Thursday, August 25, 2011

Take your pet to the vet week

across the blogosphere, there have been many a post on the importance of taking your pet to the vet.  I don't disagree with any of them, but I wanted to take this post to discuss something a little different.

I spend time in different communities trying to help people who have questions about their cats.  Why is my cat doing this? what does that mean? and the like.  inappropriate elimination is huge in places like this.  second to that are a myriad of other medical issues.  Rarely does a poster ask a medical type question that can avoid seeing a vet like my cat sneezed once should I bring it to the vet (no, but you should keep an eye on it and any other symptoms then yes).  More often then not the cat needed to see the vet yesterday.

The posts that get me the most though are the "aren't vets supposed to care about animals? so why do they gouge me?"

Vets care about animals.  If they didn't they certainly would not have gone through all the training and schooling and shell out all that money (or most likely go into debt) and spend their days elbow deep in urine and poop and anal gland secretions.

Vets have a great deal of overhead.  They have to pay rent or mortgage on their building.  They have to pay for insurance just as you do on your residence.  They have to pay for utilities which are often three to four times what you would pay for your own home because of everything going on.  There are wages and salaries for staff as well as payroll taxes and any insurance and benefits they have to pay to find good help.  All the instruments, medications, supplies, etc.  Food to feed the pets while they are there if they are spending any time there, laundry for any pet that needed a bed or a towel to wipe it down as well as scrubs (did I mention the anal glands?).

All this going out the door and the vet hasn't taken home a dime yet.  Sound glamous doesn't it?  Makes you want to bring a little gift to your vet next time you stop by doesn't it?

I'm not saying all vets are broke.  Heck, I wouldn't even go so far as to say many vets are broke, but for the most part they are not "rolling in it" and they most certainly can not afford to treat every animal that comes in the door sick for free.

Owning a pet is a financial responsibility.  It is not like buying a TV or couch.  It is not a one time investment.  Pet owners should be aware that a living being will need to be seen by a doctor and in most communities to with hold medical care is against the law.  Yes, times are very tight right now for a lot of people and unfortunately pets are paying the price (heck so are a lot of children, but that is for a different blog) "They" say that the annual cost of owning a cat (before medical issues) is $600-$1000 (or even more if you feed premium food, etc) and when a pet gets sick, it really can break the bank.

The Cost of Owning a Cat
The Annual Cost of Pet Ownership

If you are in a good financial place right now and you don't have an emergency fund for your pet, now would be a great time to start.  If you aren't in a good financial place, you could still start.  Even setting a side a dollar at a time will eventually grow into something you can access.    Pets are family for most of us and no one wants to think of rehoming or euthanasia because of money.  The time to think about this is when things are going well and everyone is healthy - and often people don't.  Because emergency clinics usually charge several hundred dollars before you even see a vet.  If you are lucky enough to have your kitty have a medical issue during regular vet hours, it is still going to take several hundred dollars for exams, blood work, xrays, and other diagnostic tests to find out exactly what is going on with your pet and get it what it needs to treat it.

If you are in a financial bind, talk to your vet before you walk in the door.  Tell the receptionist your pet's symptoms and explain you are very short of funds.  Maybe your vet can work with you.  I'm not saying all vets will, but it can't hurt to ask. Maybe they can refer you to local  services.  If not, call your local humane society or shelter. They should know of any local programs that could help you.

If not, search the web.  There are programs out there.  is one. If your pet has a particular condition that needs long term treatment, google looking for groups out there of pet parents who are facing the same thing.  I spent a great deal of time on the message boards when I had Em and when I fostered several diabetic cats.  there is a lot of great information on how to help you manage the condition as inexpensively as possible.  The members of the message board have a great deal of experience dealing with feline diabetes and are very helpful at all hours of the day.  There are other groups for other conditions you just need to find them.

Vets are vital in keeping your kitty happy and healthy and with you as long as possible.  Not all are great vets, but when you find one, they are worth their weight in gold.

Speaking of which, I so totally need to make an appointment for the crew - I just dread bringing them all down - and since he's 45 minutes away it is not easy.  Yes, I drive past at least four other vets to get to him.. I trust him that much.  I think I'll bring him a pie.


  1. I LOVE our vet. Plus, she is mobile, so she comes to the house and no dragging all the cats out in carriers (just catching some and putting them in the bathroom). That being said, when she came over for the blood test rodeo, I bought cookies....a little bribery goes a long way!!!

  2. I think if I had known I'd spend $7000 on vet bills in two years alone, plus an additional $1000 give or take in taxi fees, I'd not have adopted, because I simply couldn't take it on, financially.

    I don't have a problem with vets charging to make a living--it's a business. They need to make a profit. I have a problem with 300% markups on pet medications that you can get for FAR less if your vet will give you a prescription (if it's a human drug in a pet-appropriate dose).

    I have a problem with jacking your dental fees up just in time for pet dental month (February). In November 2009 it cost me just over $500 to have Nicki's 8 extractions done. In February 2010, with the 10% dental discount, it cost me over $800 to have Annie's *3* extractions done. In June 2010, it cost me a total of $1255 to have Derry's 9 extractions done (including blood work, UA).

    That doesn't impress me.

  3. Well said.

    And a healthy indoor kitty now lives 15+ years. I've had many friends with 18-yr-old cats so it's also a long-term financial commitment. And you never know if the animal you adopt will never have a day's illness or will be the one who has all kind of problems. (Boy do I have a couple of those stories!)

  4. Amen to this. I have a cat with congenital heart problems, so I KNOW from vet bills. And I don't begrudge one single penny. Her vet, and her specialists, are doing their damnedest to keep her going.

    It kills me when people complain about the cost of adopting a kitten from the local shelter. It's eighty bucks. That eighty bucks is a drop in the bucket, peeps. A tiny drop in a big ol' bucket.

    If you are going to bitch about the cost of owning a pet, just don't get a pet. It's that simple.

    (Sorry. I'll stop ranting now.)


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