In a humorous and somewhat unexpected incident in Kansas City, Missouri, a cat managed to cause a four-hour computer system interruption at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The trouble began when a technician was working on a cluster of computers, and his mischievous feline friend decided to join the action by leaping onto the keyboard. This unplanned intervention led to difficulties in transferring images within the hospital’s electronic filing system.
This incident took place on September 13, 2023, and came to light through a source who shared the story during a routine conference call organized by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to discuss recent IT issues. These conference calls typically involve about 100 participants, including contractors, vendors, and VA employees.
During the call, an individual admitted that their cat had caused the computer chaos by accidentally deleting crucial files while frolicking on the keyboard. The VA’s tech head, Kurt DelBene, lightened the mood with a playful remark, saying, “This is why I have a dog,” before the conversation moved on to other matters, leaving the cat-related mishap behind.
Interestingly, this cat-induced computer hiccup is not an isolated incident. Numerous online stories detail cats causing typos, erasing files, or even shutting down computers by playfully pawing at keys.
When The Register, a tech news site, contacted the VA to verify the story and gather more information, the VA’s press secretary, Terrence Hayes, confirmed that there was indeed a problem with sending images within the VA’s healthcare system. He reassured that the issue was promptly resolved within four hours and did not negatively impact veterans.
However, Mr. Hayes chose not to mention the cat’s involvement in the computer mishap and declined to comment when pressed on the matter.
Interestingly, just about a month before the cat-induced computer glitch at the VA hospital, several other hospitals and clinics in the US faced a more serious issue—a cyberattack that wreaked havoc on their computer systems and disrupted emergency services. Some facilities had to temporarily close their emergency rooms and redirect patients elsewhere.
This cyberattack specifically targeted Prospect Medical Holdings, a California-based company managing medical facilities in five states: California, Texas, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania. In response, the company temporarily took its computer systems offline to secure them and enlisted the help of third-party cybersecurity experts to investigate the incident. They also pledged to address the urgent needs of their patients and swiftly return to normal operations.
At the end, a playful cat’s antics caused a brief computer system interruption at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center, serving as a lighthearted moment amid the challenges of IT management. While the cat’s role added a touch of humor to the story, it highlighted the importance of cybersecurity in an era where even accidental actions can have significant consequences.