Thursday, December 31, 2009

Frugality and Pet Ownership Don't Always March Hand in Hand

My baby cat Izzy is sick. She's been wasting away for a little while and today the vet discovered that she has Fatty Liver Disease. Our visit for blood tests and x-rays was $350.
To help reverse her disease it will mean several hundred more dollars, placement of a feeding tube, and weeks of home care.

We have an appointment on Monday and I'm not sure if it's for euthanasia or for getting a feeding tube. I feel ill equipped to deal with this.
On one hand- I love my cat and want to keep her healthy and alive.
On the other hand- She's thirteen years old and this will be her second expensive surgery.


Anonymous said...

My cat was diagnosed in 2007 w/ an unknown type of epithelial cancer, so I knew that even if she were to survive chemo, go into remission, etc., it wasn't forever. I finally knew what would (likely) take my baby girl's life. She was 16. She was VERY healthy literally up until the last few months when she started losing weight (she was already a small cat, and this was literally her only symptom, weight loss). I did go ahead w/ 1 round of chemo. I figured if it didn't work, then it wouldn't be 2 rounds, and I would be able to rest assured that I had done all I could for her.
Anyway, she actually did OK w/ the chemo. Our veterinary oncologist told us that cats (and dogs) actually do MUCH better than humans w/ tolerating chemo. By that I mean no nausea, or other terrible effects that humans many times do have. So we were sure that her continued vomiting was not related to the chemo. She had been doing that for months, on and off. But in the end, it was her lack of getting and holding down nourishment that made her so weak that I knew it was time to say goodbye to my sweetheart. So-- when assisted feeding wasn't very successful, I elected to get a less-invasive e-tube inserted. Yes, there was always the possibility that she wouldn't survive the surgery. It would only be 10-15 minutes. But w/ anesthesia, of course, there is always risk, especially given her state of health. I was able to give her food and water through the e-tube for the last few days she was with me, and it was much less traumatic than trying to get it down her throat. Of course there were other risks, as well, but at that point, getting food into her was the only way to keep her around long enough to see if the chemo could work.
All this to say-- perhaps you could ask your vet if s/he would consider an e-(esophageal) tube.
You and your baby are in my prayers during this difficult time. I know what it's like to have a sick senior kitty.

Robbin said...

I am so sorry to hear about your cat. Being a dog "parent" myself, I can only imagine what you are going through. I don't know what decision to make, but I just want you to know that you and your family (including your beloved cat) will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Amy said...

I've had a very expensive December for vet bills myself (several thousand dollars!). I realized that one of the reasons I have a big emergency fund is for this type of thing, and I'd much rather spend on my dog and rabbit to get well than on car payments and mortgages that I was able to get rid of earlier this year. They are part of my family and rank higher than eating out, holiday gifts, and vacations--places where I tend to spend money when I have extra. Also, while their illnesses are expensive, they will have excellent quality of life if I can do the home care and make the vet visits happen. For me, it's worth it. It might have been different if they had a poor prognosis or were extremely old, but they're not and I've made peace with the bills. (I can't always tell others what I've spent, though, since they think I'm crazy! I'm used to that, though.)

Good luck. You might find some (cheap) ideas online too--my dog was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure, and the online communities of other pet owners with dogs like this has enabled me to ask my vet(s) for the right care and understand what is happening; being proactive gives her the best outcome and can save me money as well.