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Dr. Gary
Dr. Gary, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 3903
Experience:  DVM, Emergency Veterinarian, BS (Physiology)
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My wife and I have a tenant in our home who had two pet

Customer Question

Hi, my wife and I have a tenant in our home who had two pet cats. As it turns out the room she kept the cats was infested with fleas and both cats had tape worms. The tenant was in the Navy and asked if while she was away for three weeks if we would feed the two cats one half can of food in the morning and one half can at night. we did so and after two and one half weeks one cat seemed to be acting funny so my wife took the cat to the vet....the vet proposed we put the cat down that it wouldn't survive. San Diego County Animal Abuse was notified and the picked up the body of the cat and did an autopsy which proved the cat died of malnutrition (also the tape worms) and quickly paid us a visit, read us our rights, and proceeded to bring felony charges against us saying we never fed the cat that died. I am witness to the feeding of the cat so I can say without question that we fed the cat as instructed by the owner.....I can't get any vets to help review this case for me....they seem to be afraid of being sued or perhaps the idea of going against the County scares them.....any suggestions?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Jess K replied 1 year ago.

Hello, this is Dr. Jess. I am sorry to hear about your situation. The problem here may likely lie in the fact that you were indeed feeding both cats (I assume the other cat is healthy, which would provide evidence that you weren't purposely starving the cats), but only one cat was eating. If the tenant didn't ask you to ensure the cats were eating or regularly look in on them, then this could have happened. People tend to think cats are self sufficient and just having someone feed them will suffice, but if she was gone for weeks, they truly did need more than just someone putting some food into their bowl daily... Many cats would do just fine with this, but if there was an underlying health issue that caused one to stop eating, this obviously can become a dangerous set up. It sounds like this is just a very unfortunate series of occurences.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Jessica,
Thankyou for your response.....We could be spending up to one year in jail because of this incident.....do you think that is fair? I simply can't find a Vet that will speak up on our behalf....the cat died and now someone has to pay.
The way I see it is simple....both cats had tape worms. That is undisputed. The cat that died had a neurological disorder that made it awkward, fall over, etc.....The dominating cat was starving from the tape worm and ate most the food. The case is most unfortunate and if the owner had properly cared for these cats then we wouldn't have been left with this Hot Potato!
I am willing to pay for an unbiased report in this case.....I will not tell you what to say but am simply asking does the autopsy report prove it case....that my wife and I did not do as the owner asked....that we NEVER fed the cats as asked.
This is an important case in my opinion......it exposes Good People to felony charges.
Can you help?
Regards
Tim Alls(###) ###-####
Expert:  Jess K replied 1 year ago.

I would have the other cat examined by a vet to provide evidence that the cats were living together and food was provided. If you had truly been "starving" the cats, then both of them would have been starving, not just the one. I think this might be the key here.

The hard part I think will be proving you did what was asked of you by the tennant, unless there was something written or a phone text or something saying she just asked you to feed the cats and nothing else, that is probably going to be the tough part.

Perhaps if you can get a vet to examine the second cat and say that it was not deprived of food, they will be willing to give this statement, which will provide evidence you weren't neglecting your agreement.