Recession Mama

{September 13, 2009}   The Cat Has What? And It’s Gonna Cost HOW Much?!

We spend a gazillion dollars (a rough estimate) each year in this country taking care of our pets. Our beloved little fur balls, our hounds…the ones who lick us relentlessly or rub their faces on our ankles…the ones who have huge chunks of our hearts. And anyone who has ever had a sick pet knows…money can become an issue. But for many pet owners, yours truly included, there is nothing we wouldn’t do for our furry children, even in this economy. Case in point: this week’s guest writer, one hell of a funny woman…Barbara, who takes us on an adventure that we all hope has a very happy ending. Here she is, in her own words:


There was a joke I loved as a kid.  It involved a very wealthy man who had little use for his family and the punchline was “He gave all his money to the Asthmatic Cat Foundation.”  I repeated the joke as often as I could.   I thought the Asthmatic Cat Foundation, or rather the idea of an asthmatic cat was the funniest thing in the world….I mean..ASTHMATIC CATS!!!  Who would have thunk it.   That is until I heard a joke about a parrot that had constipation forced upon him via a cork and asked an overweight visitor if someone was trying to make her fat too. 
This does tie in to what I’m about to tell you.  Nearly five years ago I adopted two tiny sister kittens, which, in time became cats.  Paris and Emily are Siamese mix but there’s little resemblance beyond that…


They have different color patterns and decidedly different dads as Emily is nearly twice the size of her sister…or sister-cousin, or whatever. Cats in heat are complete whores.
A few months ago Emily began doing ..something… repeatedly.  At first I thought it was one hairball she couldn’t get out..or perhaps she was choking on a piece of candy, a diet coke bottle cap…a kibble…a mouse…whatever it was…a lot.   HaaRRamphFF…BlaSCHmenPH…SHManoRIFF!!!  She sounded possessed and ended each episode with a long, pronounced swallow.  Cats can be gross.
To the vet we go! The vet suspected Emily had asthma.  Asthma! Funny!  She had a blood test and an X-ray at $150 a pop.   Once the tests came back showing this was LIKELY the case, I picked up steroid samples.  The word “samples” made me think they would be free, but these cost $17 and change.  And what the hell?  Steroids?  They bulk you up. Emily is a big, big girl, 18 pounds.  Turn her human and you’ve got a pissed off 280 pound Olympic weightlifter with acne.   
If they worked, we had proof she was indeed asthmatic, but the pills were no cure. The closest thing to that would be allergy testing with a starting price of $300.  Allergy shots are extra. Stop gaps, aside from steroids, were people antihistamines and asthma inhalants.
Stop gap number one – the ‘roids did their thing.  Her attacks stopped, and by the way, I bleed too.  Cats do not enjoy swallowing pills.  Emily got me twice with her sharp little teeth.  The second time was so nasty that I went to a clinic inside a drugstore only to be told they don’t treat animal bites.  I paid 15 bucks for a tube of Neosporin, band aids and a bottle of rubbing alcohol and went home to operate on my finger.  I define surgery as poking in the cut with rubbing alcohol sterilized tweezers.  It hurt, but within a few days I forgot about it.
After the pills ran out I moved on to phase two of Treating Emily, a steroid shot.  Cheap!  Only about 30 dollars! This was supposed to be good for two months, but didn’t work, and neither did Zyrtec, which involved more cat bites.
I called the vet and told her I wanted to go ahead, plunk down the serious cash and get my prize cat tested for allergies.  But the catch is she had to be steroid free for two months, which would mean weeks more of HAMPushSCHEE or SmushsclOTH!  It was time to get her an inhalant.
It’s easy to get a cat inhaler.  After a couple of days of phone tag, my kind vet told me to go here.
This nifty gadget cost me 70 dollars, but I needed the medicine that goes WITH it.  After more phone tag she told me to get Flovent.  I have insurance but Emily isn’t on it.  And this stuff isn’t cheap.  And you need a prescription.  She suggested two magic words  – Canadian Pharmacy. 
Here’s a fun fact – The Canadian Drugstore… ….isn’t in Canada at all.  Their customer service center, which I called, is in Barbados.  Oh man, this was one ass-whipping of a phone conversation. 
“I would like some Flovent HFA 125/120”
“How much do you weigh?”
(F#$@K Off!)
“One hundred and…(I give the indecipherable but polite Barbadian my weight…in kilograms.)
“Are you taking any other medications?”
(Like I would tell you?)
 “This isn’t for me, it’s for my cat.”
“How old are you?”
“I’m four.”
“We need a prescription.  Who is your doctor?”
(Gyno, internist, dentist?  Which one?)
“My cat’s veterinarian.”
“Today we are offering a four percent discount if you give me your checking account routing number.”
(Not in this lifetime)
 “No, thank you.”
“The medicine will be shipped from New Zealand.  Is that OK?”
It took four weeks and cost fifty dollars and Emily does not like it.  In fact she runs when I come near her with the thing. But she’s better and soon we go in for testing…and I’ll let you know how it goes.


recessionmama says:

From Heather,

This is too funny! I had a dog with a thyroid problem. We had to give him a pills everyday. It was quite a thrill following him around to make sure he didn’t spit them out. But hey… we love our pets and we’ll do anything for them. Keep us posted on what happens.

Lydia says:

yep, while in college I learned that there are such things as pet dermatologists….. They ain’t cheap…. But, my beloved Chewie (grey and white male kitty) was miserable and all his fur was falling out. So, we went to the allergy specialist/dermatologist, he did skin tests (just like you would on a human), turned out Chewie was allergic to grass, mold, dust and the dog. He never forgave me for that last one…. The good news is, the specialist (did I mention he was pricey?) mixed up a bottle of the stuff Chewie was allergic to and I gave him a weekly injection for about 6 months. He liked the shots a lot better than benadryl! He got over his allergies, grew his hair back and was a very happy kitty for another 7-8 years. Hang in there. Our little furry friends are worth it. After all, it’s just $$. Purrs and snuggles after a hard day, priceless….. 😉

Carla says:

Barbie you CRACK MY *@S UP! “Cats in heat are complete whores”! Please tell me you’ll have that put onto a t-shirt. But seriously, I’ve said this to you before, I think you are an amazing pet owner (or Mommy, as I like to call you…because she is you baby, no?) and it is so cool that you have gone to such great lengths to make sure she has the very best care you can provide. I really hope that this does the trick for her and that she lives a very long, happy life. PLEASE keep us posted. Mwah!

katychen says:

Cats in heat ARE complete whores! I’m so glad mine is now fixed.

Judy Hamburger Echenrode says:

Yes, Heather, I’ve come a long way since my dad, Mr. Hanglebur, cured our cats with a ball ping (sp?) hammer. When our THIRD dog within 18 months got hit by a car (and we watched them when outside!) BUT survived, I drove her 100 miles and carried her (80 lbs) into a dog orthopedic surgeon’s office for him to fix her broken pelvis. About $1800 later, she was almost fine (runs with a little hitch in her getty-up) and has been with us 7 more years.

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