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Old 02-05-2019, 11:00 AM
Napier Napier is offline
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Visiting cat in animal hospital - helpful, hurtful, indifferent, who knows?

My favorite cat went into the animal hospital last night in crisis with previously unknown kidney illness interacting with previously known diabetes. The crisis seems under control but he's quite sick and in for 2-5 days of testing. He's extremely friendly with me but extremely combative with everybody else, and was already on the "Bite List" from a visit 3.5 years ago, when they wound up keeping him on a Propofol drip just to manage him. I probably need to drop off some special food for him today and thought I'd bring a worn Tee shirt to comfort him, so I think I will be there in any case.

The question is: would it help him or hurt him if I visit him (which they do allow)? Obviously it might help. But if he takes visits as more instances of desertion, then it might hurt. Or, cat psychology might be so different from my own that I'm only anthropomorphizing the situation and he won't actually care -- or so different that figuring this out is a fool's errand.

I'm not sure if it will help or hurt me, but I'm nowhere nearly in the unpleasant situation he is in. I want to do what's best for him.

What do the Dopers say?

Last edited by Napier; 02-05-2019 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 02-05-2019, 11:06 AM
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Beckdawrek Beckdawrek is online now
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I would visit him, YMMV. Only you know your cat. Take your clues from him.
The t-shirt idea is a good thing.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 02-05-2019 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 02-05-2019, 11:09 AM
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Cats get stressed out pretty easily, so maybe minimize the visit episodes so the whole event can become kind of a blur. But I think the shirt idea is fantastic.
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Old 02-05-2019, 11:10 AM
Napier Napier is offline
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Thank you Beckdawrek!

I went out and gleaned some recommendations from vet and cat care web sites, which are generally pro-visit if the human is keeping it together and the vet approves:

"While some cats may be more stressed by having a distressed guardian visit, most will thrive with periodic visits. However, you need to be sure that YOU can handle visiting your hospitalized cat. If you are likely to fall apart seeing your cat in a hospital setting, possibly on intravenous fluids, with bandages, or unconscious or groggy from anesthesia drugs, your distress will transfer to your cat, and visiting may not be in your cat’s best interest."

"You know your cat better than anybody else. Some cats will greatly appreciate a visit from the veterinarian. Sick and stressed cats are very prone to losing their appetite. A visit from their human family can be just what is needed to perk them up. [...] In some cases, your cat will become stressed and upset when he sees you."

"1. Pet personality. This is the single biggest factor when it comes to the visit/no visit decision. That’s largely because some pets suffer from severe forms of separation anxiety that can make visitation seem like a behavioral roller coaster from the vet professional’s POV. Which is probably very stressful for the patient. And we all know stress isn’t good for recovery. The truth, however, is that most pets do not fall into this category. A less common form of separation anxiety can also apply. This can be the case for pets who have a way of losing hope when they’re separated from their owners. In my experience, cats are more likely to suffer from this form of stress. For these pets, a periodic visit can be a good thing."

"You may feel free to leave kitty's favorite blanket, toys, or item of your clothing to add to kitty's comfort while being hospitalized. If your kitty must be hospitalized for several days, please try to visit her as often as you can, as bonding encourages healing. Your presense can help kitty feel more comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings and will encourage her to heal."
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Old 02-05-2019, 11:23 AM
senoy senoy is offline
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If female, it might be a good idea. They can form 'colonies' when feral, so have some idea of group structures. They don't actually share food and the colonies will break up or devolve into violence if resources are scarce, so they are not interdependent- more like socially tolerant providing it doesn't interfere with their interests. As such, they have vague understandings of relationships, so you being around will at least bring a notion of familiarity if not comfort. If male, it probably doesn't matter too much. Not that you're furniture, but they are largely solitary animals that do their own thing. You are something that simply exists in their world and either does or doesn't meet any needs they have. Cats don't have a strong biological drive for togetherness and males seem to actually have a drive for apartness. Cats actually lack the ability to do a lot of social signaling and basically only have a few real communication tools with each other, so they just don't have the ability to form those strong interdependent connections. They tend to raise their young as a solitary pursuit although in colonies lactating females will feed other kittens and males are not involved at all. Basically, the biology of cats is such that they are designed to be by themselves and you being there or not being there is probably no more than marginally impactful of their lives.
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Old 02-05-2019, 11:37 AM
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Cats seem to have about the memory as toddlers. They don't agonize over sentiments like we might have if we were in similar circumstances. It's worth trying to see how the cat reacts.
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Old 02-05-2019, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by senoy View Post
If female, it might be a good idea. They can form 'colonies' when feral, so have some idea of group structures. They don't actually share food and the colonies will break up or devolve into violence if resources are scarce, so they are not interdependent- more like socially tolerant providing it doesn't interfere with their interests. As such, they have vague understandings of relationships, so you being around will at least bring a notion of familiarity if not comfort. If male, it probably doesn't matter too much. Not that you're furniture, but they are largely solitary animals that do their own thing. You are something that simply exists in their world and either does or doesn't meet any needs they have. Cats don't have a strong biological drive for togetherness and males seem to actually have a drive for apartness. Cats actually lack the ability to do a lot of social signaling and basically only have a few real communication tools with each other, so they just don't have the ability to form those strong interdependent connections. They tend to raise their young as a solitary pursuit although in colonies lactating females will feed other kittens and males are not involved at all. Basically, the biology of cats is such that they are designed to be by themselves and you being there or not being there is probably no more than marginally impactful of their lives.
Based on my personal experience I would disagree about the males. My neutered (I think this distinction plays a role) boy is distressed when I leave for work (to the point of sometimes going into one of his 'private places' and not coming out to say goodbye, and relieved when I get back. Also he had to be sedated recently for dental work and when he came round, as soon as he could control his body enough to climb onto the bed he came and hid under the covers with me.

So I would say yes, please do visit your cat as often and for as long as possible, even if its just to sit beside the bed reading a book or something.
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Old 02-07-2019, 12:53 AM
half-elf half-elf is offline
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Hi Napier, how's kitty doing?
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Old 02-07-2019, 01:39 AM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is online now
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Go for a visit. Even if the cat doesn't notice, or seem to appreciate it, YOU will feel better and that's why you should be there.
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Old 02-07-2019, 03:28 AM
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Definitely visit!! Your visits will likely be the only time he purrs during his stay. That will help him heal.
  #11  
Old 02-07-2019, 11:11 AM
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My vet discourages most visits, at least according to their hospitalization forms. Apparently it makes the animal think it's going home, then it gets distressed when it gets left behind.
That's what the sheet said, at least.
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Old 02-07-2019, 03:10 PM
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My vet encourages visits. I hope your kitty is OK, Napier.
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Old 02-07-2019, 04:32 PM
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I asked my cat, and she said to tell you to visit.
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Old 02-07-2019, 07:47 PM
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Visit him. My cat has been hospitalized twice recently for kidney issues and the vet said that he perked up and started eating better after I'd visit. The staff would let me take him into an unused exam room and stay as long as I liked.
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Old 02-07-2019, 08:11 PM
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I only know about dogs, but my vet encourages visits if it's not too serious.

Last edited by Rhiannon8404; 02-07-2019 at 08:11 PM.
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Old 02-07-2019, 08:17 PM
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I’m a dog guy and if one of The Jackass Brothers were in the hospital they would be hard pressed to stop me from setting up a cot in the office.
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Old 02-07-2019, 08:37 PM
StGermain StGermain is offline
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I visit my dogs - I really don't ask the vet, I just show up and say I'm there to visit. But in the case of at least a couple of my dogs, the visits may have been life-saving. One dog collapsed one morning. I rushed her to the vet and they took her back. the prognosis didn't seem good. She couldn't stand, was unresponsive. I came after work and as soon as she saw me, she struggled to her feet in the cage. The vet said that up until that moment, she really didn't think Kate was going to live.

And in the other case, I had a doberman get into a 5 lb bag of PB cups. The vet said her organs were all working fine, but he thought her brain was shutting down. He saw no signs of alertness, no following with her eyes. He said he in good conscience he couldn't continue to treat her and run up a bill when he thought it was hopeless, and he could euthanize her or I could take her home and see if being in familiar surroundings brought her out of it. But as I was sitting on the floor next to her, she put her head in my lap, and when I put canned food in her mouth, she swallowed it. And while I was sitting with her a tech came and got a dog out of a cage and she moved her head and watched. That was more than he'd seen all day. He kept her over night and she continued to improve until she came home with me. And she didn't show any signs of life until I was there with her.

StG
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Old 02-08-2019, 11:00 AM
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One of my t-shirts from the laundry hamper is our trick to getting Trixie in her crate. Open door, toss in shirt and wait. Usually within 10 to 15 minutes in she goes and curls up on the shirt. Shut door and off we go.
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Old 02-08-2019, 01:18 PM
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Years ago our Sadie (50-pound dog) was in the hospital for a few days having her hip joint rebuilt. Although heavily drugged, she was in severe pain and very withdrawn into herself. We visited her and she barely responded.

Sadie was a known sock-stealer. She never chewed up socks, but she liked to carry them into her bed, especially when they had her humans' scent on them. So, before we left, I took off one of the socks I was wearing and slipped it into the hospital cage with her.

Never got the sock back, of course. Would do it again a thousand times.
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Old 02-10-2019, 01:02 PM
half-elf half-elf is offline
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Just read your post in the other thread. I'm so, so sorry for your loss.
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Old 02-10-2019, 03:20 PM
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I read it, too. I'm so sorry. Losing a pet is horrible.
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Old 02-11-2019, 05:51 AM
SamuelA SamuelA is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by senoy View Post
If female, it might be a good idea. They can form 'colonies' when feral, so have some idea of group structures. They don't actually share food and the colonies will break up or devolve into violence if resources are scarce, so they are not interdependent
This seems to be untrue. Food sharing seems crucial to me - a pregnant cat has a more difficult time hunting when it's weighed down with nearly finished offspring, and has trouble leaving the nest to hunt if it has kittens to watch.

-Dominant males have also been observed caring for kittens within their own colonies. They may share their food and groom young cats, and have even been witnessed breaking up fights between kittens, separating them gently with one paw when a fight gets out of hand.
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Old 02-11-2019, 06:45 PM
Napier Napier is offline
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Thank you everybody. Yes, my dear boy didn't survive. It was now a week ago that I was taking him to the first animal hospital, semi comatose. I did go to visit him the next night, and spent most of the time talking with the vet and deciding to move him to a bigger hospital with more advanced resources but further away. Only then did I get him, and he was conscious but not that with it, and not looking at me or talking as he usually did, and clearly not doing well, so I took off right away to drive him to the further vet. I got to pet him a little bit at the intake exam there, which was rushed because he was starting to have shaking or seizures apparently due to low potassium levels, and they whisked him away. A little while later I got to see him in the back, in a cage and with a collar on, and I think he was unhappy and miserable but he also didn't seem fully aware so it's hard to tell. Early the next morning they called and said his heart was suddenly failing and we chose euthanasia as quickly as possible, which I wasn't there for, as it was well more than an hour away. They said he wasn't very conscious.

I'm still a mess, I keep breaking down crying when I think of him. It always hurts so bad. I always sign up again, too, because it is so wonderful sharing life with them. But I'm sobbing now.
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Old 02-12-2019, 01:47 AM
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I lost one to diabetes, too. It's impossible to stop that downward cascade once it begins. My story is very similar to yours, rushing to the specialist from our regular vet, etc., but it was too late to do any good. Heartbreaking. I'm sorry you're going through it now. I know there isn't anything I can say that will help, but damn, I know how you're feeling.
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Old 02-12-2019, 03:24 AM
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I had exactly the same experience, rushing my diabetic kitty to the vet then transferring her to the more advanced hospital for ICU care. The hardest part was deciding when to let go. The vets were saying it could take weeks for her to turn around but it would likely keep happening. I gave her 24 hours and her labs were worse and I probably should have let her go then but it was too hard so I gave her one day more. At that point she really hadn’t eaten for three days but I keep wondering if I waited too long or not long enough. I did get to hold her when they euthanized her and I hope she knows I was doing what I thought was best. I honestly don’t know how people can keep their pets in ICU for weeks. The stress is terrible, not to mention the cost. At about $1500 daily you can easily go into five figures and then you feel even more guilty for worrying about money when your pet is sick. I’m clearly still having trouble dealing with the loss.
This is all just to say I’m really sorry about your cat and I do understand how hard it is.
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Last edited by psychobunny; 02-12-2019 at 03:26 AM.
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Old 02-12-2019, 11:20 AM
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I'm so sorry for your loss!
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Old 02-12-2019, 12:02 PM
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I'm sorry for your loss, Napier. I'm sure you were a comfort to him.
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Old 02-12-2019, 12:55 PM
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Aww, very sorry about losing your loved one.
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