PM
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Thank you. The nursing home analogy is appropriate. I did report this to the supervisor and that is when she put the cat in quarantine and made a note for the vet. They just don't have the funds to do extensive testing on the cats there. The shelter gets no federal funding and exists entirely on donations.
I thought about what I wrote yesterday, and while I thought I was over the cat I wanted to adopt dying, I'm not. I think I'm in the anger stage of grief. I think this because I've detached from a lot of the cats, including my own. I feel like i could give away my own cats and as long as they went to a good home I wouldn't miss them. Unlike before, I felt like they were my babies and I'd do anything to protect them and keep them healthy and happy.

I thought about that poor little guy (who was euthanized) and cried over him last night. Something I haven't done in a while and it suprised me. I think I'm a just trying not to feel anything. I think this is why toward this 2nd sick cat is so uncaring. I'm actually considering offering to pay to take her to my vet this weekend (if she hasn't improved at all). I will find out tonight how she is doing.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 11:37AM
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Ok.......someone please explain to me how a shelter can have a full time vet and several vet techs, yet not be able to afford testing?

I volunteered with a large, well known rescue in Calif., and even with all the money they had coming in they couldn't afford a vet on staff. They would bring in a vet tech twice a week to check new arrivals and administer limited meds. Any suspicious illnesses went to an offsite vet. The majority of the vets gave them discounts and some did work pro bono.

I'm aware some shelters have vets that come in on a weekly basis and do spay, neuters & vaccinations, but these vets usually do nothing more unless the animal is brought to their office.

It seems newhome's shelter could better manage the funds they have going out to a full time vet and vet techs.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 3:22PM
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I don't know anything about how the vet is paid, just know they have a vet on staff. Don't know if she is there full time, i just assumed so. I know the vet is not there on weekends. I do know the vet techs are paid minimum wage. No benefits. I believe their budget is around 2 million a year (read that somewhere) but I could be wrong. They also offer low cost spaying and neutering and stray cat and farm cat spay programs to the public. These programs are made possible through donations.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 4:14PM
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Ok.......someone please explain to me how a shelter can have a full time vet and several vet techs, yet not be able to afford testing?

Depends on the kind of shelter you are talking about. The volunteer based- no permanent facility- foster network based rescue will probably NOT have a vet.

A shelter with a facility, or Animal Control type shelter will more often than not have a vet.

Why they cannot afford beyond basic. For one, most tests (besides the obvious fecals, FIV/FeLV tests) cannot be done in house for the lack of equipment - and hence, the high price of sending off to the lab has to be paid.

Bloodwork is usually sent out to the lab. Same with allergy testing. Same for XRays...

For a large shelter, it is cost effective to have a vet on premises, for basic care. Spay/neuter, rabies vaccination, minor amputations, URI management - these are the handful of things a vet is capable of doing at a shelter. Resources are, unfortunately, limited - and a vet is one against hundreds of animals.

Unfortunately, this is the way it is.

Having said that, some shelters will try to do beyond the basic care, if possible. Most people working at shelters do care - though, I am sure, they get overwhelmed.

When one of my fosters went to the local shelter - which I have a very close relationship with - I was contacted back about jaundice she was exhibiting. I have the Do Not Euthanize order on my fosters, and an understanding/agreement with the rescues that I will take my fosters back. The shelter did test the cat at their expense - they sent off the bloodwork, and diagnosed her with Feline Infectious Anemia. If the cat did not have the safety net of DNE, she would have been euth - and understandably so, as the shelter could not have adopted her out.
The cat is now part of my permanent household....

Newhomeseeker, I am glad you are volunteering your time and I am glad you are watching out for these animals. It seems that shelter staff, regardless of the love they have for animals and the desire to help, get the big picture too much (we cant save them all kind of approach) , when it becomes easier to give up on an individual animal...

I hope the kitty improves, and thank you for caring for her.
It will never become easier, and if you continue caring, you will have your heart broken again. I tried to help a kitty today, with a gunshot wound - and could not get to it on time - the friendly cat was reaching out to people for help and got hauled off to get euthanized before we could reach it. It is never easy. Even if you save 100, the one you did not save just gets you.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 9:47PM
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