Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Only time will tell

It's like this.

My cat, my new best friend, my only companion here...

A routine vet appointment has now turned into an overnight stay and bill estimates upwards of $800 to $1000. The shelter that had him for the last two years never looked in his ears or his mouth, so once-treatable ear mites and a broken canine have morphed into severe, chronic infections, cysts, possible hearing loss, and severe dental problems. The kind that might involve bone infections.

And after only three and a half weeks, in which time we've already bonded to the point where he leaps into bed as soon as I glance towards the sheets because he knows it's snuggle time...I can't afford to fix these things. Not even close. Plus, they maybe can't be fixed: the ears could be permanently damaged, and his constant scratching and head shaking might never go away. (Hello, shelter? How fucking blind are you?) The teeth? Who knows. The countless other problems I haven't even listed here all add up to a vague sense of dread. What happens when this five year-old turns 10? How much should I put him through trying to heal what can't mend? And, horribly, how much can I afford to spend when I'm already scraping to get by? What corner do I cut?

I love him. I know it seems strange, having known him so briefly, but I love him already like the kind of pet you've known most of your life. Right now, he's huddled in the back of a sterile sea green kennel, wondering why I left him.

I am not leaving. I'm supposed to return him to the shelter if I can't care for him. Fuck that. They cared for him so much they sent him straight into a hospital. A few months ago, a year ago, 40 or 50 bucks would have fixed all this. Didn't anyone notice the scratching? The trouble eating? It took me two days to catch on.

I'm taking the day off work tomorrow to see if I can meet the vet, face-to-face. I need to look in her eyes and ask her about the long-term prognosis. I want to understand what it will do to him if we try. Because he's been through enough, and the last thing I want to do is heap more pain on him.

Even if that means coming home to an empty house far too soon.


SUEB0B said...

This is so heart-wrenching. I hope it works out.

I volunteered at a shelter where the vet was the most lame person on the planet. He could never have been a vet in private practice. Getting him to do anything extra was like pulling teeth. But I also understand how burned out you get when you see waves of animals, day after day...

A lot of times, the shelter volunteers would pay out of their own pockets for outside vet care. This happened ALL THE TIME. One lady gave $6k to get a dog's leg and hip fixed - a dog that she didn't even keep.

ecogrrl said...

Thanks, SB.

It is so frustrating. I'm also kicking myself because the free pet insurance policy he came with had to be activated to work. Leave it to me not to read the fine print for the first time in my life.