Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Catblogging - Indignity

Sometimes if I have a funny cat picture, I share it on Fridays in solidarity with fermi's Friday Catblogging events. But I won't commit.

Last Friday, Deano noticed that Nellie's tail had a mysterious wound on it that looked bad. It was about the size of a dime, and was matted with fur. Despite the fact that I am nearly thirty, I did what I always do when I am unsure of how to proceed. I called my mom. Of course, I was expecting Mom to tell me to keep an eye on it and if it gets much worse think about taking her in. Instead my mom said, "I think you need to take her in." Because I didn't know where this wound came from, and because Nellie is eight years old and overweight, my mom was concerned about feline diabetes. In people, an early warning sign of diabetes can be sudden abscesses, wounds incurred by loss of feeling in the extremities (e.g. the tail, my initial thought was Nellie accidently burned herself sleeping too close to the radiator), and wounds that are slow-healing or not healing at all. Of course I panicked. But I decided to keep a close eye on her over the weekend and avoid taking her to an emergency vet unless things looked really bad.

Luckily, one of my first days in Providence I met another cat lady who has four cats and two are special needs so I asked her to recommend a regular vet and an after hours/emergency vet. She recommended a cat only clinic downtown that she warned "wasn't cheap." Despite the warning, I went with them anyway. For six years I went to a low-cost vet for routine procedures, but three different vets at that clinic had mis-diagnosed Allison's eye goop for herpes virus. Only the fourth got it right (blocked tear duct from infection as a kitten on the streets). For McLovin's amputation I went to a cat only clinic and despite the cost, he received exceptional care, and I enjoyed fantastic customer service.

I kept an eye on Nellie over the weekend and made an appointment for Tuesday since Monday was going to be awful at work. The vet there was outstanding. She was very friendly and not at all judgmental about Nellie's weight (I've also experienced the occasional chewing-out for not keeping her slimmer), but admitted she was "on the chubby side", which was always a challenge in a multiple-cat home. She said she thought the wound looked like an infected bite and that a diabetes screening wasn't a bad idea at all, especially since Nellie has never had any blood work done. Then her and the vet tech took Nellie into the other room to get her "all fixed up". When they brought her back to me, her tail was shaved and she had been fitted with a cone!!! The vet said that after getting a closer look at the wound, it definitely looked like a bite and that she'd call me in the morning with the diabetes results. In the meantime, she was put on a course of antibiotics. Poor thing - it wasn't even her fault and she has to suffer this indignity. Someone is in trouble, but it's tough to say who it was.

When the bill came I was in utter sticker shock. First, I thought they would simply do a blood glucose test like Patti LaBelle does. Instead, they did a full work up. But based on the pre-surgery blood work they did in Tampa for McLovin, the bill was still twice as much as I was anticipating. And I thought I was estimating liberally. Dean had a shitfit over the phone when I got Nellie home. But said it was worth it when he saw our poor girl with a lampshade and a shaved tail. And given the light tone of this post, you probably deduced that there were no signs of diabetes. ALL her blood work looked great.

Last night, I was snuggling our wounded one, scratching all her spots since she can't do it herself while she purred wildly, I remarked with mock bitterness that Nellie's blood work would just have to be my Christmas present this year. Immediately, Deano shot back, "watching her wear that damn cone is mine."

7 comments:

Jeni said...

The cost of vet care for our pets is one that does make way too many cringe and opt to not seek treatment all too often. But the same applies to people too -those with no insurance -who go without often very needed medical care because they simply can not afford the fees. All too often then, in either instance, it becomes something untreatable, that has spread then to other regions.
What a shame that we can't have reasonably priced medical care for all in this country -humans and animals alike.
Poor Nellie though having to wear that cone but at least she'll heal properly and now, you know she doesn't have diabetes either!
Merry Christmas to you and Deano -and maybe Santa will find a way to get you one other present for Christmas too.

Anonymous said...

Natalie:
The same thing happened to my cousin when she took her cat in to the vet. She thought it would be simple routine bloodwork and when she got the bill... she was shocked at the cost. It is really too bad that medical care for pets has to be so expensive. It makes people think twice about taking in another pet and so many need good homes. Too bad you can't bill the biter...
Hope you both have a wonderful Christmas together in your new home.
Catsfursure

dr sardonicus said...

Nellie sure doesn't seem to think it's funny...

mom said...

you are paying for your vet to call nellie "a little on the chubby side" just as i pay my vet to call scout "sensitive" instead of neurotic. we call our vet "dr. kathleen", just so that everybody feels nice and comfy. in this often cruel and hectic world, it's worth it.

kalajian said...

Poor Nellie Bean!! Any idea if she kicked McLovin' out of the food one too many times? :)

Dianne said...

my feeling is that everything in the NE is more expensive than anywhere else in the nation

look into pet insurance - I didn't have it for JR and his last year of chronic care killed me

I have it for Siren and hope to get it for Mia once I pay my own insurance lol

VPI is a good company and there are breaks for multi-cats

I'm so happy Nellie is OK.

Hugs to all

magnetbabe said...

jeni,
Yes, I always feel so bad for those that can't afford healthcare for themselves let alone their pets. I knew going in to it that this vet wasn't going to be cheap, but I didn't want Nellie misdiagnosed or dismissed. It's a double-edged sword. I didn't even think to check how much the blood work would be, I just said do it. Luckily we have no kids and aren't living paycheck to paycheck, so it didn't break us. I can imagine if our situation would have been tighter it could have been a lot worse.

catsfursure,
I always think about our tripod kitty and how at first the doctor said his leg didn't need to be amputated. What if we hadn't kept him and someone adopted him only to find out they didn't to pay for him to have a major surgery? It makes me shudder at the thought that someone less fortunate could have opened their heart to McLovin only to be slammed with enormous vet bills. Again, thank goodness we can afford them at this stage in our lives. Dean has been joking that if McLovin is the biter, he is by far our most expensive kitty and owes us quite a bit of money!

dr s,
No, and she doesn't think it's funny when the youngsters pick on her. Besides being overweight and slow, she's getting a little crotchety too!

mom,
I could have kissed the vet for not laying in to me about Nellie. No matter where we end up taking the other kitties (money permitting), I'll be shelling out the big bucks again if I have to take Nellie in again.

Hey Kalajian!
McLovin is the one kicking Nellie out the way lately as he is getting so big! I can see it being either of the boys. Not perfect Allie Princess though. She never misbehaves like those naughty boys do.

di,
I haven't quite experienced the high prices associated with NE yet. Rent is way cheaper than Florida, but groceries seem a little more expensive. I'll ask Deano, I tend to be oblivious about money which is what gets me into trouble sometime. ;)

I'll look into insurance, I thought about it after we got McLovin and then spaced it out. This jolted it back to the forefront!