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My kitty needs urgent help, but I have no money.

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
We took our 11-month-old Ragdoll/Burmese kitty, Kessa, to the vet today because she has been throwing up yellow, mucous-like fluid for the past 24 hours. She drinks water, but can't keep it down very long. She's also very weak and lethargic.

To give a bit of financial background, my girlfriend and I are both recent College grads. I'm currently laid off and receiving unemployment, and she is working full-time. We live in Ontario, Canada.

At about 8:00pm this evening, concern took over and we drove her to an after-hours clinic and had her checked out. The clinic informed us prior to our arrival that the consultation fee is $98.00. After we fill out the initial paperwork and send her to the back room, the vet comes in and asks us if she can give Kessa a $15 sedative. We agreed. After a bit, she came back and informed us that our kitty would need an X-Ray, and that X-Ray would cost about $170.00.

At this point, I should say that my girlfriend and I are both very upset. Of course, the welfare of our cat comes first, and we'd never compromise that. But I'm absolutely disgusted that anyone would hold me hostage financially to that attachment. So while our meager pocketbooks are being bled dry, circumstances aside, I can't help but feel as if my emotional attachment to my pet is being exploited.

Back to Kessa.. Well, after the X-ray was done, the vet took us into a small room and showed the X-ray to us. It showed nothing too abormal, aside from a bit of gas, and a bit of intestinal bunching, which may or may not be cause for concern.

Moving on, at this point, she blurts out, "Next step is a Barium X-Ray." At this point, well aware of our financial situation, she informed us that it would be $300.00 to have this done. If the X-Ray showed a blockage, it could be up to $1,500.00 for exploratory surgery and removal.

At this point, I'm almost in a panic. All I can think of, is why they would dangle this carrot in front of us, when we're already looking at a large bill. Worst of all, we're $350 poorer without a diagnosis!

She also gave us the option of out-patient care. We can take our cat home to see if she improves overnight. If she worsens, we're to take her back to the hospital.

So, this is our situation. I'm been up all night. Our kitty has not improved and we love her very much. We don't have any more money to spend. However, we have no intention of sitting around watching our cat slowly die. Because I know surgery has a very good chance of saving her, I'm thinking of dropping her off at a clinic and hoping they'll do the right thing.

Even if she can't live with us, I want to give her the best chance at survival. She's only 11 months old and doesn't deserve this.

Now, I know vets are well-meaning, and in most cases aren't in charge of the clinics financial management. However, it occurs to me that there has to be a point where the pro bono welfare of any animal, has to outweigh the financial loss of performing a free or subsidized diagnosis.

As much as it upsets me to do this, I ask you, what other choice do I have? Have I explored other financial options? Please believe me, when I say these funds are not available to us now, or in the near future.

If a vet euthanizes my dear Kessa without exploring other options, then I'm truly sorry. I'm only doing what I think will statistically give her the best chance at survival, without breaking the law.

Any suggestions would be great. Thank you.
post #2 of 25
Maybe try care credit

I hope Kessa will be okay
post #3 of 25
Where r u located...u might try a regular vet that will accept a payment plan..those emergency clinics are a rip off..i spent a small fortune for nothing. I pray for a solution to your problem and I really hope u can keep ur kitty and get her healthy
post #4 of 25
There are quite a few groups that provide vet care assistance. Just PM'd you a list.

Sending lots of vibes for Kessa.
post #5 of 25
I had this same problem with my cat Mickey a few months ago. He had a urinary tract infection and when I took him to one vet, he felt his stomach and said he defenitely had a urinary tract infection and that it would cost 600-1000 to fix. I had only been living on my own for about 5-6 months and didnt have any extra money at all but was asking to borrow money from my dad. I cried all the next day as I called vet after vet asking if they did payment plans. Only one I found did, which is the one I now go to all the time. We had to apply for a credit card from Wells Fargo and they covered the costs up to $3000. The new vet I go to now gave him a shot in the bum to relieve inflamation, gave him some meds for the next 2 weeks and said he would have to be put on special food. All in all cost $157.
I would check out different vets, and if you have good credit, try to apply for a payment plan. I really hope Kessa will be ok
post #6 of 25
We got Care Credit in May but we went over our limit. My Brothers Cat got very sick last March and care Credit turned him down but said if he had a Cosigner he would get the Card. My dad Cosigned for him and the bill was over 4000. She would have died without Surgery and had to go to the Er Vet 2 times after that because she got a Infection. I would check differant Vets to because some will help it depends. My Old Vet let me pay a month later and postdate Checks but I did go there for years.
post #7 of 25
Syne,

I know how you feel about vets holding you an emotional hostage. It really is not right. They are vets to help heal sick pets just as doctors heal humans. Playing the emotional card is inhumane!

I, too, would seek another vet that puts treating animals ahead of payments.

I have had cats in the past, but don't anymore for just that reason. I simply can't afford to have one.
My last kitty died at age 19 1/2 and I just decided that I could not afford another.

If I did consider getting another one, I would check out the vet situation before I needed one, and not being held an emotional hostage by them would be a big factor in choosing one.


Please keep us updated on how your kitty is doing.
post #8 of 25
I agree with the previous poster who said that the emergency clinics are a rip off. A friend of mine accidentally backed over her cat, took it to the emer. clinic and it ended up costing her almost $200 to have a cat put to sleep!!!

Our regular old country vet would have checked him out for $25, done some x rays, then put it to sleep. Probably for less that $80.

Please try another vet and if you can't do anything else, turn the cat over to a rescue or the ASPCA. There is not shame, nor should you feel guilty because you can't afford something-UNLESS you let the cat suffer for it. I know it's hard to think about, but it might be the kitten's best option.

Keeping a good thought for you and your kitty.
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by missymotus View Post
Maybe try care credit

I hope Kessa will be okay
I am not familiar with that but it might be worth a try.
You sound like really nice people. Can you perhaps borrow the money?
I don't want to hear that your cat was euthinized when it wasn't necessary.
Good luck.
post #10 of 25
Any updates on Kessa???
post #11 of 25
I have thought along the same lines as you have...how can a vet rather see a cat euthanized than receive subsidized care? Why should needed medical procedures only be available for the select people who have a lot of money?

I would also try a regular vet...maybe the after-hours people are over-charging. And try for credit. As a grad student, I have so many student loans that I'd just add the pet credit card bills to the pool (ugh).

If you find yourself with an emergency....here are a list of organizations that help in emergencies only. I found these through a google search (posted on other forums) when my friend (who had financial hardships) needed emergency surgery for her dog, who had an obstruction; she found she didn't qualify for most places, but researched these options and applied and did get some money from one place. I hesitate to post these links since i haven't really looked through them, but maybe one or two might be helpful since one was helpful to my friend when she tried them (i wish I remember which one..).

http://www.fveap.org
http://imom.org/fa/
http://www.aahahelpingpets.org
http://www.thepetfund.com
http://www.help-a-pet.org
http://www.handicappedpets.com
http://www.uan.org
http://www.nysave.org
http://www.angels4animals.org/

I hope you guys figure something out, or that the kitty doesn't have an obstruction and gets better on her own.
post #12 of 25
You really need to think about a bigger picture. If your vet gives away his/her services to everybody, how can they afford to stay in business? Who is going to pay the bills? Who will pay the vet techs and secretaries they employ? Who will buy expensive diagnostic equipment and pay to run necessary tests? How will the vet pay his/her mortgage and cost of living?

Do you work for free? I know I don't. I went to school for 6 years and got an expensive degree that I expect to get compensated for. In addition, most vets do some charity work and help out rescues quite a bit with discounts. They are not obliged to give away services because people acquire pets they cannot afford.

Nobody is holding you emotionally hostage. You chose to get a pet and there is always the chance when you get a pet that it will get sick at some point in its life. You should plan for that by either getting pet insurance or setting money aside for emergencies. Why should your failure to plan appropriately be anybody else's fault besides your own?

It is unfair to be angry at your vet when you brought all of this on yourself and he/she is only trying to help your cat. Get a credit card, borrow money from somebody, sell some stuff on e-bay or craigslist or have a yard sale.
post #13 of 25
Vets can not afford to work for free, although from previous experience, $170 for an xray is expensive. I am assuming by the prices that you went to an emergency vet? The first thing to do is get a copy of the vet's notes and go to your own vet. They know your animal best.

Dropping her off at a clinic and hoping they will do the right thing is not a great option. They have to wait 72 hours to see if the cat is claimed and if she is microchipped they will send you the bill anyway.

If you are in receipt of unemployment insurance, the Farley Foundation may be able to help, they are meant for seniors but may have room to take on other cases.

If you adopted her from a shelter, they may have financial assistance available. If you adopted her from a breeder, their contract will state that if you can't keep her that she must be returned so that may be an option for you.

CareCredit is taken by most vets in Ontario and is a quick application form and cheap repayment options.

I am not sure where in Ontario you live, but if you can get to the University of Guelph they have a vet school that performs vet treatments at a reduced rate while students perform (final year) or watch the treatment.

If you let me know where you are I can give you some better resources
post #14 of 25
oh and speak to your vet about something to settle her tummy and try feeding her kitten milk replacement (not regular milk) to get some nutrients to her. The longer she doesn't keep food down the sicker she can become
post #15 of 25
It really depends on where you live. Where I am from, $170 isn't super expensive for an x-ray, especially since they probably had to sedate her to do it.
post #16 of 25
My Border Collie, years ago, had a sore on her nose that wouldn't heal & was slowly getting bigger. I took her to my regular vets that had a brand new, out of university, vet. She was talking about plastic surgery, skin grafts, etc, etc, etc. I was watching the $$$ signs adding up. I went home & spent hours crying.
Then I remembered that a member of my obedienc club was a vet & a Border Collie owner. I took April to her. She did a skin scraping, gave me tablets & cream for her. She said it would get better within a week. It finally cleared up nearly a month later.
post #17 of 25
The bigger picture is that there is sick pet that needs care now! Money should NOT keep the kitty from getting the care that they need.

What happened to treat now, pay later.
Humans that are in need of care go the ER and are treated, whether or not they can pay. The same should be with vets!

MarySmith

Quote:
Originally Posted by kendalyn View Post
You really need to think about a bigger picture. If your vet gives away his/her services to everybody, how can they afford to stay in business? Who is going to pay the bills? Who will pay the vet techs and secretaries they employ? Who will buy expensive diagnostic equipment and pay to run necessary tests? How will the vet pay his/her mortgage and cost of living?

Do you work for free? I know I don't. I went to school for 6 years and got an expensive degree that I expect to get compensated for. In addition, most vets do some charity work and help out rescues quite a bit with discounts. They are not obliged to give away services because people acquire pets they cannot afford.

Nobody is holding you emotionally hostage. You chose to get a pet and there is always the chance when you get a pet that it will get sick at some point in its life. You should plan for that by either getting pet insurance or setting money aside for emergencies. Why should your failure to plan appropriately be anybody else's fault besides your own?

It is unfair to be angry at your vet when you brought all of this on yourself and he/she is only trying to help your cat. Get a credit card, borrow money from somebody, sell some stuff on e-bay or craigslist or have a yard sale.
post #18 of 25
Yes, this cat needs care now. Chastising a hurting owner will do no good other than make them feel even worse and offers no immediate solution for an ill kitty.

I read a statistic in the news once, that stated if every cat in the US had a home, every home would have 46 cats. Now, if only those who can afford expensive vet care can have cats, well, that number rises even higher and leaves many wonderful people and cats without companions. I happen to be one of the poor people. There are many more poor people in the US than well-to-do people.

There is a dire need for more caring, affordable vets out there. Not saying there aren't many, but so many others are in it only for the money - they seem to have forgotten the patient. Just as with doctors for humans. This is why we now have hospitals who must admit and bill later.

To the OP, I think you have some great advice from someone who lives near you. Get on the phone and dont stop calling until you find someone who will help in some way. There just has to be a way. Please let us know how it works out for you and your kitty.
Sending lots of healing vibes
post #19 of 25
I agree with you. Vet hospitals assume you are at their mercy and then charge way more than other places because they figure you'll think they have no other option. This happened to me recently with Giraffe. When they tried to stick me with a bill over $1000 to amputate his leg, I told them I would call around and got a much better price. I would suggest calling around and getting a second opinion. Tell them that you have already found out what may be the problem and that you just want to know what they'd charge. If they want the business, they will give you a better price. But don't tell them up front what the other place is charging... if they say they charge more, tell them the price you got from the first place and ask if they will beat it.

Good luck with your kitten. I hope that everything works out for you!
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarySmith View Post
The bigger picture is that there is sick pet that needs care now! Money should NOT keep the kitty from getting the care that they need.

What happened to treat now, pay later.
Humans that are in need of care go the ER and are treated, whether or not they can pay. The same should be with vets!

MarySmith
So what do you suggest a vet do when he can't recoop costs from owners who could never afford the bills they accumulated and now will not pay? Lay off employees? Raise prices and charge the people who can afford to take care of their animals more? Shut down?

Quote:
I read a statistic in the news once, that stated if every cat in the US had a home, every home would have 46 cats.
And you think it's fair for a vet to be obliged to treat all of these cats for free or at a deep discount? Or to bill their owners even though there is an excellent chance many of them won't pay?

This is an important post to make because the OP needs to understand that there are a lot of responsibilities in pet ownership and this entire situation could have been avoided with better planning. It's not right to pass the buck and blame the vet when the prices he is being quoted do not seem outrageous. His vet even offered supportive care at home to try and keep the bills down.
post #21 of 25
Note that the OP (original poster) posted almost 3 days ago and hasn't posted since and may not be reading this thread anymore....
post #22 of 25
kendalyn,

It's very simple, vets charge way too much for their services. If they charged less, there would not be a problem.

Plumbers charge a hefty price too to unclog the jon. So what if you are poor and know that you could not afford to pay one if your jon plugged up - should you then not have one in the house because you may need a plumber someday?
post #23 of 25
Thank you for giving your cat a home and for caring about it. I can't offer you an answer to your problem but wanted to offer a tiny bit of support. I'm sorry you're feeling frustrated. I really understand since I had a cat that required a lot of medical care. It's frustrating because you want to get your cat the care it needs but to have that much cash on hand is difficult at best. I hope you can find an organization to help you. You've been given some good information to check out on that front.
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarySmith View Post
kendalyn,

It's very simple, vets charge way too much for their services. If they charged less, there would not be a problem.

Plumbers charge a hefty price too to unclog the jon. So what if you are poor and know that you could not afford to pay one if your jon plugged up - should you then not have one in the house because you may need a plumber someday?
Vets in Ontario have to adhere to guidelines for pricing. If they are above the allowed costs they can get in serious trouble.

The insurance costs alone are ridiculous for vets, like doctors because there are so many people who are legal-happy and take people to court over nothing. I know quite a few vets and know the discount they give to shelters and they are not making the huge profits some people think they are. Machines and supplies are not cheap either.

Yes they make a decent living, but no where near what the directors of some animal charities make, but they are paying themselves back for years of schooling that they (or their parents) paid for and didn't work a real job at that time.
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarySmith View Post
The bigger picture is that there is sick pet that needs care now! Money should NOT keep the kitty from getting the care that they need.

What happened to treat now, pay later.
Humans that are in need of care go the ER and are treated, whether or not they can pay. The same should be with vets!

MarySmith
Those human doctors still get paid by the hospital so they don't have to worry whether they can pay their monthly rent, receptionist's salary, vet tech's salary(ies), medications, equipment bills and the list goes on. Not even close to the same thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarySmith View Post
kendalyn,

It's very simple, vets charge way too much for their services. If they charged less, there would not be a problem.

Plumbers charge a hefty price too to unclog the jon. So what if you are poor and know that you could not afford to pay one if your jon plugged up - should you then not have one in the house because you may need a plumber someday?
SOME vets may charge too much, but overall I believe most are charging around the same fees for the same services. I used to go to a dentist that charged much more than other dentists but the work he and his staff did was far superior to the other dentists so I paid the difference because I wanted that service.

I would be very surprised if you could get a plumber to fix now - pay later unless he was a friend, or a friend of a friend. Most of those folks want payment UP FRONT. Why should vets be any different?

Yes, I'd like to see every sick animal taken care of too, but to expect vets to give out their services free to everyone who cries "I can't afford it", that is totally insane. I don't work for free and neither does anyone else I know. I doubt if you would continue to work for your current employer if he came to you and said he couldn't pay you for awhile because he didn't have any money. How does that help you pay your bills and meet your commitments?

Our natural feeling for a sick or injured animal is that we want them treated but I don't think any of us have the right to expect vets to do this for free.

Perhaps the reason the vet clinics are so expensive is that they need to bring in enough money to cover for the folks that don't pay.
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