US government versus... kitty.

Out of the Bag

A four-hour outage in a Kansas City, Missouri Veterans Affairs Medical Center's (VAMC) computer system may or may not have been caused by a cat-on-keyboard situation, The Register reports.

Per the report, the system malfunction in question took place in mid-September. Shortly after that, as the Register's source claims, it was explained on a "regular weekday call" held by the US government's Department of Veterans Affairs and its CIO that the outage occurred while a "technician was reviewing the configuration of a server cluster." A cat, the source said, hopped on the technician's keyboard, accidentally deleting the server — and the government-held medical records that it contained.

It's not quite "the dog ate my homework," but it's certainly in the same pet shop. Speaking of, Kurt DelBene, assistant secretary for information and technology and CIO at the VA department, responded to the incident report during the call by saying something along the lines of "this is why I have a dog," according to the Register's source.

Paw Patrol

The US government department confirmed that the outage took place, though abstained from commenting on whether a feline friend was indeed the culprit.

"On September 13, 2023, the Kansas City VAMC experienced an issue with image transfer within Vista due to an inadvertent deletion of server profiles," VA press secretary Terrence Hayes told the Register over email. "The issue was quickly identified and the system restored within four hours."

"There have been no further issues," Hayes added, "or direct impacts to veterans from this incident." However, when specifically pressed on the cat's involvement, the spokesperson declined to answer.

Hayes' reluctance to confirm or deny certainly feels like it speaks volumes, and this wouldn't be the first time that a kitty's love for tromping across a computer keyboard caused some IT grief; as the Register notes, dozens of online message boards feature aggrieved netizens asking how they might restore various cat-deleted documents and digital libraries.

However common, though, it's just not something we generally expect to happen in a situation involving government-retained patient medical records. Consider this a friendly reminder that even the most unexpected of digital systems can be victim to deeply absurd and mundane mishaps — and the next time any of the VA's cat-owning technicians are tasked with moving said patient records around, we might recommend that they momentarily lock themselves in a cat-free room.

More on cats: Scientists Discover That Cats Simply Do Not Give a Crap

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