Friday, November 03, 2006

Medical costs

A woman just called as a vet had recommended she try and contact us. It appears her daughter saw a cat knocked down by a car and she wanted to know if we would take the cat. I spent at least five minutes explaining that we would like to know the prognosis of the cat - would it be likely to walk again? Would it be paralysed? Would she be keeping it if it was the latter case? Most importantly, I wanted to know what the prognosis was and if the operation would be a success.

She kept saying she did not know, nor did she know what the prognosis was. I asked if she could check with the vet and get back to us. She asked if there was another shelter she can send the cat to.

After explaining again about how we want to know what the long term effects are so we can best see how to help, she said that the cat had been hit on the mouth and the jaw was a bit out of sync! I've told her to send in the bill and we'll see what we can do to help. She said that she needed us to pay the whole bill - and I explained we can't commit to paying for an operation because we do have limited funds and we need to know what's involved.

This reminds me of a woman who a few years ago told us she needed help and it was a matter of life and death. She said she would check and said the bill would not come to over $250 and we told her to go ahead. In the end, the bill came in at over $1000. I told her we couldn't help - a lot of it was for hospitalisation. Apparently she just left the cat in there long after it could go home and the bill kept piling up. We told her we would help out with what we agreed on but no more.

That incident made us very careful and we now have guidelines on what we can and can't help with so that we can try and help as many people as possible.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether it is picking up a cat or paying for the medical care of the cat - the person who wants to do something for the cat has to be prepared to take on the long-term responsibilities of that cat. There are thousand of cats on the streets. Many of us would love to pick up that cat, but that gesture not only would cost you time, money and stress & you have to be responsible for its lifelong welfare. Dump it back on the street after paying hundreds of dollars of medical care? How would that help? It would then suffer the same fate another day.
If you pick up a cat, you have to be prepared to keep it for life or be prepared to help to adopt it into a good home - which is not easy.
You just cannot be the "do-gooder" - have the 'feel good' moments and expect someone to pick up the tab (in cash or time). If it is the vet's idea, then the vet shd be calling so that the vet could answer those questions about the cat.
Such charitable thought is noble but the action of "picking up the cat" would usually mean a lifetime committment. Do not expect someone else to take over.

3/11/06 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If CWS don't help, then where else can she obtain help?

3/11/06 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If CWS accepts every sick cat from public then where are they going to find the money to pay the vets?

CWS can help do-gooders get special rates from the vet clinics and how to provide care and raise cats in a responsible and loving way. They can also help with adoption.

Do-gooders should use their own funds. CWS is not a rich organisation.

3/11/06 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jus wondering, how much does a typical vet consultation cost? lets say treating a bite wound on the cat which is infected. cos one of my favourite strays got bitten by a fierce cat & the wound looks bad. :(

3/11/06 11:14 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous 2 - We CAN help, but we need to know what her long term plans are. For example, if the cat has nowhere to stay when it is recuperating that will be a problem. The woman is not going to take it in permanently so knowing where the cat is going to go is important.

Also as I said I can't say how much we can reimburse because it depends on how much it's going to cost (and the woman has no clue). If the cost is a few thousand dollars for this one cat, we could use that same amount of money to help several other cats instead.

A consultation should not cost more than $50. This is for the consult fee than you can find out more about what needs to be done.

4/11/06 12:54 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous 3, you're right - we once counted that if we had 35-70 fairly serious cases, we'd be completely broke.

4/11/06 1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pardon me for this, if I am poor and if I cannot house the injured/sick cat, I should just sigh and walk away?

4/11/06 5:34 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

No - but someone has to be responsible for the cat.

All we're asking for is for someone to be responsible for the cat - we can try and help with the costs. Funds are finite - and a cat with someone to care for it has a far better chance then a cat no one wants to look after.

Finding a sick cat and then passing it to someone else IS as good as sighing and walking away.

4/11/06 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pardon me for me, if all the sick cats are taken in by cat/animal welfare groups that people pick up, who would be paying for the medical cost and be responsible for the cats when they get well?

Where do you house them? Put them back on the streets where they could be knock down by cars again the animal/cat welfare groups again??

Where do the funds come from?

4/11/06 6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

: ) How about if I can afford the cost but do not have time and space for the injured / sick cat?

4/11/06 6:42 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

In that case, the cat could be boarded till it is well possibly.

4/11/06 7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, that's the answer I am looking for. Some people may have times and loves for the animals but short of fund, and some people may have extra cash to spend on animals but lack of times. It works both way - my opinion.

5/11/06 12:04 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I'm sorry I don't quite understand what you mean. BOTH situations could be worked out. If you have NO time and NO money, that's a situation that can't be worked out.

Let's put it this way. Resources (both time and money) are finite. So they have to be allocated in the best possible way.

In one case we helped out with, we spent a few hundred dollars with an expensive operation because the cat had a megacolon problem. This was because the person who had the cat said she couldn't afford it. Then she said she couldn't look after it - so she put the cat back out on the street. Now this cat needs a special diet for the rest of its life. Of course, the cat then within two months needed another operation because it ate junk on the street. And of course she came back and asked for more money - after which she was going to put the cat out on the street again.

So what should we do? Keep paying for this one cat forever? When in fact, the one operation would have been sufficient if she had kept the cat in?

Or should we use that money to help another responsible caregiver who would have done the same and that cat would be cured forever?

People seem to forget that WE don't have a lot of money either. If people aren't prepared to contribute either time or money, then how is the cat supposed to be helped?

On a deeper level, this is a question of responsibility. Say you wanted to adopt an orphan from a war torn country but you had neither time NOR money - would the aid agencies tell you that's ok? That they understood you meant well and would give you all the money you need to look after this child? No. They'd evaluate you and make sure you could handle it before giving you the child. All the good intentions in the world aren't worth anything if they aren't followed up with some action.

5/11/06 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dawn, I agree with you.

Anonymous, if you have the funds but do not have the time or space. You can find a boarder to take in the cat. Which is what I did. I have 4 dogs and one cat at home. I can't take in any more animals. I did find a stray with kittens at my previous workplace. They were in a dangerous position as they were living in the car park and the kittens were in the drain. A heavy downpour would mean the kittens will drown.

What I did was, I went and caught the mother (she's very friendly and is currently up for adoption) and the kittens. With the help of a friend, who's a cat lover and a member of CWS, she referred Angel and the kittens to a boarder. The kittens have all now been adopted. A few of us are sharing the monthly costs of Angel till we can get her adopted. My cat lover friend is doing a great job of keeping track of Angel and other cats that she has with the boarder to help them get adopted.

So this is an alternative. If you do see a sick cat or a cat you think needs to be rescued, there are avenues. It doesn't mean that once you helped a sick cat get well, you dump it back onto the street. But do bear in mind that some cats are feral and can't be domesticated. They would probably survive better on the streets than in a home. What we can do for these cats is to ensure that they have safe and help out when we can if they are sick.


6/11/06 10:57 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Thanks for sharing that Marilyn - and what you said is very important, some cats are much better off on the street. Sometimes we think, poor cat living on the street, but in reality, this is the cat's home. It may strike YOU as sad, but the cat may be perfectly happy and contented where it is.

What people often forget is that taking a cat and putting it in a shelter or boarding place for life (besides being expensive and only being able to help SOME cats), is that it can be very stressful on the CAT. Not all cats like living in a home with many other cats - and in fact, I read that in every household with 10 cats, chances of one of them being a sprayer is very high due to the stress.

6/11/06 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That person who picked the cat has good intention. The first thing that comes into her mind is to save the injured animal as quickly as possible. She did it out of kindness. Just like, if you see someone knocked down by a car and bleeding on the road, will you call an ambulance for that injured man? But this does not mean that she will be responsible for everything. I am sure the society can help her with some of the medical expenses.

6/11/06 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The person who picked the injured cat has good intention of saving it. I am sure the first thing that comes into her mind is to save the injured animal as quickly as possible.

Just like if you see a man being knocked down by a car and bleeding on the road, will you call an ambulance for him.

But this does not mean, she has to be responsible for everything.

She can foot part of the bills and CWS should also help her

6/11/06 1:41 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous - I don't know how many ways I can put this. We DID offer to help with the medical bills.

She then said she couldn't look after the cat, etc, she didn't know what the prognosis is, etc, etc. Plus she said she wanted us to pay for the whole thing and I asked for an estimate which again she couldn't give before she said nevermind.

Also, as for calling an ambulance, the state has system to pay for people. Who pays for the animals? We don't get any funding from the authorities.

6/11/06 2:05 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Another thing Anonymous - most people have good intentions, but intentions alone aren't going to save a cat. Someone has to do the work, bringing the cat to the vet, paying for the costs, etc. We're willing to help, but the person with the good intentions must be willing to do something - if not, those intentions aren't worth very much at all.

6/11/06 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People have 'good' intentions but the fact remains - someone has to pay. I would like to buy provide better housing for the foreign workers (I got good intentions), who will pay?
I would like to feed all the stray cats on the streets (I got good intentions), who will pay?
I would like could go on&on. If the subject is "I", then "I" got to pay.
Who does not want to be the "good" guy? Sure, go ahead....but pay.

6/11/06 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I think you are missing Dawn's point. It's not that the CWS doesn't want to pay, but there is a limit to the funds available.

For this particular lady. Yes, she has the right intentions. But if she can't provide enough information, it's hard for anyone to help. If you use the e.g. of seeing an injured person. You call for an ambulance, but is not able to tell the operator the location of where the injured person is. Doesn't help very much.

Same thing here, you try to help a cat, but is not able to provide the information required, there's a limit to what the CWS can do.

Everyone has good intentions, but intentions are just intentions. If the intention is not followed through, it will remain as that. A dream, an ideal.


7/11/06 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My colleague picked up an injured cat months ago from the car park and sent it to SPCA.

SPCA took the injured animal and treated it.

10/11/06 4:13 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

That's great to hear! What did your colleague do with the cat after?

10/11/06 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still do not understand what is an accepted proper procedure after reading all the debate.

So if I saw an injured cat but maybe if I was just a student who has $2 daily allowance. So I cannot even afford a vet consultation, or maybe even to deliver the cat to a vet.

Then what do I do?

A) Walk away and pray someone with more ability can help

B) Ring up Cat Welfare and ask for help

C) Post in a forum alerting others that a cat located somewhere needs help, hoping some other kind hearted soul out there would help

Like seriously, what can someone in that situation do if financially strapped? Some of these things are really not common sense questions, it would be helpful if we really have a step by step guide line.

13/11/06 5:51 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous, there is no proper procedure as you put it because there ARE no set guidelines. Every case is different. As I've said we can try and help with the costs, but who's going to look after the cat? What's the student with $2 a day going to do after? Take it in? Put it back on the street? Every case is different.

I have to say I don't think it's like, this is the scenario, now let's apply step one to three. I do actually think it's a matter of common sense. Assess the situation, look and see what YOU can do, and then decide how to proceed. From what I can see, it seems as if the 'solution' in your cases basically involves looking to someone else to do something. What about the person who found the cat?

Let's be brutally honest here - if you walk around you can always find a cat that needs help. So why should a foster/someone else help the cat that YOU found? Why don't they just go out and help a cat they come across which they've already been doing?

13/11/06 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, my 3 scenarios are all finding someone else to help, only because, I can't think of anything else that kid could have done. I don't know why you say it is common sense, when it isn't. Or maybe I'm just slow.

This scenerio I brought up is not uncommon, there are often school kids who chance upon injured strays and know not what to do. Most of them do not have animal-friendly parents either.

One thought is that he could have brought the cat home, feed it, and hope it recovers, but what if his parents were unsupportive and hates animals and demand he throws it out? Maybe he could find a box and hide the cat in some HDB stairway, and sneak food to it occasionally.

I mean seriously, some guidance is needed here. What would you do if you were in that kid's position?

13/11/06 10:08 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous - it depends. How is the cat injured? Is it a wound? Is it cat flu? Is it FIV? Does it need long term treatment? Is one visit to the vet enough? Does it need multiple visits? Is it something that can be easily cured? Is it a terminal problem? Does the cat need medication? Does it need constant dressing? Is the cat able to go back on the street? etc, etc

What you're asking is so general that it really isn't helpful. Every single situation is different. What you're asking for is one set template to be used in every single situation - and because every single situation is different, there cannot be a single solution.

Life is complicated - and there aren't easy solutions. It'd be lovely to say, here's the solution - but life doesn't work that way.

You're also assuming every student will act the same way. And every parent. Maybe the parent will throw the cat out. Maybe they'll be supportive. What's the point in talking of hypotheticals if there isn't an actual case?

14/11/06 2:22 AM  

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