In yet another edition of Pets Are Expensive…
I noticed on Sunday that Josie was vocalizing when she used the bathroom. I thought it was a little strange, but it wasn’t until Tuesday when the vocalizations turned a bit more into a whine that I got concerned. The last time this happened was with Patches, and it turned out to be a urinary tract infection.
I called around and found a Banfield hospital that could see her. In fact, they let me drop her off so I didn’t have to wait around. (I do love my Banfield plan.) This also gave them time to get a urine sample.
They called maybe 15 minutes after I got back home. She had given a very, very small sample already and they found crystals in her urine. That could mean a number of things, including bladder stones.
Look inside yourself (or the cat)
They wanted to know if I wanted to do an x-ray to the tune of $201. I asked what would happen if they found stones, thinking if she’d just pass them I was going to skip the x-rays.
Nope. She’d be put on a special diet to try to dissolve the things and if that didn’t work, we’d have to look into surgical options. Eep!
So I gave the go-ahead for the x-rays and hoped fervently that my new rewards card would show up in that day’s mail so I could put what was sure to be a big charge on it. (Spoiler: It didn’t. Sigh.)
They didn’t find any bladder stones, though apparently some don’t show up on x-rays (how helpful). Later, the doctor said that the type of crystals they saw in the slides didn’t indicate bladder stones. I was understandably annoyed that they’d gone ahead with the x-rays without checking the type of crystals first.
I’d have argued that the x-rays shouldn’t have been run and I shouldn’t be charged, but they did find something else: a narrowing of the colon. Apparently, this could be temporary. But it could also be permanent, which would cause issues long-term.
At any rate, the upshot is that the vet thinks the bathroom distress was actually from being constipated rather than having a UTI. I’m supposed to administer this gel — which is generally meant for hairballs but will lubricate the GI tract and, therefore, the colon — once a day for a couple of weeks to see if this resolves the issue.
If the issue persists then there’s a permanent narrowing of the colon and further steps may have to be taken.
Nothing serious, as far as I could tell. They mentioned that I might have to put her on wet food instead of dry. Which is, of course, more expensive and worse for her teeth. So I’m not thrilled by that scenario.
The gel smells and tastes like maple, and I have to give her “a pinky’s worth.” So now my hand smells like maple even after several washings.
The first day I managed to get some in her mouth and she even seemed to like the taste. The second day, I couldn’t get her mouth open wide enough to stick my finger inside. So I smeared it on her paw, and she licked it off. I think this is my new plan of attack.
It could have been worse
In the grand scheme of things, $212 (luckily the medication was cheap) isn’t that much for a vet visit I suppose.
The worst one I’ve ever had was around $800, when they had to run a bunch of tests on Sandy and finally diagnosed her with fluid around her heart. Nothing like an $800 bill in addition to being told your cat’s going to die soon.
And of course, a friend just paid out $7,000 for doggy surgery. (Well, $3,500 because she split it with her boyfriend.)
So yeah, it could’ve been much worse. But $200 still blows up my planned spending.
All in all, this incident is a good reminder that I should probably start setting aside a little money each month into a Pet Fund account since I don’t have proper pet insurance.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy with the Banfield plan. I’d pay only $30 less if I went to a regular vet for her vaccinations and yearly teeth cleaning, and this way I get office visits and certain tests (like, oh say, urinalysis) for free. But not having insurance does mean that things like x-rays are entirely my financial responsibility.
So far, I’ve been lucky that Josie has been healthy. But that could change at any point.
I’ve considered pet insurance, but I don’t trust myself to deal with the hassle of filling out forms to get reimbursed. I think I’d just put it off until it was too late to file a claim. Not to mention that there are still apparently deductibles to contend with.
Instead, I think that saving for a pet fund, the way a lot of people do (including Chrissy at Eat, Sleep, Breathe FI) would be the smart way to go. I’ll start putting $50 aside every month so I’m ready for the next set of x-rays.
Had any pet health scares recently? Do you have pet insurance?