Cat Drools, NC Vet Gets Frothy

Matthews, NCFamily:  Hi.  Our 2 year old cat has never been been outdoors or even been around another animal.  He seems to be drooling.

Vet:  OK, he probably just got into something he shouldn’t have.  Here’s some medicine.

Family:  Coolio.  By the way, we had him vaccinated when he was a kitten.  Are we supposed to get him a booster shot at some point?

Vet:  RABIES!  Your cat is rabid!  He must die!

Family:  Dude.  You just said –

Vet: This is a hair-on-fire emergency. I’m calling the Health Department.

County Health Department (on phone to Vet):  Too many people have potentially been exposed to rabies from this cat.  Cat must die!

Family:  No see, our cat’s never been outside or been around other animals, like we said.  There’s no risk of rabies here.

Vet:  Rabies Will Robinson!

So the vet killed the family’s pet, cut off his head and sent it to the state lab for rabies testing.  The results were negative.

Drooling is a very common reaction in cats and stems from a wide variety of possible causes.  Some cats drool when they are being pet, for example.  But maybe they are all rabid too.  And the rabies vaccine this cat had received may still have been offering protection anyway – not that he needed it, since he was strictly indoors-only.  But yeah, rabies.  I mean:  RABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And if all the violent hysteria associated with a drooling cat isn’t enough for you, WCNC in Charlotte ends their story with this tidbit:

NBC Charlotte checked with the county and looked over the law. Officials say quarantine was not an option because too many people were potentially exposed to rabies, and rabies is 100-percent fatal.

Why is the number of people potentially exposed even an issue?  The cat didn’t walk across the laps of a stadium full of people between home and the vet’s office, did he?  If the size of this family was smaller, would the cat still be alive today?  And since “rabies is 100% fatal”, which gives the impression that extreme measures must be taken even in highly questionable cases, I guess somebody should let the CDC know they may as well chuck their post-exposure vaccination protocols since everyone is going to die.  No exceptions.  Least of all for cats who drool and their families who love them.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Leave a comment

37 Comments

  1. ruthrawls

     /  December 18, 2013

    Kill my cat and see what happens. This vet needs to be reported to the state disciplinary board.
    I worked for an older vet who wife was involved in the practice. While not a vet, she did like to practice medicine and diagnose cases. Two years ago, almost exactly at this time of year, some folks brought in their kitten who was tremoring. The kitten had been born to a feral mother who still lived outside, and the people were able to socialize the kitten and keep her in the house. They caught her chewing on a wooden painted Christmas ornament shortly before she started tremoring. So they left the kitten at the vet’s office for observation. At one point I was observing and handling the kitten, and the vet’s wife told me that I did not have permission to handle the kitten, only her husband, the vet, because it might have rabies. I said no, it doesn’t have rabies. She further stated that she didn’t like all the feral cats in the community because they were carrying disease. I told her that the mother cat and her kittens who still lived outside were not ill; it was when the kitten came indoors that it got sick. She stated again that we were not to handle the kitten. So the vet got in on it and euthanized the cat, sent the head off to the state lab, and received the negative report. He called the owners and said, “I have good news. The cat was not rabid.”
    No comment as to why the cat started tremoring.

    Reply
    • Rachel

       /  December 18, 2013

      That sounds more like lead poisoning than rabies, particulary given the chewing on a painted ornament.

      Reply
      • ruthrawls

         /  December 18, 2013

        Yes, common sense does not tell us that the problem is rabies.

  2. lizardmarsh

     /  December 18, 2013

    Thank you for this report Shirley. This idiocy probably happens all the time in North Carolina but is not made known :-(

    Reply
  3. Jamie

     /  December 18, 2013

    Seriously, so they figured it was enough of an emergency because so many people had potentially be exposed to immediately kill the kitty but I don’t see a single thing about getting the family post-exposure vaccines. You’d think if they were so worried they would follow through with that. Because it’s 100% fatal, you know.

    What a bunch of crap.

    I was actually just thinking about rabies this morning because fairly recently a dog in a NM pound was diagnosed with rabies and from what I understand they killed all of the other dogs in the pound whether they had come into contact or not. I guess people figure it’s airborne or something. And since they have a very low save rate I guess they figure it doesn’t make sense to quarantine the other dogs because they would just kill them in the end. But I don’t think they sent any of the other dogs off for rabies testing so I guess they didn’t actually think it was a hiuge possibility that the other dogs were rabid, after all.

    Reply
  4. Kathryn Hargreaves

     /  December 18, 2013

    Some cats drool if you pet them. It’s a sign of affection.

    Reply
  5. There is so much stupid and incompetence in this world, sometimes I wonder if the rest of us are in the minority. Kill cats for drooling? If I was that family, I would take some serious legal action. That vet is totally incompetent and basically so is everyone else involved. Start with quarantine . . .

    And as far as the formerly feral kitten tremoring, there are a whole lot of reasons why cats can tremor (or drool) and they aren’t rabies.

    Breaks my heart to think of all the animals who suffer at the hands of these nincompoops! (If I had said what I want to say, I’d be banned . . .)

    Reply
  6. Anne Thomas

     /  December 18, 2013

    Do you think that maybe the vet was afraid that the cat’s human companions might have brushed up against some rabies virus while they were outside and then inadvertently infected the cat? I believe that distemper (pan leukopenia) can be spread this way. I don’t think that rabies can be spread from humans to cats through casual contact, but the vet might have believed that the humans had exposed the cat to rabies.

    Reply
    • If that’s the case, this vet needs to find another line of work. It IS just plain stupid!

      Reply
    • This is what the CDC says re rabies transmission:

      The most common mode of rabies virus transmission is through the bite and virus-containing saliva of an infected host. Though transmission has been rarely documented via other routes such as contamination of mucous membranes (i.e., eyes, nose, mouth), aerosol transmission, and corneal and organ transplantations.

      Reply
  7. mikken

     /  December 18, 2013

    Just stupid. I would sue the vet. That kind of incompetence needs to be stamped out before it spreads to the community and threatens everyone. Just. Like. Rabies.

    Too bad there isn’t a vaccine for Stupid.

    Reply
    • FixCharlotte

       /  December 18, 2013

      @mikken… I believe the quote is “You Can’t Fix Stupid”! (Ron White)

      Geez, my late cat drooled her entire life because she had a fang that was crooked & held her mouth open. One of her most endearing qualities was the drool. *snif*

      Reply
      • mikken

         /  December 18, 2013

        Seriously. I’ve seen cats drool from nausea, bad teeth, and happy (I’ve got a drooler who runs like a fountain when she’s being brushed – loves it!). You would think that a vet would go with one of the most common reasons for drooling FIRST, rather than jump to one of the most UNLIKELY conclusions (and a fatal one at that) right off.

        File this one under “but no one WANTS to kill animals”…

  8. Lisa B

     /  December 18, 2013

    I had a cat who would drool if I whistled “Hail to The Chief.” Seriously. And it’s actually a well-guarded secret that one rabies shot is capable of conferring immunity for five or more years.

    Reply
    • mikken

       /  December 18, 2013

      Yeah, I like the little bit of victim-blaming there…it was clearly the owner’s fault for not boostering. Bullshit. Did the vet even think to run a titer? The cat was only two and had been already vaccinated once – indoor-only, etc. Chances of that animal being rabid are ridiculously low.

      There was absolutely no reason to kill that cat…unless the vet gets off on killing, of course.

      Reply
      • Lisa

         /  December 19, 2013

        I agree, however NC will not accept a titer. I was denied a license for a terminally ill pet with a rabies titer and notorized letter from my vet.

      • Christine Zois

         /  December 19, 2013

        So now they should come up with another reason not to allow a 10 day quarantine on a cat that had never been one step outside or subjected to another animal.

  9. FixCharlotte

     /  December 18, 2013

    Jack’s owner has set up a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/justice4jack
    Please share far & wide!

    Reply
    • Thanks for that. I’m glad they are not giving up. Also, there are more details on the backstory available on this page for anyone interested.

      Reply
      • mikken

         /  December 18, 2013

        Yeah, sounds like the cat had an adverse reaction to Buprenex. That’s when the drooling started. Now I’m wondering if they ran bloodwork before administering it because if the cat was ill because his liver was compromised, you can definitely run into trouble with Buprenex.

        I hope that they get a good lawyer.

      • Or maybe, instead of sending him home with pain pills, the vet accidentally sent him home with RABIES PILLS!!!!!!!!!!!111111!!!!!11

        On Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 12:09 PM, YesBiscuit!

      • mikken

         /  December 18, 2013

        What a mix up!

  10. This sort of thing is why I get so nervous with JJ at the vet. He CAN’T be vaccinated because he has severe vaccine reactions, but he can also become very aggressive at the vet’s office. I constantly have to fight with various vets that yes, I really do want a muzzle, because I do NOT want this cat biting someone and having to go through quarantine or, god forbid, possibly losing his life. His aggression is unpredictable, so sometimes he’ll seem perfectly fine and then just blow up and try to eat someone’s face. For some reason, vets just don’t want to muzzle him (I think because he’s blind they assume he can’t possibly be dangerous.) And because I’m a vet tech, they seem to think it reflects badly on me if I can’t restrain him, so I have to keep repeating that it’s not for our protection, it’s for HIS.

    As a tech, I’ve been seriously bitten three times by unvaccinated cats with neurological symptoms. That made them all rabies suspects. One of the cats who bit me was euthanized due to the severity of his illness (he had an infection of toxo in the brain, which caused symptoms very similar to rabies.) The other two were quarantined, recovered, and went home despite having potentially exposed both their families and everyone in the office. That’s what quarantine is FOR…so you don’t have to kill negative animals.

    An infected animal can only transmit rabies after the onset of symptoms (there is a period before this is which they are infected, but can’t pass on the virus.) Once symptoms appear, death follows rapidly…so if they show symptoms and you quarantine them and they live through the quarantine period, they don’t have rabies and you’re fine. If they DO die and then test positive, people who have been exposed can then be vaccinated. Rabies isn’t a fast virus…it has an incubation period, and it’s only fatal once symptoms are shown. Really, there’s no benefit to immediately euthanizing. If the cat did test positive, everyone exposed would still need to be vaccinated…it’s not like finding out a week earlier would change the outcome.

    Reply
  11. missjanenc

     /  December 18, 2013

    First of all, I’d love to know who these idiot vets are so word can get out and they can be boycotted/shamed. I wonder if the idiot checked the cat’s mouth to see if it had teeth issues which can cause drooling. In any case, it’s really crappy the cat owner didn’t have a current rabies vaccination. Even if it’s an indoor cat, state law mandates it.

    Reply
    • We don’t play Blame the Victims on this blog.

      Reply
    • State law is well behind acceptable and safe vaccination protocols in many places. It is not necessary OR healthy to vaccine yearly for rabies. This is especially true for cats, who can develop cancer from vaccination. A good vaccination protocol is one that takes into account the individual circumstances of the patient. Indoor only animals should be vaccinated every three years OR titered to demonstrate immunity. I’m a vet tech and my own cats are not vaccinated. JJ can’t be, as above, because he once developed a large mass of inflammatory tissue at the site of a rabies vaccination. The mass was removed and examined at the University of Penn and thankfully had not developed into a sarcoma. I don’t care what the laws are, I’m not risking his life by vaccinating him again. My other cat, Robin, is indoor only and terrified of the outdoors, so I don’t have to worry about her escaping. She’s not vaccinated because it simply isn’t necessary considering her individual circumstances, and less vaccines are better.

      In the end, the owners’ actions didn’t kill their cat. The vet did, based on inaccurate understanding of rabies transmission and incubation time. As the vet is meant to be the expert, that’s inexcusable.

      Reply
  12. Christine Zois

     /  December 18, 2013

    Kindly post the name of the vet, I need to make sure NO ONE I KNOW EVER UTILIZES THEM. This level of INCOMPETANCE is beyond my comprehension.

    Reply
  13. carlapage54

     /  December 18, 2013

    i would sue the vet!

    Reply
  14. Piper

     /  December 18, 2013

    If this had happened to me and one of my cats it would have made national news- and I would be in prison for a very, very long time. My cats are family, and you don’t mess with my family. This is so sad and insane.

    Reply
  15. Kittypurr

     /  December 23, 2013

    I have very few vets I trust. Most of them – it’s all about the money to the detriment of the animals they are supposed to “care” about.
    They way over vaccinate. Are too quick on the draw for steroid shots, and inappropriate selection of antibiotic use. I don’t know what they are teaching at the vet schools or in ongoing CME but I believe that how to make more money is at the top of the list- and medicine is the vehicle. Declawing is a perfect example.
    There is an ongoing problem with vaccination sites because of the compounds in the vaccines causing injection site sarcomas- and resultant amputation. So much so that injection sites have recently changed on cats so you can amputate the leg- they are also looking at changing the new site to the tail to reduce amputation of the legs. Vaccine makers and the FDA don’t seem concerned enough to look at the ingredients to prevent this mutilation. It’s only cats after all.

    Reply
    • I am not currently a cat owner but I love cats and hope to have one again someday. This issue you are talking about is alarming. Do you have any links from veterinarians or vet journals that you think address this issue adequately? I am interested to read.

      Reply
      • mikken

         /  December 23, 2013

        Vaccine-associate sarcoma – http://www.vascats.com/id1.html

        Also known as injection site sarcoma – http://smallanimal.vethospital.ufl.edu/clinical-services/oncology/types-of-cancer-and-treatment/injection-site-sarcomas-cats/

        Which is why vets now record not only what was injected, but where it was injected. And yes, they are looking at tail injections (some vets are already doing it) because amputation would be easier on the tail.

      • Cats in general can develop cancer from any thing that causes an inflammation process, in a way that dogs simply do not. One of the reasons we removed JJ’s remaining eye was over the fear of post-traumatic ocular sarcoma, which is a very lethal form of cancer that can develop in badly damaged feline eyes. The chance of it developing is slim, but knowing JJ’s luck…(and his body’s proven overreaction to inflammatory processes.)

        The sarcoma that develops from vaccines is particularly troubling because it can spread microscopically far from the initial site, and also because attempting to biopsy it can make the cancer spread faster and further. This means that a ‘biopsy’ on a suspected vaccine related sarcoma needs to be deep and have very wide margins. You can’t just take a small piece off, wait for the results, and then go back in only if necessary. You need to treat it as presumed sarcoma from the start or else you risk doing more damage to the patient.

        Because it spreads microscopically, this also means that even amputation may not save the animal. We vaccinate as far down the leg as possible to at least give them a fighting chance, but even so the cancer can spread upwards and show itself years after the amputation. So it’s a very bad cancer indeed, and even if it is relatively rare, cats should be vaccinated as little as possible (while still protecting their health.)

    • Eucritta

       /  December 23, 2013

      Here’s an article on it that looks to be updated and contains the basics:
      http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?S=0&C=0&A=526

      AAFP is here, and they’ve .pdf files for their most recent guidelines:
      http://www.catvets.com/

      My vet has said that there’s also some anecdota suggesting a possible link with preservatives in vaccines, but she’s never given me a reference for it. It’s just come up because she uses vaccines which have neither adjuvants nor preservatives, and makes unhappy scrunchy faces when records show that a previous vet did not.

      Reply
  16. Lisa

     /  December 25, 2013

    This makes me so nervous. My previous cat wasn’t vaccinated for the past 2 years (we’ve always used Purevax which is only licensed for one year) of her life because the vet felt that she was too sick for vaccinations and being indoor-only there wasn’t much of a risk – there is a provision in the state of NY for sick animals. She was indoor-only, senior, and suffering from IBD and defective heart valve and had a history of congestive heart failure. Thankfully, she was never a biter and probably by then didn’t have enough teeth left to pierce skin (was missing 3 of 4 canines).

    Now I have recently adopted two kittens. They haven’t yet been vaccinated for Rabies because they were too young when transferred from the shelter to the rescue group, and the rescuer didn’t do it because she thought them too young. She told me they were only 3 months old, but based on the original papers from the shelter and my vet’s opinion based on their teeth, they are actually 5-6 months. When I brought them to the vet, she said she couldn’t give Rabies vaccine because they’ve just had distemper at the rescuer and at least 2 weeks needs to be passed between vaccinations. But within next week the kitties developed a number of small bald patches and by next appointment (that I moved forward because of patches) they had rampant ringworm. Or at least strong suspicion of ringworm – we are still waiting for culture, but clinical signs are all there, and the Wood’s lamp exam was positive, so the vet felt it makes sense to start treating. The vet wasn’t very keen on giving vaccine at this point, and she felt as I am bringing them for Lime Sulphur dips to the vet every week (I can’t handle it myself, they wiggle too much, it took 2 vet techs and with help from a vet to dip them last time, and with lesions around the eyes….) she felt she can always vaccinate them during one of those visits, but for the moment it may make sense to wait. So…. I now have two indoor-only 5-6 months kittens that aren’t vaccinated for Rabies, whom the vet techs handle every week and who might just bite them. So far, the kittens haven’t shows themselves to be aggressive, but I am really scared they’ll bite a vet tech. I am doing everything with the vet’s recommendation, but still. Oh well, I have to hope they don’t bite anybody.

    At any rate, it’s really outrageous what’s happened with this family.

    Reply
  17. mikken

     /  December 26, 2013

    And that’s what’s so dumb about this – any indoor-only cat has essentially *already been quarantined* for rabies.

    Reply

Speak!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: