"You Gotta Know When to Hold 'Em...."

"Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away, know when to run....."--Kenny, as in Rogers!

I ran into the husband of one of my good friends the other day while I was parked in their driveway. (Odd that we'd run into each other like that, eh?) We had an interesting conversation about where a pet owner draws the line on paying for any more health care for a sick or injured pet. He said each of his dogs has a $1000 life cap. Anything after that and the dog is toast. Now, some people reading this are probably gritting their teeth in horror that a person would allow an animal to die instead of spending just another couple hundred dollars. But, now that I have a sick animal to keep alive (so that my children aren't traumatized), I totally get it. (Although $1000 seems a bit high for a stinky cat.....I was thinking maybe we'd cap at, let's say $0 to be generous, and see how that goes.....)

The original title for this post was "That Blasted Cat!" if that tells you anything. You see, Leroy, oh yes, Leroy, remember him? The cat that gave me a two-week anxiety attack? Well, he is very ill. (I want to say "serves him right" but I am trying to be compassionate here.....) Anyway, Leroy is sick. He stopped eating over the weekend and became very lethargic. So on Monday, Kurt mentioned we might need to take Leroy to the vet. I nodded and mumbled some sort of agreement with full intention of taking him the next day. But by that night, Kurt broke down and started looking stuff up on the internet which is the equivalent of drinking and dialing for all things medical as far as I can tell. When I got back from teaching lessons, he told me he thought we needed to take Leroy to the vet "right now"; and by "we" he meant me. I warned of overly priced after-hours emergency vet expenses and when that didn't weaken his resolve to be a responsible pet owner, I explained to him how to heat up the baby's bottle while I packed Leroy up in his travel case and off we went. Just me and the cat.....it was almost like a vacation. But not really.

I arrived at the Emergency Pet Hospital and they asked me why I was there. I answered with some remark about not having anything better to spend our monthly's discretionary budget on (to chuckles from the front desk,), and sat down, waiting to be seen while they took Leroy into the back where they confirmed, "Yes, he is sick, how would you like to pay for that?" Apparently they don't except sick cats as payment.

Seriously though, the vet was very thorough in his assessment of Leroy's "fever of unknown cause" and gave me all sorts of pricey options to choose from. I asked what the minimum was we should do (subcutaneous fluids and antibiotics) and he warned me not to give the cat Tylenol because it would kill him (the cat, not the vet). I paused as I tried to figure out if there was a "wink wink" in that bit of knowledge and then hauled Leroy back home, $200 more broke than before.

At some point I asked Kurt exactly how much he was willing to spend to save this cat's life and was told to take it as it comes and we'd see. (But to call and confirm with him before doing anything.)

The next day, Leroy was still not eating, not going to the bathroom and basically not moving. Actually, come to think about it, he was probably mostly dead for all intents and purposes. So, in we went, Leroy, Solomon, Liam, Madeline and I, to our normal vet's office.  Because our cat had a fever and was acting mostly dead. And Kurt cared. And sure enough, they confirmed he was still sick with "a fever of unknown cause." They, too, gave me a detailed list of options and not knowing any better and since I couldn't get a hold of Kurt, I told them to go ahead with the blood and urine work up. Why not? I spent all our extra money last night, what's a little more? Maybe we can get a home equity line of credit or something....

They took Leroy into the back while the kids and I sat in the waiting area. We heard Leroy screaming and moaning and howling and Madeline, in her sweetest voice asked: "Mommy, is Leroy going to die?"

"I don't know, Madeline," I answered her honestly, trying to mimic her concern. "He might."

"Well, that's okay," she replied, giddily. "We can just get a pet fish."

WHAT! A FISH? Are you flipping kidding me? Hey, hold the phone Vet! I'd like to change my order...I'm pretty certain putting the blasted cat out of our misery is FAR less expensive than whatever you are doing and the kid wants a FRICKING FISH! A fish....people have lost it for far less....

Several hundred more dollars later we were told Leroy had orange, crystalized pee, which pointed at a UTI/Bladder infection that probably was already progressing into his kidneys by the way he was acting. We were given a vial of pills to give him and sent on our way while they went back to grow some cultures.

"Oh, and come back tomorrow so we can recheck his temperature," they said, probably laughing as the door hit our rears on the way out.  Well, that is certainly one thing that is not going to happen, I thought, in complete sticker shock. We just spent ALL our month's money. On a cat. In the words of a favorite comedian: "That is not good. That is bad." And at this point, if the cat gets home, curls up in his box AND DIES I will immediately take him to the local taxidermy and have him flash frozen (because, you know, more nutrients are retained that way, so they say.....about vegetables.....) and upon having money again, I will have him stuffed so that our house guests can delight in a sweet stuffed putty-putty curled up on the end of the bed. At least then I will have something to show for this spending spree.

So, later that night.....Ok, let me just stop and ask, have you ever given a cat a pill? If you are already laughing, then you know what I am talking about. If not, click here for a realistic account.

"Just make sure you get it to the back of the cat's throat," they said. "Just open the cat's mouth, drop the pill in, hold their mouth shut while stroking their necks to get them to swallow," they said....and then watch as that cat laughs that pill right back out at you, sticking their tongue out in gross mockery of your feeble attempt. Yeah, give a cat a pill. Pfffff. "But it's only once a day," they said, implying that that would be much better than the twice a day syringe full of drops. After a few good tries (Kurt holding that cat down, forcing open his alligator-like jaws and I trying to stuff a pill down his throat only to find that same pill on the floor over and over again), Leroy is still getting the drops and if I can sneak the pill into some sort of liquid (poison perhaps?), I'll double dose him and see how that goes. Otherwise, Tylenol it is!

(I'm mostly kidding about the Tylenol, of course. I'm sure the poison would do it...) Then, today, when the vet called and asked if I was bringing Leroy back in to recheck his temp, I explained we had maxed out on his health care allowance. Hit his cap. We have no more money for this fur ball. Mainly because we have no more money.

"Well, would you mind taking his temp and letting us know what it is?" they asked. Oh, gee, I can't think of anything I would rather do than stick a thermometer up a cat's rear end, outside of maybe licking the toilet bowl clean. Alas, Leroy's temperature was surprisingly easy to take with two little girls holding him down, and it effectively convinced Madeline that her fish idea was a mighty good one.

Wouldn't you know it? I suppose I have to put a hold on the Tylenol trick and refrain from folding up Leroy's bed because right as I was on the verge of walking away (or was I gonna run?) Leroy got his mojo back. And though I'm guilty of countin' the money while sitting at the table, there ain't nothin' left to count now that the dealin's done.....except for one: one stinkin' (albeit healthy) cat.


  1. Hi, Karen. It amazes me you constantly find the humor in life. :-)

    I've got to tell you, though. You should get your money back from the ER Vet. I've never in my life known of a cat w/ those symptoms who didn't have a UTI. It's one of the most common cat ailments, easily treated w/ antibiotics, and should have been their very first guess w/o even looking at him!

    I'm not sure from your post how you truly feel about Leroy, but as a cat lover, I'm glad he's feeling better.

    But, seriously, get your money back. The ER Vets were idiots.


  2. Actually, I just spoke to the vet and the urine cultures came back negative and so it wasn't a UTI after all. Both vets offices initially thought maybe pancreatitis given the fever. My understanding is cats don't get high fevers very often (his was over 105) and that fever is usually something more serious than just the average UTI so who knows. Whatever it was it is responding very well to the meds so I suppose it doesn't matter in the end. Unless of course you are Leroy who is currently being wrestled by two overly excited girls....

    And how I feel about Leroy remains to be seen! ;)

  3. I laughed my rear off at this one because I can picture you in all of these situations... FISH rule and at 1.99 for a replacement...great pets!

  4. Well, what do you know. That cat is determined to add color to your already vibrant life. :-) I'm glad he's feeling better and hope he doesn't relapse.

    We've had the same discussion you and Kurt had w/r/t animals and how much to spend to 'fix' them. Bryan's very much of the 'it's an animal, we're not going broke keeping it alive' mentality. And I think I agree, but thankfully my resolve has not been tested just yet. :-)

    Good luck!

  5. I refused to have pets, but my husband has fish. No fur, no vomit, no box, no need to go outside. The tank needs to be cleaned, but my husband is totally responsible for this, not me.

  6. Yesterday morning Madeline says: "Is Leroy feeling better?" (Yes) "Does that mean I can't get a bunny?"

    I think she had mentally replaced the poor cat. And moved away from fish as well....ho hum.


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