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.