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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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