Thursday, November 13, 2008

Never-ending saga of a cat with a blocked bladder

This all started innocently, with a call from one of our local private vets asking for help for one of their clients. The cat had a completely blocked bladder, so needed urgent surgery to remove the stone which was causing the blockage. Without this, his bladder would almost certainly rupture and he would suffer a painful death. 

I agreed that we would cover the cost of emergency treatment to save the cat's life, but explained that we can only give help at private vets on a one-off basis and that the owner would need to register with our clinic and use that for future help. At that stage it turned out that this lady has several more cats, so I asked her to get them all registered so that they would be eligible for out of hours treatment in an emergency as well. 

The operation was successful and, a few days later, the vet called to notify me that a CP (Cat's Protection) volunteer had offered to drive the owner and all her cats to our clinic for registration. 

Yesterday evening the poor CP volunteer phoned to say that she'd collected the original cat from the vet, but the owner was now refusing to let us see the rest. This is never a good sign, and it turns out that CP had already been trying unsuccessfully to persuade her to have them spayed (at their expense). Agreed the CP volunteer should bring the sick cat in for a check-up in any case as he needs ongoing treatment for the bladder problem.

Unfortunately the Vet School decided that they legally couldn't see him without the owner's permission. Frantic examination of the rules on conduct of vets threw up the suggestion that, as vets are entitled to hold animals if the owner won't pay, it would be legally possible for the private vet to take him back for continuing care. This isn't a solution, but it's better than taking the risk that the owner will have him back and just ignore his condition until he's at death's door again.

At this stage, I'm afraid we've got no alternative to passing the problem to our local inspector, as the cats are clearly at risk and the sick one can't stay at the private vet indefinitely. I don't know how much of all this is due to the level of fear of the RSPCA which is encouraged by irresponsible reporting and campaigns by vested interests, but it certainly can't help matters.

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