That must have been gold plated! Everyone must have heard this common idiom at least once. Something that should be fairly inexpensive or at least of reasonable cost turned out not to be. I had a gold plated cat named Gadget.
Finding myself living alone, I transformed from a God in my dog’s point of view to worshiper. I got my first cat, a unique looking blue tortoise shell female kitten, I later named Gizmo from the local animal shelter. I reasoned my current lifestyle was more conducive to the more independent lifestyle of the cat and my coming and going would not be dependent on the dog’s need of the requisite dog walking. Not wanting Gizmo be lonely, I quickly adopted a companion; Gadget, a small green eyed black male kitten.
Gadget was a shy cat, who quickly overcame his shyness and became my constant lap mate. He was a small muscular athletic guy who delighted in snatching a fly six feet in the air with the grace of an acrobat and ate his catch with the true appetite of a carnivore. I’m not sure if he knew if he was a cat. He always came running when I called his name, delighted in playing a game of fetch, and his favorite place was in my lap accompanied by his mellow purr. His purr was almost constant: he purred during his first vet exam. “He’s a mellow happy guy” my vet commented. Gadget wasn’t perfect: he avoided a dirty litter box and made his displeasure known by urinating in the middle of my bed.
One afternoon I noticed Gadget was a little more vocal than usual and when I picked him up he screamed in pain. I realized this was an emergency and after getting a referral from a friend to took him to the vet. Gadget developed a blockage in his urinary tract. The vet told me this was fairly common in male cats because of their anatomy; but, it was a serious condition that needed further treatment to monitor the bladder catherization just performed. She referred me to a local animal emergency hospital that would be able to give him the 24 hour care needed. The vet bill was $250.00.
Not wanting to lose my companion, I took Gadget, the IV bag of Ringer’s solution, and the vet’s report to the closest animal emergency hospital. The only thing that could be done at this point was to monitor his condition for a couple of days to see how he responded to the initial treatment. May we have your credit card please to pay for these services? The rate was $150/day for 24 hour care. I really didn’t care about the cost, I wanted Gadget back home and well.
After a course of antibiotics and a CAT scan, Gadget wasn’t getting better but he was holding his own for now. But, the cause of his obvious distress was elusive. Two days later he was losing ground and as a last resort to diagnose the problem an abdominal ultrasound was suggested.
Unfortunately, Gadget was in too much pain for an ultrasound; it was started but not finished. His bladder must have been punctured during the procedure to drain his bladder and was now leaking into his abdomen causing the systemic infection. I now faced the hard realization there was no hope of saving my beloved Gadget.
I took that long last trip, held him in my arms and whispered my last farewell. Why is he loosing so much hair? My hands were coated in black fur as I stroked him that last time. “The distressed cat will lose their coat. You are making the right decision.” She said as if to make me feel better. “The first shot will put him to sleep and the second will stop his heart. The end will be peaceful for him.” I stroked him; hoping against all hope these last shots would not work and my fearless kitty would still recover. Everything would be as it was: I only wanted my Gadget back. Sadly, I drove home alone that day.
After a week of treatment, at the emergency animal hospital my bill was over $2,500. My free cat became the gold plated cat. What did I learn?
• Develop a good working relationship with a vet.
• Watch for symptoms or unusual behaviors in your pet: seek treatment before they become an emergency.
• Problems may be specific to or more frequent for specific breeds or sex; be aware of and watch for them.
• In an emergency know where to go. Your vet may have a recommendation but do your research before an emergency occurs. Prices vary considerably for these services: in general, a smaller hospital may charge less than the larger chain hospitals.
• Finally, investigate pet health insurance. It is readily available, in both the United States and Canada, from a number of different companies with a broad range of coverage and premiums.