October 29, 2007

Here Kitty Kitty

I have two cats. They are relatively young - old enough not to scratch things (much), young enough not to require replacement hips or dentures. But after watching my sister's cats last pretty much forever (one went at 22 years old, the other is 20 and truckin' along), I know the future can be hellish on pet owners.

I have a vet I like, but I don't plan on regularly visiting him. If one of the girls (Maggie or JoJo) look a little off kilter, I take them in praying for nothing exotic. They're indoor cats and live a life I aspire to. I would like to be a cat.

This article in Slate is a hoot. It's that whole vet-guilt thing. You know the one - where they make you feel like the worst person in the world if you have the audacity to inquire about tiny details regarding the care of your pet - like how much it's gonna cost to give ChiChi an MRI, or put Fluffy on anti-depressants because, well, who knows why. Fluffy can't talk.

Which is the whole problem. My kids can hold their bellies and moan. I can feel their forehead and know 'fever' without a hundred dollar visit for someone else to find the number. Let's be real: for my kids, I'll mortgage my house or rob a bank to keep them healthy. For a cat, by the time we're creeping into car payment territory, my eyebrows are raised and staying that way. A vet once asked me if JoJo was lethargic. I asked how I'd know the difference. She only gets up to find a new place to sleep.

You can be at 2 grand in vet bills without even knowing if they're going to get well. I can't stand when vets stand over a 30 year old cat and ask if you'd like to consider surgery. I remember when my sister's cat was about 15, she had one tooth left in her pretty little head. Roz came home from the vet frustrated about some over-the-top treatment plan. I asked her if it was braces.

I love my kitties fiercely. But this crazy over-vetting is preying on people in a most obscene way. Nobody wants to lose a loved part of the family, but when I signed up to have a cat, I signed up to lose one. I need to handle both ends of that equation clearly, and help the kids with it when the time comes.

My mom was raised with dogs, and was told when they died that they'd gone to live in the country. She believed that for ages. We gave hamsters and fish buried all over the yard. My sister had a little white mouse that a neighbourhood cat got hold of. My folks told her it ran away, and she was cool with that. Well, until she reads this she was cool with that.

I want a new Yellow Pages listing: Guilt Free Veterinary Services.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been there done that... that is, subscribed to both schools of thought. More so when we used to live in the city.

Now were rural folk and have 5 cars and one dog - all purebreds.

Rural vets have a (generally) slightly different approach to things. No, they are not cold-hearted when it comes to "Fluffy" -- perhaps a little more realistic than most.

Having said that, all our critters have pet insurance; our cats it's less than $ 10.00 each per month so no real biggie. Our dog, a Bernese Mountain Bear, costs us about the same per month as our five Maine Coon beasties.

Our animals are our kids; we chose to have them, like most people choose to have kids. We do not have kids. Ben, Merlin, Rocky, Elvis, Xena and Zack are our kids -- to us, anyway.

We are, however, realistic when it comes to their health. When it came to heroic measures for our last Bernese Mountain Dog, Ozzie, we declined to play the game. We looked at HIS quality of life and made a very hard, for us, decision.

While we love our animals, we're not complete raving eejits.

One of my brother's in law has this philosophy when it comes to family pets. Each comes into the home with a $ 100 bill in their mouth; when that's gone...

October 29, 2007 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After our friend spent countless $ on diabetes treatment for an aging German Shepherd, eventually getting her a seeing eye dog (I kid you not!), and my sister spent thousands on back surgery, rehab and eventually, a wheelchair for her Daschund (again, I kid you not!)we felt that the $17/mo for our Lab/Heeler was a wise investment


October 29, 2007 7:35 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

And I though seeing eyes dogs for dogs was just a Far Side cartoon...

October 30, 2007 8:32 AM  

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