How Two Cats Died This Week

Phil Zeltzman explains the mistakes and consequence choices made by clients behind the unfortunate deaths of two cats.



I am sorry to say that two cats died unnecessarily this week.

Joe and Jill* had just bought some new furniture. Beautiful, designer, expensive furniture. So when their cat Socks* displayed a little too much interest in said furniture, they decided that after three years of living strictly indoors, he would make a great outdoor cat.

Of course, as any experienced vet or tech could have guessed it, it took a whole three days for Socks to get injured. He sustained a comminuted, distal tibia fracture.

Socks’ referring vet called me to fix the poor cat’s leg. We discussed an estimate, which we both felt was fair. A few hours later came the non-negotiable verdict: euthanasia.

Turns out that Joe and Jill are both unemployed—two more victims of our current economic crisis.

This leads me to ask a few silly questions:

• Did jobless Joe and Jill really need to splurge and buy such fancy furniture?
• Would Socks have survived, had he been declawed?
• If you were Socks, would it be better to be claw-less and indoors, or clawed and turn into ashes?
• Would amputation have been a reasonable compromise? As in, rather three legged than dead?

Of course, these questions shall remain without answers…

Our other kitty du jour is Cleo*, a silly, 11-month old kitten.

Her owner happens to have gorgeous hair. And she likes hair ties. Actually, she loves hair ties. She has them “all over the house.”

Sadly, Cleo decided to see how many could fit in her stomach. Quite a few it turns out. She was able to vomit a few, but then kept vomiting and became anorexic. Abdominal rads revealed at least two still presented in her intestine (based on the number of radiopaque metal clips).

Cleo’s referring vet called me to perform an exploratory laparotomy. We discussed an estimate, which we both felt was fair. I called Catherine*, the owner. We discussed the ins and outs of the surgery (no pun intended). She was totally on board. Then I explained, as I always do, the postop care. Sadly, the idea of strict postop confinement was unbearable for Catherine.

She suddenly became overwhelmed and said she had to hang up and would call back in five minutes. She called back 15 minutes later. We played this little game twice.

The non-negotiable verdict: euthanasia.

Catherine mumbled a few words about the high cost of surgery, her totally hectic life, the misery Cleo would endure during confinement … All of the typical excuses.

Needless to say, the fact that Catherine was 100 percent responsible for what happened to Cleo was not something we could mention or she would acknowledge.

Yet Cleo will soon be cremated, hair ties and all.

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a mobile, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, Pa. He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound: How You and Your Dog Can Lose Weight, Stay Fit, and Have Fun Together.”

* Of course, as in almost all of my writings, all names are fictitious. The stories, however, are unfortunately true.

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How Two Cats Died This Week

Phil Zeltzman explains the mistakes and consequence choices made by clients behind the unfortunate deaths of two cats.

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