Scenes From A Veterinary Clinic

Scene I

In her mailbox, The Woman sees an envelope bearing a bright green neon sticker. “Second Notice” is printed on it in a font that looks like Arial Bold, 22 point. It is from the vet. The first notice came just the week before. The Cat is due for his annual check-up

Under her breath, The Woman wonders why no one is this concerned that she herself, has not had an annual check-up for three years because of the doctor shortage.

Scene II

The Woman has rented a car to take The Cat to The Vet because she lives in the only city in the world that does not allow even pets in certified pet carriers on public transit. And because a taxi would cost significantly more than a rental car. It is raining cats and dogs. The Woman finds driving unpleasant. The Cat objects as well.

Scene III

The Vet: The Cat’s heart murmur has escalated. You need to take him for a cardiology consult and ultrasound.

The Woman: I see.

The Vet: It could be nothing, of course. Many cats have heart murmurs that indicate nothing. But it could be a sign of heart disease.

The Woman: I see.

 The Vet: The only way to be sure is to have the ultrasound.

 The Woman: And if it’s heart disease?

The Vet: Then we can put The Cat on medication so he’ll be able to fulfill his full life potential of 16 years or more.


The Woman: I see.

The Vet: The fee is $600 for the cardiologist and ultrasound.

The Woman: I see….. Um…that seems like an awful lot of money for a test.

The Vet: (huffily) Well, these are very highly trained people who’ve gone to school for a long time and their equipment is very specialized.

The WomanOooohhhhhh! And here I thought you were talking about tests performed by an elementary school child with a wooden stick….

Scene IV

The Woman has coaxed The Cat back into his carrier. The Vet, (who incidentally resembles a rabbit) is frowning and making notes in The Cat’s file, no doubt about The Woman’s lack of pet ownership commitment.

The Woman is dejected and feels guilty for not ensuring she was  independently wealthy before acquiring a pet. The Cat, as always, shows no signs of illness; is rambunctiously active and happy to be going home.



30 responses to “Scenes From A Veterinary Clinic

  1. Bazel The Cat will not be rambunctious and happy if subjected to a wasteful day of testing when he could be actively employed by sleeping and staring.

  2. Ouch. I actually just had ultrasound and cardiology for one of my ferrets, which was $140. And the $140 included half a package of Nutrical stuff to keep her quiet while stickers were attached to her paws and her belly shaved…

    Taken on a $200.000 machine by a highly-trained specialist, by the way.

    To be honest – I would wait for the huge exam until the cat actually has symptoms, like heart cough, weight loss or weight gain… then it’s time to bring out the meds. And then again, often a simple x-ray is enough to determine that…

  3. i just can’t believe it costs that much. do you think it’s all a racket? a money maker? preyeing on how vulnerable people are when it comes to their pets? or do these things really cost this much?

  4. when i was growing up and any animal was ailing, my folks believed in pain management til nature took it’s course or had them euthanized to put them out of their misery. very practical people they are.

  5. There’s a vet in my old woods who thinks I’m an evil cat owner because I wanted to buy the worm medication ($10) and administer it myself (free), instead of paying his $250 dollar fee. Less stress for the cat is my motto. I KNOW how well the woman takes care of the cat, so I absolve her of all guilt (nymphs have that kind of power) for not going through with an invasive procedure.

  6. Of course you’re a terrible person.
    Not because of cat and little XUP abuse, but because you personally are prolonging this recession by not spending all your money at every possible instance.
    Rental instead of taxi? How will non english speakers with no licenses afford the CC memberships while you “save” a few bucks?
    Won’t pay for the vet’s kids orthodontist? When the brat goes on a shooting spree remember it was your fault.
    Now call the vet and pay up for the cat and then give little XUP the credit card to get her light gray jeans and go to work to help keep the country running.
    Sheesh, public servant indeed.

  7. Violetsky – It’s amazing how traumatizing a 10 minute car ride can be to a cat, let alone getting poked and prodded on a regular check-up. I can’t imagine what a cardio visit and ultrasound (for which he will no doubt have to be anesthetized) would do to him.

    Gila – Weight gain?? It’s a cat. They’re forever gaining weight. And ya, I don’t understand why there isn’t a less cost intensive test that can give them a diagnosis. $140 I would gladly pay – I paid that much for this last check up and rabies shot – but $600? Wow.

    Hannah – I have pet insurance but that’s a whole racket in and of itself. Even if you get the absolute most comprehensive package that will cost a bundle and will cover preventative care, there is still a whole whack of stuff they won’t cover. Stuff like heart murmur diagnoses don’t seem to be covered anywhere. My insurance is about $150 a year for indoor cats only and covers most accidents and a few common cat diseases.

    Meanie – I don’t know. They definitely try to guilt you into stuff. I know people who’ve paid $700 to get their cat’s teeth cleaned (they knock them out for it which is how they justify the cost). I did a whole post once on how it seems only rich people are allowed to own pets any more – unless you never take them to a vet – and I do know people who don’t. We always had a bunch of animals around when we were kids on the farm. The roamed freely and the most vet attention any of them ever received was to get spayed or neutered. I mean, I like my cat and I would not let him suffer, but some perspective has to be maintained, I think.

    Woodsy – The Woman thanks The Wood Nymph although residual guilt remains. The papers are full of how tragic it is that people are dropping off their pets at shelters as the economy plummets. It’s so sad that people have to do without their pets because they can’t afford the astronomical vet fees. Feeding them costs nothing, but the check-ups, needles and if something goes wrong? It becomes prohibitively expensive.

    Bandobras – Okay, either the kid gets the credit card or we check and see if the cat is sick. I can’t do both. Of course, in either case we don’t eat for a few weeks, but I could stand to lose a few pounds anyway.

  8. “Bandobras: Of course you’re a terrible person.
    Not because of cat and little XUP abuse, but because you personally are prolonging this recession by not spending all your money at every possible instance.”

    AH ha ha! Sigh. Cry.

    Poor cat. $600 is so much money, especially if he is not showing outward signs of illness (except for the whole fear of the new chair thing).

    I had a friend once whose cat was hit by a car and the vet recommended a very pricey operation and her native-to-a-“3rd world” country-husband was appalled at the idea of spending money to save a cat. He was still getting his head wrapped around the concept of keeping a cat in the house. She ended up just feeding the cat some Noni juice and treating him like a little feline king and he lived another 8 years.

    Noni Juice did not pay me to write that.

    Did you know that there are orthodontia braces for cats? And dogs? I learned that at the fancy vet school here at the University where I work. A place where vets like yours were trained. What in the world?

    Humans are denied basic dental care and wealthy cats get braces??

  9. We have neighbours who ended up spending over $6000 (C) on a dog. It was, indeed, a guilt trip. The man of the house had hit the feckless animal with his car, and, although it was the dog being dumb, the poor guy felt guilty. No way could they afford it.
    The whole vet shaming people into it thing leaves me cold.

  10. I’d be dilemnatized. (I made that up, of course). I just don’t know who to trust anymore medically speaking. Doctors or vets or myself. Just hope for the best, XUP. Go with your gut.

  11. Bandobras’ comment referred to Country Club memberships, not Credit Cards.

    And he’s right. If the taxi drivers can’t afford to go to the Country Clubs, then you’re responsible for both the taxi industry AND the country club industry going to shits.

    The cat’s heart murmur is God’s* way of saving the economy. He works in mysterious ways, you know.

    (*a.k.a. the almighty dollar)

    This crazy story has cemented my no-pets-for-me policy.

    – RG>

  12. Ha!

    Speaking as someone with 3 cats – 2 dogs & a bird –


    You can guess – I think we pay for our local vets cottage, car, & golf membership…..

    One dog is on non-allergic food @ 80 bucks a case (cheaper than the 300 in meds for the reactions)


    Walk into an avian vet with a bird – you hear the muzak go ka-ching!

  13. Missy – Bazel miraculously got over his chair fear overnight. When I got up yesterday morning he was sitting in it looking completely nonchalant. Noni juice, eh? Does it cure heart murmurs, too?

    Mary G – Holy moses – $6,000??? That would be a tough one. You could buy 10 new dogs for that. I guess it all depends on what kind of money you have laying around to begin with.

    Helen – It would make your hair curl to hear the money ordinary people spend on their animals – and I’ve spent quite a bit on this one already. $800 for his first year of needles and neutering, $140 every year for insurance, another $150 for annual check-ups and needles. $10 – $20 per day cat sitting whenever we go away over night. A million dollars worth of cat toys, litter domes, kitty condos AND all the food, litter, etc. But he was free originally…

    Laura – Me too. I mean, I’m sure he has a heart murmur, but I can’t understand why only a $600 ultrasound will be able to tell me if it’s serious or not.

    Grouchy – You’d better swear off kids as well. If you think pets are expensive, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

    Elliot – You’re a better man than I. If you have more than one pet you might as well have a vet of your own staff. Giving them room and board and a modest salary would cost you less.

  14. I can’t even tell you how much money I’ve spent on my pets over the years. My last dog had a condition that required constant medical care and I never thought twice about it. Granted, I don’t have kids, but I would still do whatever I could. I have insurance and it does help, but vet care is insanely expensive.

    Funny you wrote this today: I’m at home this morning, waiting to take Gracie to the vet to check out a tick bite.

  15. I agree with the advice to go with your gut. You’ll KNOW when Bazel is sick, and you’ll do “the right thing”.
    If caring for elderly parents was only so easy…

  16. We have not taken our cat to the vet for years. She hates the cat carrier so much that it seems counter productive so we just let her moulder away without benefit of medical scrutiny. She is 17 years old and eats like a horse so we must be doing something right.

  17. Mo – Ya, the kids tend to suck up most of your income. And dogs, for some reason, seem to rate a bit higher on the scale than cats. And show dogs, especially. I have insurance, too, but so far they haven’t covered anything I actually need.

    Bob – Hmmm. I’d spend $600 without a second thought on my mum — but that’s probably not what you meant

    Grouchy – meh, lawn kids, biological kids… six of one, half a dozen of the other

    Loth – My horse eats like a cat!! Naw, I don’t have horse. I know a few people who don’t take their animals to vets and everyone seems to live perfectly comfortable, productive lives. You and they are probably going to burn in some veterinary hell one day, but meanwhile, you don’t have to remortgage the house

  18. I’m still stunned by the “has coaxed The Cat back into his carrier”. It implies that (a) you can actually get near the cat and (b) you are not lying in a pool of blood and shredded body parts on the exam room floor. I’ve heard of cats like yours before, but I thought they were just fairy tales.

    B has to be masked and knocked out just for a checkup as he absolutely freaks out. I feel bad for him, but the knocking out is much easier on his system (and mine) than letting him steep in hysteria would be. This is why we don’t go to the vet unless we have to — we’ll both live longer without the stress.

    __Did you know that there are orthodontia braces for cats? And dogs?__

    Hell, there are prosthetic testicles for neutered pets. Now *that* is when you know you have way too much disposable income.

  19. Oh happy day! A Bazel The Cat post! With a Bazel The Cat picture! He is so handsome I just wanna mush him and shmush him NOM NOM.

    The vet and I are currently working on slightly adjusting Moses’s insulin levels. So, consequently, it’s test after test after test after test CHA CHING. But you know your cat. You’d know if he needed 10 bazillions dollars in tests. Bazel got to go home. Bazel gets all your love. What’s more healthy than that??

    “Tests performed by elementary school children with a wooden stick.” Heh.

    Can’t wait to read the next post tagged $600. Awesome.


  20. CP – Good idea! I don’t want a rabies shot, though.

    Louise – He’s pretty curious and was sniffing around the place – a little nervous from the car ride and people touching him, but didn’t make too much of a fuss. Your cat sounds really scary. And ya, someone else in the comments mentioned braces and I’ve heard of the neutical before, too. We’ve really lost our minds, I think.

    Friar – HA!

    Geewits – Indeed. That’s blasphemous, of course, in some circles. I once worked with a woman who said that if she saw a dog and a child crossing the road about to get hit by a truck, and she could only save one of them, she’d save the dog — no question. She freaked me out.

    Lesley – Bazel would bite your face off if you tried to smush him. He’s not a smushable kind of cat. He’s an expensive vet test kind of cat.

    Nat – Ha ha – aren’t you cute with your college of physicians and surgeons website. The first place I tried. I’ve called every clinic, hospital, doctor, nurse, medical associate in and around this city for the last 2 years and they always just laugh at me at the notion that there might be an available GP. I’ve written to city and provincial health care officials who’ve written back saying, “sorry, but we do have some medical students graduating in the next 5 years and if they stay in Ottawa that might open up some spots –but hurry because they’ll be gone the next day”. I finally managed to talk someone into putting me on a waiting list. I got a call back a few months ago to fill out some paperwork so I could be short-listed. Then I got a call a while ago to come in for an interview. Now I am eligible to get on a list with a nurse practitioner. She’ll be able to do a check-up for me. I feel like I’ve won the lottery.

  21. They pulled that one on me with one of my cats. She apparently had thyroid issues, which required either a) a pill a day for the rest of her live (which was a wonderful way of ensuring your eyes were gouged out in short order) or b) radiation, which implied 10 days isolated in a cage with no visitors or toys.

    I passed. Vet was pissed.

    She went on to live another 6 healthy years and died of something completely unrelated to her thyroid.

    If they checked us as diligently as they do our animals, we’d always have something wrong too.

  22. You put those two things beside each other and now I feel silly. Our cat saw vets more than I saw doctors too.

    We were encouraged to arrange tests to put a label on something, or rule something out, but for either case, there’s no cure or medicine that wouldn’t make quality of life worse. On par with human medicine but no OHIP.

  23. snarky doctors like that make me want to punch them in the neck. evidently they don’t teach them fancy book learnin’ folks how to act proper 😉

    i once quit a lady vet who was like this.