Pets, Vets, and Automobiles

images (4)I am seriously underwhelmed by my latest visit to the vet.

I am blaming this on Obama. Perhaps the political landscape has become so imbued with universal healthcare rhetoric that veterinarians are afraid it might extend to (gasp) animals, thereby limiting their income. Could it be, in a seedy, underhanded attempt to rake in as much money as possible before the nation’s animal population becomes eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, that vets are banding together to boost the animalcare bubble?

It’s the only plausible explanation I can think of.

Before I explain what happened, here’s a little backstory: I have owned cats for most of my life. I think I got my first one at approximately age 10 and I’ve had one or two ever since. (Dog people, you are welcome to stop reading if the thought of life without dogs and WITH cats makes you queasy.) At any rate, I didn’t have much in the way of vet bills except the periodic rabies or feline leukemia vaccination. Maybe a de-worming or two. And I bought Advantage once in a while in case of fleas. Pretty routine, reasonable stuff.

I realize now that the decision to have an indoor or an outdoor cat makes a big difference as far as vet bills go, because, well, let’s face it – outdoor catsimages (5) get, um, squashed flat by cars. I have suffered through my share of flat cats, let me tell you. It’s not pretty. But it is cheap, because, of course, in the case of cat-flattening, no vet bills are necessary, as 1) their lives are cut rather short, thereby eliminating ongoing vet bills, and 2) no end-of-life shot is necessary; just scoop into bag and bury in location of choice.

However, after I experienced four or five unfortunate cat-flattenings, I got tired of burying them, and decided instead, to keep my new replacement cats in the house. No cars in the house. Made perfect sense, and I didn’t mind the cat-poop-scooping and loved how they looked like adorable, fuzzy home decor wherever they curled up.  A cat adds instant coziness to a room, kind of like a living candle with fur. Plus, an indoor cat has the added bonus of scaring the heck out of tiny, lost field mice should they scamper into the house.

Grumpy_catNow back to the vet story: I took one of my cats (the old one that has developed stuff that needs seeing about) in a PetsMart softside carrier to a vet that came highly recommended. He behaved well, even in the car when I unzipped the little zipper that conveniently allowed him to stick out his head and he got confused and forced his entire body out of the four-inch opening and I stuffed him back in with both hands while driving with my knee. Even then he behaved pretty well, considering. His eyes rolled back a little in his head, and I think I images (7)might’ve squished his larynx, but that was all.

When I got to the vet, he didn’t make a peep as we walked into the vet’s office. I set him down in his carrier, filled out paperwork, and waited. A few mangled growls came from the carrier, and when I checked inside through the cute little nylon-screened carrier-windows, his eyes had white showing all around the colored part, and he seemed to be panting a little more than usual, but that was all. After about fifteen minutes a nice young woman showed me where to take my kitty for the vet exam, then left. The cold, stainless steel counter didn’t look very comfortable to me, but by then my cat was yowling so I let him out. He tiptoed cautiously, his eyes very wide, and rolled himself into as little a ball as possible so he would not slip off.

The vet entered after ten minutes. Interestingly, I’d not seen one, single, other pet in the entire place and wondered why I’d been waiting nearly a half hour, but I told myself to be patient. I was actually quite pleased to be bringing the cat to the vet, proper taking care of my animal and all that, and quite looking forward to what the vet had to say.

images (6)She took exactly three minutes to examine my cat, told me he needed a dental cleaning (850) and at least one tooth pulled (450) and a blood test due to his advanced age (240), that upated annual shots and office visit would be (140) due and payable now, thanks. Then she smiled, and asked if I would like to schedule all of the above.

It took me a little while to comprehend her words, so I gazed at her face a few seconds with my mouth hanging open slightly, an unsuspecting victim of veterinarian sticker shock. My patience crumpled itself up and tossed itself into the trash, along with her pink plastic examination gloves. I looked down at my 11-pound, aging cat huddled on the slippery stainless steel. I composed myself, straightened up to my full height of 5′ – 5-1/2″ and told her, as politely as I could manage, to do the shots and I’d think about the rest. I wisely restrained myself from speaking my mind, which was screaming, if I remember correctly, “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKIN MIND!? WHEN DID PULLING AN ANIMAL’S TOOTH COST FIVE TIMES AS MUCH AS PULLING A HUMAN’S!? NO WAY AM I GONNA SCHEDULE MY CAT! I’LL SHOW YOU! I’LL FIND ANOTHER VET THAT’LL DO IT FOR HALF, OR WAIT, ONE-THIRD!”

I pasted a smile on my face as she gave my cat a couple of shots (about one minute), mumbled thanks, pushed my cat back in the carrier, zipped it up, paid the bill and fled.

The next day, I called several vets in the area, who all quoted me even higher prices. I felt so…so…helpless.imagesCANSXSCD

The whole experience has left me shaken. Obamacare may have further-reaching negative consequences than I thought. I wonder how many aging-cat-owners like me are experiencing veterinarian sticker shock, with the unhappy end result of setting the old critters free. In the wild, where they long to be. Outside in the fresh air with the – well, you know – the cars and everything.

If you happen to see a few more cases of cat-flattening than usual, I want you to know, it’s all Obama’s fault.

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