Friday, March 28, 2008


Here is the one unchanging law in my life: the second I have any extra cash in my bank account that isn't earmarked for rent/mortgage, bills, car payments, or other living expenses - the very instant I feel like I'm doing a little better than just breaking even - my pet, whatever pet I happen to have at the time, will need expensive surgery. There's no getting around it. Extra cash for fun things, that leather jacket I've had my eye on, maybe a piece of real furniture to replace some old piece of shit I got at a garage sale in 1987, or simply put into savings for a rainy day, is evidently NOT ALLOWED.

For I just learned that The Calico - Lieutenant Vinegar Matilda 'Fraid o' Nuthin' Badass Calico of Doom - my Second in Command - needs to have a growth removed from her ear and we just got the estimate from the vet's office. $600 plus for the removal of a growth that may or may not be benign - but we won't know until they remove it. How much do you want to bet that that amount is EXACTLY the amount of our state tax refund.

I just BET.

But I have to do it. This cat is too good, too cool, too necessary to me to take a chance on this thing not being benign. Nothing for it but to do this the right way, and soon - just in case. So, on April 15 (tax day, no shit, gotta love the almost teleological synchronicity there, huh?) she goes under for the third surgery of her life. She'll do fine, of course, for she is made of nails and a motorcycle engine. And when the biopsy comes back, they'll say "oh, it was nothing, a completely benign little growth...but aren't you glad you know for sure?" And then I'll rub her little head and say "you better not have any more little issues, because if you do, it's curtains." And not really mean it.

No joke, this has happened with most of the pets I've owned since moving to the Boston area and their health and upkeep was my financial responsibility. Get a few extra bucks - oh look, the cat's limping. Finally ahead on the debt? What's that wheezing sound?

I love all of my cats very much, but once they start dying, I think I'll replace them with guinea pigs. Nobody takes guinea pigs to the vet for expensive procedures, yearly vet exams, or vaccinations. They live for a few years, then some morning you find a stiff little cavvy corpse in the cage, which you then bury in a shoe box in the back yard. No fuss, no muss. Of course, I don't really MEAN it. Of COURSE I'll get more cats. Maybe a dog.

I am hopeless.


Blogger fatmammycat said...

Oh darling, cats and ears and having no money, why it's like we're the same blooming person. Hope it a benign piece of expensive crap.

28 March, 2008 13:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor Vinegar. Hope it's just expensive and benign...have you thought about pet insurance? Sure wish I'd had it when Ashmont was diagnosed with lymphoma--that was a GRAND just to get to the diagnosis, and she was given 3 months to live. 7+ years later, she's still going strong...

The Goblin and I went to visit some PetCo-prisoner cavies last night. I don't even want to think about the dramatic sobbing that will greet the stiffenened little corpse when that day arrives.

Did you ever have problems with Bubbles & Suds going after Peaches when you all cohabited? I've read cavies have nervous constitutions and must be kept separate from other pets that would hunt them (cough *kittehs* cough.) I would rather have kittehs at this point but the situation being what it is it is probably cheaper to get cavies...

Thanks for all yr help with that other thing, crabcake.


28 March, 2008 15:00  
Blogger Andraste said...

FMC - yes, I remember you having to bring Puddy in from time to time with some ear ailment or other. Why is vet care so expensive?!

Sare - I have looked into pet insurance. The cost of insuring 3 cats (even indoor cats!) is prohibitive - a couple hundred a month - which doesn't make any sense to me. It's more than I pay for MY insurance!

Never had a problem with Suds/Bubbles/Captain/StinkyPete going after Peaches. Somehow, the cats didn't look at her as a possible food source or toy - I don't think they knew what the hell she was. If she'd been smaller, maybe, like a hamster or gerbil, I'm sure they would have been interested, but they pretty much ignored her.

And she was dumb as rocks, so I don't think she ever saw the cats as any kind of threat - I also suspect her eyesight wasn't very good - she probably had NO idea what the hell was going on, ever.

28 March, 2008 15:15  
Blogger Medbh said...

Mmm, new leather jacket!
When I was buying my lemon patent slingbacks with the Nike air technology at Cole Haan, the dude talked me into trying on the butteriest of fawn leather jackets. Then I saw the price tag and peeled it off.

Fingers crossed for Vinegar.

28 March, 2008 18:07  
Anonymous Sam, Problemchildbride said...

Poor Vinegar. $600 sounds extortionate for a wee lump though. I know the testing's important but does she have to go completely under to remove it? Couldn't they just use a local anaesthetic? We used to chop wee bits and pieces off of things using a local in the vet's at home, mainly because people couldn't afford a full surgery. It was a job sometimes and not any fun for the animal or us but they were none the worse for it, had recovered in about 30 seconds, got to go right home and it didn't break the customer's bank.

It might be worth getting a second opinion from another practice. Just a thought. Vets though, like dentists, have us over a barrel adn we pretty much have to pay what they tell us. Bah!

28 March, 2008 19:36  
Blogger Andraste said...

Indeed, Medbh - I can live without that jacket, it's just superfluous - but oh...just to be able to blow that kind of cash on a luxury. I has never happened, and will likely never happen. I'm not sad, just wistful.

Sam- the problem with second opinions is that any vet's office will charge you $100 just to walk in, nevermind whatever tests and lab work - so there's the very real and likely possibility that you'll still spend the $600 anyway. It's not like going for a second opinion with a human, that your insurance will pay for...with pets, best to just run with it and try to (you'll pardon the expression) nip it in the bud.

ANd a local aneasthetic is tough with cats, they'll rip you to shreds. This one is tough as nails - in pain and frightened, I wouldn't wish her on anyone! So it'll have to be a general.

28 March, 2008 20:46  
Anonymous laughykate said...

Next week I have to film at a vet's surgery - we're kicking off with bitch spaying and then following it up with a kitteh leg amputation. I want to vomit.

However one thing this vet has said is that you can always try and negotiate your bill. Payment options and occasionally, price.

29 March, 2008 00:21  
Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

My dog is chewing happily on an organic free range bison bone. Good news for the dog, not so good for the Great White Buffalo. Human's relationship with the animal world is a weird one. First we think the seal is cute, then we eat him.

Sonja and would both like to get a kitten to snuggle with the Hammer. Then we remember our last cats, the ones who did not want to share a house with our first dog Strangler, scratching up the spines of the covers of my record collection.

They were the snuggliest cats ever.

30 March, 2008 01:12  
Blogger David Sullivan said...

Vets prey on our emotions. It probably costs $50 to do the surgery, but they know they can get more. I had a vet do surgery on my cat years ago. The cat died and I still got a bill for $500.
I hate vets.

30 March, 2008 12:21  
Blogger The Troll said...

Why not just remove the growth and analyze it yourself? It isn't rocket science.

03 April, 2008 18:18  
Blogger Andraste said...

Sure Troll. That makes a lot of sense. I am not a vet, nor a doctor, nor a scientist of any kind - so I'm supposed to look at this growth, without a microscope or any medical knowledge, and tell whether the cells are cancerous or not? MIght just as well be rocket science.

I think I like this cat a little too much to trust her medical well-being to an English major without any proper training.

And I would advise, unless YOU have some, that you don't take your pets' care into your own hands either. They won't thank you for it.

03 April, 2008 18:35  

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