Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Best of your abilities

I was just speaking with a rather distressed caregiver. She has a sick community cat that was sent into the hospital. Due to all the various tests that need to be run on the cat, the bill has mounted and she wanted to know if she could send it in and ask for help. I told her that of course she could and we would try our best to help out.

This cat was apparently 'owned' by a man in the area. This was one of three cats. Apparently he didn't want to look after them any longer, so he took two of them and dumped them somewhere else, much to the frustration and distress of the caregiver. She went to the area but could not find them.

This cat is now ill and the man is uninterested. He has never even called to ask how the cat is doing. The caregiver has spoken with the vet and is trying her best. The vet had suggested she might consider euthanasia due to the cat's condition (it is still bright and responsive but the liver is badly damaged) but understandably, the caregiver finds this a very difficult decision to make.

One thing I told her was that she should consider the size of her colony and what she could afford. Some people may think it crass to talk about money when the cat's life hangs in the balance, but here's the thing - people often have large colonies they look after, and even more cats at home. Consider spending $1000 on one of those cats - now multiply that by x where x is the number of cats that you care for.

So what do you do? Go all out for the cat? Or remember that you have a lot of other cats, who may potentially all need health care especially in later life?

There's no easy to answer to this but one thing to think about is that cats now live longer in general. This is probably due to better health care and advances in veterinary science. At the same time, this means the cat's health is likely to deteriorate with age. This may be why we see more kidney diseases and cancers - kidney problems for example are common in cats above seven years.

Sometimes the only thing that you can do is just do what you can to the best of your abilities - and that includes your financial ability. I was telling the caregiver that it's not a hard road to go down whereby a caregiver spent all that they could on a cat and then realised that they started to get into debt. Once there was a bit of debt, what's a bit more - especially if another cat is sick? After a while, the you realise you can't go back to the vet because you owe them so much money - and you can't afford to feed them the right kind of food appropriate for their conditions, because it costs too much. The cats get sicker - and the vet care is more piecemeal because you're broke. Maybe they're not even getting vet care at all any more because you can't afford it.

As they say, the path to hell is paved with good intentions. Financial considerations ARE real - and you have to take them into account because you have to think about your other cats who also need you.

One thing I told the caregiver was that I know she is doing her best, and that if the day should come where she has to put the cat down, that she shouldn't feel bad because she is trying her best. If she wants to feel upset with anyone, I told her it should be with the guy who callously ignored his own cat in the first place. I also suggested she ask her vet if there may be cheaper options to treat this - they may not be the most efficient way or the 'best' way to treat the cat, but perhaps they can get the job done too in the long run.



Anonymous Danny said...

How much is the bill now? (potentially if there s no exact cost yet)

5/9/07 11:05 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

$1000 and counting I believe.

6/9/07 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Danny said...

I see.No problem,keep me updated on this blog

6/9/07 1:23 AM  
Anonymous belle said...

my own dear cat died of kidney failure & liver failure at 11 years, we had her euthanised while under sedation & she looked peaceful... we miss her alot but i hope she's happy where she is now ...

as long as she's happy, we're happy ... think of it this way - all of us, human/animals - have to die someday anyway ...

whats matters is - the caregiver has done her best, and the cat has lived a happy life and does not suffer further ...

as for the man who abandoned his cat, well, lets juz say he's one of those 'ugly singaporeans' - seems there're so many of them around these days :-(

6/9/07 11:02 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

belle - I'm sorry to hear about your loss, but I am sure that your cat was very lucky to have you.

As I told the caregiver, I am sure that the cat is still alive due to her efforts. Without her, the cat would probably either be dead or in a lot more discomfort.

6/9/07 11:17 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

belle - I'm sorry to hear about your loss, but I am sure that your cat was very lucky to have you.

As I told the caregiver, I am sure that the cat is still alive due to her efforts. Without her, the cat would probably either be dead or in a lot more discomfort.

6/9/07 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from what you've shared, i think it may really be better for the cat to be euthanized. it's going to be very hard on the caregiver (traumatic even). suggest that someone can accompany her and be of support to her if euthanasia is decided. i can accompany her/drive her to the vet, let me know here and i'll contact dawn. - orange-

6/9/07 11:20 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

orange - that's very kind of you. I think she's not going to give up just yet though, so let's see how she feels.

6/9/07 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok. let me know on this thread and i'll contact you. thanks. -orange-

6/9/07 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess we just have to let her decide. As the cat is still bright, she finds it difficult to let her go. The cat's liver is badly damaged, I don't think the vet can help further. I suggest she bring the cat home and let the cat live its remaining days in comfort, at most a week or two.
I spent around 1K for a community cat that I have been feeding for few months.
She had FIV and the vet suggested to euthanise her as she was weak and could not walk then.
I really can't bear to just let her go, I wanted the vet to monitor her for few more days. I visited her daily and saw her improvement. I knew that the 1K could use to help more cats but I do not want to live with another regret. As the saying goes, you never know till you try.
Now the cat is staying with me and jumping about. I am so glad I have given her 1 more year of life.. and hopefully more..

6/9/07 1:04 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous - I am glad that it worked out for you and for the cat! It's always good to hear nice stories like this. The thing is that obviously the burden is much heavier on caregivers because it's not just one cat, but usually multiple cats that are being spoken of and this can be very difficult to cope with, financially and in terms of time, effort. Also obviously as well, what affects the caregiver will affect the cats as a whole in the long run.

6/9/07 3:59 PM  
Anonymous starsky said...

It's a tough decision to let go of a cat you put all your love in... but if the quality of life for the cat is no longer exists, then what's the use of quantity of life?

6/9/07 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Danny said...

Whats her decision now? Does she want to save the cat? (My own community cat also died from the same problems 1 yr ago...the vet couldnt save her either) We missed alot til this day.

We can help to pay too.

6/9/07 10:15 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Thanks Danny - if you want to drop me an email I can convey your kind offer to her.

6/9/07 11:17 PM  

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