Saturday, November 6, 2010

The $10K cat

So, I was talking about Harrison, our cat, with one of my friends and I think shocked her by referring to him as our $10K rescue cat. That is a freaking large amount of money to spend on a cat, but yet, over ten years, that's my estimate of what he's cost us. I said that to Rich once and he scoffed there was no way, but once we totaled it up....well, maybe we haven't hit $10K, but we're closing in on it.

Harrison was adopted from the Siamese Cat Rescue Center. My beloved cat Andre died in December 2000, so once we moved into this house in 2001 it was time. He came to us at a year old, a little beat up from a rough life on the streets. In fact, one of his rear legs had been broken somehow, and obviously not set as he still walks with a bit of limp, though once he really settled in it became barely noticeable. One of his ears is a bit ragged, so he definitely got into it a time or two during his time in the wild.

In 2004, when my family as visiting for my sister's college graduation, Harrison developed a urinary blockage, something that is not unusual in male cats. There was a stay in the animal hospital, surgery, and follow up care, including a special diet ($$) to reduce the chance of recurrence. Harrison specializes in crises during busy times. I'm not going to get these dates right because it was all too crazy, but in the weeks after Elizabeth was born, he developed what we could only call severe lethargy, so another emergency room visit determined he had developed some sort of heart problem. We were supposed to take him to a cardiologist, but couldn't ever get there in those first few weeks and by the time we had the time, he seemed to have recovered from whatever it was (we did take him for followups at the regular vet), though he does have a heart mumur.

And I can't remember when this happened, or what event he disrupted, but the biggest ticket item was the intestinal blockage, which resulted in another long hospital stay, surgery, and extended follow up care. Oh, and a DIFFERENT special diet. Nothing has been related to anything else, it's just been a series of unrelated, unlucky events. And, each thing has been something that was easily, if expensively, fixable.

Harrison and Aggie had a complicated relationship - well, not that complicated if you simply consider that Harrison moved in and on day 1 decided it was his mission in life to terrorize our dog. But I think he had a certain fondness for Aggie. So with Aggie gone, Harrison has been lonely, and more importantly, bored. He's been an exclusive indoor cat since he came to live with us, but this summer, at the height of his boredom, I started allowing him to go outside in our fenced back area. He quickly discovered how to escape, though he mostly spent time sunning himself in our yard. I'd let him out for an hour or so in the afternoons. Given our financial investment in this cat, I should have put a stop to it, but he was so happy just hanging around outside (and that's all he mostly did) I let it continue, even when I knew he was in standoffs with a stray in the alley. It wasn't every day, and never for long, but still, he shouldn't have been going out unsupervised. It didn't help that he's learned how to open our back screen door. If it's not latched properly, he can push it open, but even when it is latched, somehow he works at the door until he jiggles it enough the latch slips.

So, two weeks ago - Harrison worked on the door while we were eating dinner and made it out. A huge no no, but he was gone before we could grab him. We expected him to just come back fairly quickly, as usual, but at 11 Rich was outside calling and calling for him. Finally, at 11:30, just as we were going to bed, I looked out the back door and there he was. But, when he came in, he was dripping blood from a wound on his neck - he had gotten into it with something. So, we got him cleaned up and put antiseptic on all his wounds. He slept most of the next day - after all he had just gotten beat up - but seemed to recover. He's been on lockdown since.

Friday night, we noticed a tuft of fur coming off his head, and realized he had a scratch there we hadn't treated, but the tuft of hair coming off generally means the scab is healing so I didn't think too much of it. Then, Saturday morning, he started cleaning, cleaning, cleaning his head. Which, again, I did'nt think too much of, until we took a good look at it and realized he had a giant oozing wound on the top of his head.

Great. Rich's parents were on their way down to celebrate Rich's 40th b-day, and the cat had a giant absess on his head. So, loaded him in the carrier and made my way to the vet for a couple of hours in the waiting room.

$225 later, it was cleaned out, he had a half-shaved head, and we had antibiotics. We'll just add it to the total. He was not happy about the vet, but they managed to clean him up even with the deep belly yowling that was going on. And now we have ten days of pills to get through.

Oh, and I'm forgetting to write about his hernia. When he had the intestinal blockage, at the follow up visit the vet who did the surgery (not at our usual vet) said, oh, I think I sewed all his fat into one area, he's got a little fat pouch. We thought that was odd, but everything seemed to heal ok, except for this bulge in his belly. It was another vet at our usual practice who said, um, he has a hernia. So I had to epxlain that to this vet, who really strongly suggested we spend another couple of grand to get that hernia fixed. Another $2-3K. For a hernia operation. Well, if we haven't hit $10K yet, we certainly will before too long.

Moral of the story - pet insurance for our next pet


V said...

Yes, that's an important lesson!! I love my cats but I don't know how we'd find that money if we needed to.

Rachel et Natalie said...

yes animals do indeed cost but I prefer not to look at the financial side. The love they give us back is enormeous and is priceless.
Mind you for the next animal, I will make sure to pay closer attention to the things it really needs. Had I done that, I would have saved visits to the vet and a surgery which turned out not necessary.