Brea, Calif. (Sept. 22, 2014) – Charm has always been the most problematic of Jill Rygwalski’s three silver-shaded Persian cats, but his good looks and charming personality have always kept him out of serious trouble. That is, until one day at their Woodbridge, VA home, when Charm’s mouser mischief took a near tragic turn after he swallowed more than three feet of packaging tape. Charm’s inexplicable injury and incredible recovery have earned him the title of August’s "Most Unusual Claim of the Month" by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance.
On the day of Charm’s feast, Jill was out of town picking up a new kitten for the family when she received a call from her pet sitter. The sitter explained that she had arrived to find vomit throughout the house, but couldn’t figure out which pet was sick. Fearing that one her pets was suffering, Jill immediately left for home. When she arrived, all of her pets were excited to see her and meet the new kitten, except for Charm.
“When I got home with the kitten, the other two cats and the dog rushed to the door to greet us, but Charm was nowhere to be found,” said Jill. “When I found him in the other room, he was acting strange and wouldn’t come out from hiding. I even offered him his favorite treat, and when he refused, I knew something was wrong. Thankfully we have VPI and could just jump in the car and go to the emergency room without worrying about the cost.”
Once at the animal hospital, the veterinary team examined Charm thoroughly, but his X-rays and blood levels all appeared normal. However, over the next couple days the troubled tomcat refused to eat, so Jill took Charm to her longtime family veterinarian. The veterinarian took more X-rays, and this time something translucent and faint appeared that didn’t seem to be food. Charm was again sent home with medication and high hopes that the indistinct foreign substance would pass on its own.
The next day Jill could hear Charm coughing something up, and what came out left her in disbelief. Charm had vomited a wad of packaging tape that stretched 18 inches long and one inch wide. Despite his regurgitation, Charm seemed to get worse overnight, so Jill took him back to the animal hospital the next morning. The veterinarian suspected that more of the substance could still be in Charm’s system and prescribed a laxative. Jill and her veterinarian hoped the tape would pass on its own or else surgery was inevitable. Thankfully the next day, Jill watched with relief as Charm visited the litter box multiple times, eventually passing another 19 inches of tape.
“Charm is a very lucky cat! Not all felines are able to pass items they ingest; frequently exploratory abdominal surgery is the only option,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Cats don’t have as many problems with foreign body ingestion as dogs. That is, they don’t typically chew up and swallow remote controls or shoes, but cats are often attracted to string-like objects, which when eaten can be very difficult to diagnose and require surgery to remove from the intestines. As a general rule of thumb, cat owners should keep string, thread and other seemingly attractive linear objects out of their cats’ reach.”
After passing all the tape, Charm is back to his normal charismatic self. Jill still has no idea where Charm found the tape or why he decided that it was a suitable snack. Whatever the reason, she is grateful to be insured with VPI.
“Having pet insurance is a necessity. Without VPI, I don’t know how we would have paid for everything,” said Jill. “With all the incidents he’s had, Charm is the epitome of why we have VPI for all of our pets, including our newest member of the family. Our pets are children to us and when they get sick or have an accident, it’s nice to know that VPI is there for us.”
As the most unusual claim submitted submitted in August, Charm will be in the running for the 2015 VPI Hambone Award. Charm’s incident was one of more than 102,000 claims received in the month of August by VPI, and was selected by VPI employees as the most unusual of them all. Honorable mentions in August go to a dog a swallowed the end of a spatula and a pup that battled with a badger. All pets considered for the Hambone nomination have made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.
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The VPI Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to rescue him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia. This quirky title was first awarded in 2009 to Lulu, a hungry English bulldog who swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and a piece of a basketball. The VPI Hambone Award and these unusual pet insurance claims have since helped educate the public about the unexpected mishaps that can affect household pets. Stories and pictures of the VPI Hambone Award nominees are available at VPIHamboneAward.com
With more than 500,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI) is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies and is the first and largest pet health insurance company in the United States. Since 1982, VPI has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers. VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Wellness coverage and routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, one in three Fortune 500 companies offers VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit. Policies are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2012); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2012). Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit petinsurance.com.
P.O. Box 2344
Brea, CA 92822-2344