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Feature March 2013 Issue

Hospital Stays: Frequently Asked Questions for cats

Q Is it okay to bring my cat’s favorite toy or blanket or a piece of clothing with my scent on it to comfort her?

A Some hospitals permit toys and blankets, but it’s not a good idea to bring them, according to John Berg, DVM, surgical specialist at Cummings. “We discourage owners from taking anything along that your cat loves because it can easily get lost,” he explains. “The cleaning staff picks things up from the cages and throws them into the laundry. It’s impossible to keep track of everything.” One option is to hold on to a washcloth or a towel that the hospital provides for a few minutes and leave your scent. You can also provide an old toy that you don’t mind replacing.

Q How often should I visit my cat?

A This varies from hospital to hospital, so ask your veterinarian. Some encourage visits, believing that they can play a role in encouraging recovery, and others discourage them, preferring that patients rest quietly. “We allow visits almost any time,” Dr. Berg says, “But we try to discourage lengthy stays because we don’t want too much owner traffic making the wards congested and noisy.”

Q Is it appropriate to call the hospital for updates and, if so, how often is allowed?

A It varies from hospital to hospital, but generally the veterinarians call the owner with daily updates. Veterinarians are in and out of surgery or busy performing procedures, so it can be difficult to get in touch with them. They generally set aside time in their schedules to make owner calls. Dr. Rozanski says, “If anything critical is going on, we will call the owner in the middle of the night, but we’re not going to call them at 2 a.m. to say, ‘Your cat is resting comfortably.’”

It’s fine to call the hospital if you have a question or concern, but Dr. Berg cautions that you shouldn’t expect the person who answers the phone to be able to give you an answer.

“It’s difficult to keep our large staff informed about all the patients, and we don’t want them to give out incorrect information,” he says. “But if you leave a message, you can expect the doctor — or someone who is familiar with your pet’s case — to phone you back.”

If possible, arrange a specific time period for the hospital to call you with updates on your cat, say between 9 and 10 a.m and again between 4 and 6 p.m., suggests Dr. Rozanski.

“We want people to feel comfortable about what’s going to happen,” Dr. Rozanski says. “We might say something like, ‘We’re going to do some blood tests on the liver and kidneys and look for signs of infection.’” She cautions, however, that clients are not going to get to the bottom of what’s wrong with their pet by asking about every single thing that could potentially occur.

“We’re always happy to talk to people about the blood work after we get the results back,” Dr. Rozanski says, “but we don’t necessarily want to spend a long time on theoretical conversations, either.”

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