British Shorthair Dies Undergoing Routine Surgery

by Irina Shendrik
(Brooklyn, NY)

My almost 7 months old British Shorthair died yesterday while having a routine spaying surgery.

My family is devastated, its a horrible tragedy for all of us.

We loved our baby Basya beyond belief..and cannot comprehend what happened.

Doctors said that when they started the anaesthesia Basya immediately went into both cardiac and respiratory arrests.

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They tried to resuscitate her for a good 40 min, but it was all in vain.

The kitten was simply gorgeous, healthy – no health problems were ever recognized.

Why did it happen? Did she suffer from congenital heart disease?

We don’t know, but very much want to find out since that is the only thing that will possibly give us some closure, some consolation.


Cat under general anesthetic

Cat under general anesthetic. This is to illustrate the cat only.

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British Shorthair Dies Undergoing Routine Surgery

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Nov 10, 2011
by: Irina Shendrik

Yes, its a beyond sad thing…almost three weeks passed, and me and my daughter are still beyond upset, grieving, and cannot really find closure…i did a lot of research on the subject, but still don’t get the answers as to why and how it all took place. this is because the vet refused to release the record, or the details on the anesthetic used, etc…We are in the process of contacting the board to get the vet to release the info – that’s the law, and the clinic is violating it…I will be updating the site with the info once it becomes available.
Thank you all for the tremendous support that we are getting

Nov 10, 2011
sorry for you loss
by: Melissa

I was reasearching what kind of cat mine is and I came across this sad article, I’m sorry for your loss, I have yet to face the loss of a pet. I was kind of excited to find out what our little girl is, the breed seems wonderful. We got her from our local animal shelter, she is a wonderful addition to our little family!! I was wondering the same thing, maybe the wrong dose of anestesia. What a horrible thing to happen, too sad.

Oct 24, 2011
by: Ruth

I am a retired vet nurse in the UK and sadly sometimes in my career saw a few unexplainable deaths when cats came in to be neutered.
Veterinary medicine has moved on since those days though and anaesthetics are supposed to be much safer and I would think good vets do a health check first or at least check over the animal’s heart before giving any anaesthetic.
You should have been offered a post mortem at the time, it may not be too late, but it may be and not show any result.
I find it unusual you weren’t asked to sign a consent form when you left Baysa for spaying as that absolves the vet of any blame if something goes wrong.
I don’t know about USA vets with regard to explaining about neutering but I do know some offer declawing without the explanation that it’s really amputation ! Does this vet declaw cats ? I certainly would not trust any vet who does because they obviously don’t care about breaking their oath to cause no animal to suffer !
I’m so sorry for you, it’s heartbreaking and no matter what you do you’ve still lost your lovely little kitten and I’d think your trust in vets too.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Oct 24, 2011
by: Irina Shendrik

My daughter and i want to thank Barbara and another respondent (sorry, i did not get your name) for the support you are giving me. Basya was an adorable little kitten, very smart, cute, playful, and most importantly, she was a very loving creature.
We did not do necropsy – nobody ever offered us the procedure, but now after we said good-bye to Basya at the vet’s clinic, she is being stored in the freezer, and i understand necropsy is hardly conclusive after that.
I want to note here that we will try to get to the bottom of the situation simply because we cannot live without knowing the truth. But all the short time that Basya was with us and followed by this vet we did not get any feeling that he is not knowledgeable of the vet medicine, etc….He was very attentive and caring – at least thats what we felt, and Basya was always comfortable with him.
Only god knows what really happend behind the closed OR doors, but right now all we are hoping and praying for is for our dear kitten to be resting in peace, pain free….

Oct 24, 2011
To Irina
by: Barbara

Irina, I’m not qualified to get into the why’s and wherefore’s of what happened but I just wanted to say how sorry I am that you lost your kitten in this way, and sorry that Basya had such a short life to enjoy with you and your family.It’s the most awful thing losing a beloved cat, to lose her so unexpectedly is cruel, no wonder you want answers.

Barbara avatar


Oct 23, 2011
Unexpected Death
by: Irina


I am SO sorry for your loss. I have a friend who shows & breeds BSH, & about 10 years ago, we were going to adopt one of her retiring stud cats after his neuter. The same thing happened to him & he was 3 years old, had never had a health problem up to that time, & had never sired anything but healthy kittens. She called us in tears. It was the only time she has ever had that happen, & the necropsy showed nothing unusual.

I hope you chose to do a necropsy on your kitten, as that is the only thing that will give you any definitive answers.

Oct 23, 2011
by: Irina Shendrik

Thank you for your response and trying to help with answering questions during this very hard time for us…
The vet denies the fact that he overdosed the med, as well as he claims that he did everything imaginable to resuscitate…
I am a Nurse Practitioner working in pain management, and anesthesia is what i deal with a lot…I am inclining to believe exactly what you said about the wrong dose, dilution or speed of administration…I think they are trying to cover their trails, and refusing to give me the true picture of what really happened.
My daughter and I are going to speak with the vet tomorrow, since we need to know the answers and the truth in the first place.
I would like to ask you some questions:
1. Were we supposed to be explained the step-by-step process and anesthesia to be used?
2. Were we supposed to sign any paperwork about the surgery?
3. When the animal died of unknown causes, is the vet supposed to report this event to the FDA?
4. Do they need to perform the post-mortem necropsy to confirm the cause of death in cases of unexplained death or are they allowed to assume that it was a drug reaction?
5. Can I report them in this case to the vet licensing board? i mean considering that i suspect the case of malpractice but have no full proof?
6.And finally, is there a way to obtain a full proof?

Thank you so very much for publishing my story – it’s sort of a consolation to my soul…

Oct 23, 2011
Very Sad
by: Michael

I am very sorry to hear your story. It is awful. I’ll refer to the Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook.

First though what did the vet say? Is there the possibility that the vet made an error rather than your cat being particularly sensitive to the anesthetic?

The amount of anesthetic used depends on the cat’s weight.

The anesthetic is often administered in “repeated small doses…rather than all at once.” Was it given all at once? Was the correct amount given for the size of your cat?

For gas, the exact amount needs to administered for the individual cat. Certain breeds have an increased sensitivity to barbiturates and other anesthesia. This must be taken into account. Was this taken into account? Ask your vet. I cannot find any genetic diseases that affect this cat breed that might have caused this.

Normally it appears that thin, lightweight cats are more at risk or flat faced cats. The British SH can have a flattish face if breed to extreme.

A cat with heart disease, liver, kidney or lung disease is at increased risk.

I am not sure of the percentages by I believe that 1 in 100 to 1 in 1000 cats die under anesthetic. This may be incorrect but what is certain is that there is a risk of injury or death under anesthetic.

Vomiting under anesthetic is a risk too but this appears not to have happened.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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