Owner's 4-week hospitalization - pet sitter starved my cat

by Lisa K
(Orange County California)

Murphy my cat

Murphy my cat

Hello. I am writing to receive advice on a very sensitive subject. In September, I shattered both ankles and had surgery then 2 months in a rehab facility. My vet forwarded me her very good friend who agreed to sit for my kitties. My female kitty is a very fragile kitty, 12 years old. She has feline asthma, and was a previous diabetic kitty but has been off the juice since April 2011. She had a very good appetite and was eating wet food twice per day, perfectly.

So, the sitter would come every 12 hours, feed the cats and then leave. They were alone for at least 10-11 hours during the day and then at night. She apparently, and not to my surprise, became very inappetant from apparent pining for me. She had lost over 2 pounds in about 3 weeks and the week prior to my returning home, she had lost 2 pounds in 7 days.

The situation gets even weirder -- I had ordered some very special treats for my babies and had contacted her to see if they liked them -- she said they loved them and they could hardly stay away from them. But, when I returned home last week, I found both packages of treats had never been opened. As I looked at my 12-year old siamese, I then noticed that he appeared to have suffered no trauma whatsoever. I believe this is because his food is kept on the counter top away from my little girl b/c when she was diabetic, she could not have dry food. So, he ate hardy, and she had nothing.

She would eat very little of the food that the sitter would leave down for her, and would take up the food when she left, so my little baby was starving to death. Only eating at the most, 1/2 can of food per day. When I would contact the sitter, she would tell me she was eating well.

She's lost a total of 4 pounds in a little less than one month. I had a gut instinct that something was not right as I lay in a rehab facility and asked the sitter to take the two of my cats to the vet's office for boarding, have a senior panel done on Murphy and a urinalysis. She had a terrific panel. She did, however, have a UTI.

When she came home, she appeared very "shell shocked," and afraid, almost severely traumatized and I am having a hard time getting her back on her scheduled eating. She hid for over 2 days. She appears to now have some sort of disconnect with food and taking herself to the food dish without my coercing her to do so. I believe she has suffered some sort of trauma due to the inattention of her need to eat a full meal twice per day.

While I am having some success at almost teaching her to feed again, she does go in and out of inappetance. I doubt that the UTI would cause her to lose 4 pounds in a month.

I desperately need some ideas on how I can manage her until she gets her appetite back. My vet has prescribed an appetite suppressant which I will use for a time, but not for long. What I need to stay away from is hepalipidosis. I had a friend come over 3 days ago to syringe feed her -- something that I've never had to do. When I weighed her last night, she had gained .9 ounces, which is great. (that's in days)

Any ideas on finding a way to give her the will to regain her strength to eat would be appreciated.

What a terrible story and one that is rather difficult to advise on as I have not had this situation myself. It does sound like you are on top of things though and that her weight gain should continue now you are taking care of her again.

I will leave this question open for my other helpful visitors to help with if they have had experience with this sort of problem themselves. I always think that experience is worth so much.

I hope she is better soon and that you are also on the mend now.

Best wishes Kate

Comments for Owner's 4-week hospitalization - pet sitter starved my cat

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So sorry
by: Jami

I hope things have gotten better. I hope you are healed or healing well. I have a pet sitter make sure they are insured and bonded some say they are but get documents. I have a feral kitty that I nurtured and loved into a lap kitty and all of sudden he got skitish and is terrified of my husband. I NEVER leave them alone with him anymore. I am not sure what happened but completely unacceptable. Helpless little babies don't deserve to be abused. I hope things are better for you now.

about sitter
by: jesskittyluv

Absolutely let the vet know, you don't want this to happen to others. Cats are rather high strung animals and when you develop a routine it's important to them, especially if it's a health issue. I hope you have success with your little sweetie!

oh1 more thing
by: Anonymous

Oh and Is the pet sitter runs a buisness doing this?? I would ask any of the other clients about their experience with her trustworthyness, and if anything has ever happened before..

You could not say anything, get one of the 'nanny cams' and see what the sitter actually does to the cats. Sue her if she abuses them thats all I can say.

something smells fishy
by: Anonymous

I honestly think something traumatic must have happened if the cat has been traumatized, the lack of attention, IMHO doesnt make turn a companion into a hiding wreck in only a few weeks.
I would be asking what the hell she did physically and mentally to your cats and more specifically if she actually attacked them at all, because it sounds like she is obviously a liar, and the fact that she was "inappetant from apparent pining for me" is more likely that she has been smacked/slapped to "shut her up", chased around the house being hissed at, it sounds like your sitter was a nasty person and a liar to me.

Did your cat hiss and back into corners now when people approach her? Obvious sign of abuse if so and I feel very sorry for you and think your friend is not really a nice person.

I am thinking, did she even feed them at all? Or feed them when she was supposed to? Maybe she only came every 2-3days because she is a liar and lazy and because she obviously doesnt care one thing about your cat/s..

Sorry if im totally wrong here but just my opinion.

Pet Sitter Starved Cat
by: Liz

Most importantly I would be telling your vet that her good friend pet-sitter needs some training on how to care for cats, or stop recommending her.

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