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Time To Block That Particular Vet

, , , , | Healthy | September 7, 2021

This takes place during the beginnings of the 2020 health crisis, over a span of three months, from January to March. I have had my cat Linus since he was four months old and got him from a local rescue, meaning he was neutered when I got him. In 2020, he was five years old. I take him to his annual checkups and he has never had any issues.

One day, Linus starts acting funny. He’s making a cry I’ve never heard and looks like he’s searching for something. He keeps pawing at my clothes and a rag that I use for dusting. I watch as he squats in an attempt to pee on the rag. I quickly scoop him up and put him in his litter box. He tries to pee, but hardly anything comes out. I’m worried that he has a UTI, which in neutered males can cause a blockage and, as I found out later, they only have about seventy-two hours before they die if they are blocked.

I call my vet and explain what is happening to set up an appointment. I talk to a woman on the phone who I assume is a vet.

Vet: “If he is blocked, then there is nothing we can do except refer him to the ER where they can treat him. You should just go to the ER instead of wasting your money to come to us first and then to the ER.”

I do this, not knowing this will be the first act of many stressful moments over this three-month time period.

At the ER, they take a look at him and say that he is not blocked but simply has a UTI. They give me three or four types of medication (ranging from pill to liquid) and send me on my way. This first visit is about $200 to $300. After following the instructions carefully and fighting my bratty baby, he seems to get better. I keep an eye on his litter box, and while his urine clumps aren’t normal-sized, he seems to be peeing again.

One morning, I notice Linus is having trouble peeing again. I leave for work, but since I’m concerned, I leave early to take him to the ER again. They check him again, and again they say that he’s not blocked, just a UTI. The vet also tells me he possibly has FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease), which is more psychological than bacterial, where stress causes the cat to have UTI symptoms. Again, I am given the same medications, and this time I pay around $500 for this visit.

I follow the instructions for the medicine and Linus seems to get better, but then, a couple of weeks later, he is crying again either late at night. He is searching again for something soft to pee on. I take him to the ER again. They decide to hold him for a few hours for observation and testing. I’m exhausted and concerned. Unlike the previous two times, I can’t go into the ER waiting room because of the health crisis and they only do curbside. I head home until they call me to pick him up. Turns out he was a bit dehydrated and they gave him fluids. But they also say he’s not blocked. I believe I pay something like $700 for this visit.

When I get home, Linus is acting really lethargic. He’s hardly moving and looks like he’s in pain. It looks like he’s straining and making grunting noises. I call the ER and express my concerns that he is blocked. The front desk hands the phone to the vet.

ER Vet: “It sounds like he’s blocked.”

Me: “How much will it cost to unblock him?”

She tells me an amount that’s AT LEAST $2,500. I begin crying because I’m saving for a house and that would be a good chunk of my savings. When I tell her I can’t afford that, I will never forget what she says to me.

ER Vet: “Well, if you have bad credit, you can always sign up for [Medical Credit Card #1], or the vet specific [Medical Credit Card #2].”

I am beyond pissed.

Me: “My credit isn’t the issue. Could we try [medication]? Isn’t that supposed to relax the urethra?”

ER Vet: “Sure, we can try that, but it won’t help.”

I go back to the ER to get the medication and the vet tech there tells me to try an animal hospital (basically a local clinic) in a nearby town that does surgeries. This animal hospital happens to also be my mom’s vet. I thank the vet tech and make an appointment for the next morning at the animal hospital.

I take my cat to the animal hospital, where they tell me to wait in my car because of the health crisis. When I’m called in, they take me to the room and I explain everything, including the visits with the ER. The vet later comes in and does a physical exam.

Animal Hospital Vet: “Linus is definitely blocked. I’ll be able to unblock him today. I’ll get you a quote range on costs.”

When he leaves, I look at my poor baby and burst into tears. I feel like such a bad pet parent. I’m able to calm myself by the time the vet comes back. He gives me the quote range, which is something like $680 at the lowest, $720 at the highest. I start crying again and the vet and vet tech give me concerned looks.

Me: “The ER wanted to charge me over $2,500.”

Animal Hospital Vet: “$2,500 to unblock a cat? That’s ridiculous.”

I agreed for him to do the procedure, and they took my cat to the back. He explained that I needed to put him on special prescription diet food after the procedure. In addition, if he became blocked three times within a short time span, such as a year, then we might need to look at surgery that would basically turn him into a “female”; the surgery makes the male cat’s urethra shorter and wider like a female’s, which is why females don’t get blocked.

I thanked him and left. Linus was in the clinic for three days and was well after that. There was some concern expressed by the vet that Linus’s blood sugar was high and that he might be diabetic, but it turns out he’s not, luckily.

Linus now is doing well. I’ve had no more scares since. He’s on special prescription food and is happy and healthy.

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If Only She Could Hear Herself

, , , , , , | Right | August 29, 2021

Our office never stopped requiring masks to be worn, even when people began being able to get vaccinated. We have a sign — HUGE and right at eye level, but we all know clients ignore signs no matter what — that says to call us because we’re limiting the number of clients in the waiting room, but clients always jiggle the locked doorknob and/or knock on the door and don’t respond when I ask how I can help them.

The doorknob jiggles and then I hear knocking.

Me: “Yes, how can I help you?”

I’m greeted by dead silence and then knocking again. I speak much louder, in case they didn’t hear me.

Me: “Yes, how can I help you?”

More silence. And eventually, more knocking. I sigh and ask a technician to crack the door a little to see what the person needs. They open the door a few inches, and the client pushes past them, putting her cat carrier down and taking a seat. She is, at least, wearing her mask.

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, are you here for an appointment?”

Client: “Yes. I knocked several times, but no one was letting me in.”

Me: “Oh, were you not able to hear us asking if we could help you?”

Client: “I did, but I couldn’t talk through my mask.”

She’s saying this while WEARING the mask.

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The Furry Fables Of Teddy And Myrrh

, , , , , , | Friendly | August 22, 2021

My boyfriend and I are at the vet with his one-and-a-half-year-old German shepherd, Teddy, and my six-month-old kitten, Myrrh, to get them their updated vaccines.

Teddy, though an “aggressive breed,” is the sweetest, gentlest dog I’ve ever known, and he absolutely adores my cat. As a result, Myrrh has no fear of dogs and is incredibly friendly and outgoing, so while we’re waiting for our names to be called, I’m letting her sit beside me on the bench (wearing a harness and leash) instead of leaving in her carrier.

Teddy and another dog start sniffing each other, tails wagging and all, so we allow them to play a little as the owner scoots over to greet us. As we’re talking, he sees my cat sitting quietly between my partner and me and comments on how risky it is to keep the two of them in the same apartment. We happily explain that they grew up together so they have an “overbearing but loving big brother” and “fearless little sister” dynamic; she’s in no danger (save being loved to death).

The guy laughs and starts to pet Teddy, while speaking in a babying voice.

Guy: “You’re just being friendly for now, huh? But when no one’s looking, you’re going to tear that little kitty apart, aren’t you? She’s just a walking chew toy and you’re going to rip her to shreds!”

I am mortified, too shocked to respond. I’ve always loved cats but have spent more than a decade living in fear of dogs following an attack when I was a child. It took several weeks of gentle encouragement from my partner for me to trust Teddy enough that I could start conquering that fear. Needless to say, I am deeply upset at the idea of my kitten being brutally killed and my boyfriend is equally furious. 

However, before either of us can say or do anything, the jerk’s dog tries to nip at Myrrh — playfully, not aggressively, but too sudden and rough for her — which startles her, and she mewls pitifully. In an instant, Teddy’s friendliness vanishes and he shoves the dog backward, growling to warn him off while planting himself between the offender and Myrrh. Frightened by the sudden hostility, the guy’s dog cowers behind its owner, who also jumps in fear and scuttles backward.

Guy: “Hey! Y-You need to get that animal under control!”

The guy moved back to the other side of the waiting room, much to our relief. He didn’t seem to understand the irony of the situation, but from the looks of the other patrons who’d overheard the conversation, the message wasn’t lost. 

Myrrh was confused but unharmed, and when Teddy went to check on her, she started purring and grooming him, and he was back to his happy, tail-wagging self immediately. My boyfriend and I lavished praise on the pair, and Teddy got a brand-new peanut butter bone for his good behavior at the vet. It’s been almost four years since then and, though much has changed for our little family — for example, my boyfriend is now my husband — both Teddy and Myrrh are still as happy and affectionate as ever.

This story is part of our Best Of August 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of August 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of August 2021 roundup!

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Can’t Let The Cat Out Of The Bag With No Cat

, , | Healthy | August 8, 2021

I am a veterinary surgeon in the middle of a very busy consulting session. I call my next appointment in — booked as “coughing” — and a man comes into my consulting room with no pet.

Me: “Where is your cat?”

Client: “Oh, she hates travelling, so I left her at home. I thought we could just discuss what to do.”

Me: “I can’t examine, diagnose, or treat a problem without actually seeing [Cat].”

Client: “So, I need to bring her, then?”

Me: “Yes.”

Client: “…”

Me: “…”

Client: “Shall I just go, then?”

Me: “Yes, please rebook for another time and bring her with you next time.”

He left. I mean… who deliberately doesn’t bring their pet for a veterinary appointment?

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Can’t Chow Down On His Reasoning

, , , , | Right | July 22, 2021

I’m working reception at a vet’s office when I see one of our more unpleasant clients come into the lobby. He has a habit of bringing his dog in off-leash, often causing issues with our other patients. On this occasion, he does not have his dog but is carrying a metal pet food bowl. He comes up to my window and firmly places the bowl in front of me.

Me: “How can I help you today?”

Client: “Is this food okay?”

Me: “I’m sorry? I’m not quite sure what you mean.”

Client: “My dog won’t eat it.”

Me: “Oh, I see. Have you recently changed brands? Pets are creatures of habit, so they can sometimes be put off by a change in their food.”

Client: “No, it’s the same food I always feed him.”

Me: “Okay. Has he been unwell at all, or recently injured? Sometimes pain or illness can put them off their food.”

Client: “No, he’s fine. He just won’t eat this.”

Me: “I see. I’m afraid I don’t know why he won’t eat it. If you’d like, I could set you up with an appointment—”

Client: *Interrupting* “I just want to know if this food is okay. I mean, does it taste bad?”

Me: *Taken aback* “I… don’t know, sir. Have you tasted it?”

Client: “What? H***, no! I don’t eat dog food!”

Me: “Neither do I, sir, so I can’t offer an opinion.”

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