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fatal cardiomyopathy in trapped cat

December 9th, 2009, 09:08 PM
As part of a group newly formed to do trap/neuter/release of feral colonies in our small town, I trapped and took a feral in the trap, covered with a blanket to keep it calm, to the vet. I'd brought a carrier and was given the cat back, spayed, in the carrier later in the day. Unusually, it was still asleep. Thinking maybe it had been a bit over-sedated as it was wildly combative when the anesthetic tube was removed, I took it home to the "recovery room" I'd created, left the carrier door open, and waited about 4 hours. When I went in to check on its progress after her spaying, I found her in the very same position and realized she was dead. The vet autopsied her today and said it was stress induced cardiomyopathy caused by being in the trap too long. (I'd set the trap at 3:15 a.m. and collected her in the trap at 7:30 a.m.) I'd tried trapping her the previous day with only one and a half hours between setting the trap, then checking for results in time to make it to vet's deadline, but no cat took the bait. However, I was told that my successful trapping meant she was in the trap for too long (by the way, the trap was covered with a blanket to provide security, so it wasn't exposed). I feel guilty, but have never had this happen with previous trapping I've done, and previous cats were in for a longer period. I feel the staff erred by not checking the cat's condition frequently prior to discharging her to me. But if I'm the guilty one, I of course feel sick about it. Any opinions on who's correct or what I should have done?

December 9th, 2009, 09:24 PM
I don't think anyone is to blame, it was just a terrible turn of events. Although I've never had a cat released to me that wasn't awake and responsive, that's a little off. I'm so sorry that it didn't work out for this poor girl. Don't blame yourself, and don't stop what you do. And share your story so that maybe others will check traps more frequently. So sorry for your loss:grouphug:, and for the poor kitty:rip::candle:, did you give her a name?

December 9th, 2009, 09:44 PM
How old was the cat? That may have had something to do with the stress causing death. I do not in any way feel it was because she was in the trap too long. I have trapped cats part way through the night numerous times and have never ever had any issues. The cat must have had some condition beforehand which you had no way of knowing that lead to her demise. In fact if she was alive when she went into the vet she should have been alive coming out. If in fact she was so stressed being in the trap you would think it would have caused problems before she got to the vet.

IMO the vet should never ever have release a cat who was "still sleeping". In the past two years I have had slightly over 40 cats s/n. None of them have come back to me asleep. Probably 15 of those cats have been true ferals. Most of the others were semi ferals. They should have been checking on her to ensure she was capable of being released.

In no way is this your fault!! In fact you should be thanked profusely for taking on a never ending job. If no one else has done that allow me. Thank you very very much!! :grouphug: Please do not allow one bad experience to stop you from trapping, spaying and neutering. It is a very much needed job. Thank you :angel:

:candle::rip: little angel :candle:

December 10th, 2009, 07:08 AM
I don't believe it was the trap, if she was under sedation for spaying, I would think that may be the cause, especially if she had a heart issues to begin with. So please don't feel guilty at all! :grouphug:

December 10th, 2009, 07:23 AM
Critterlover,thank you for being a kitty-angel:grouphug:
I am certain this kitty had an underlying problem,nobodies fault,if anyone is to blame,it's not you for sure.
She should have been awake before she was released to you..
:rip:little girl:candle:

December 21st, 2009, 07:07 AM
Thankyou all - I went to my own vet who said it sure sounded like stress cardiomyopathy, but he felt it was a pre-existing condition & time in the trap was not my fault (I learned they didn't spay her immediately, and may have removed the blanket covering the trap causing more stress - staff inexperienced with ferals, it would seem). He added that my "recovery room" would have been a bad idea as would be very stressful for a feral, no matter how private and cosy. Best to trap, fix, release - but NOT in bitter cold winter, my vet said. So we'll resume trapping in spring and use birth control drops from the vet our group is using for now. My vet made sense. In the past, I trapped 4 cats but allowed them to heal up for a week before I released them. The person who started this cat rescue group frets that they went away and died from stress - I can't find much on the internet about the rate of cardiomyopathy in ferals. However, it makes perfect sense to lessen stress by trying things like sedatives in the water put in the trap (as per the first vet - who will have certain protocols in place next time, such as prompt "fixing" and monitoring better), and trapping only in warmer weather. I'm hoping someone else will take over trapping this colony when the time comes. It's easy enough, but I'd rather not get a sore heart... Thanks for the support, though, folks!