When did the cost of taking care of an animal exceed the cost of taking care of yourself? Recently I’ve taken my cat Chase on a series of unfortunate visits to the local Animal Hospital. I say unfortunate, because I’ve spent more for Chase’s healthcare over the last six months than I have for myself over the last ten years. It’s unfathomable that a little cat could require so many tests and shots and examinations that an average visit costs between $600 and $900. For a cat! I can go to a regular doctor and pay less. (Unfortunately, my healthcare plan doesn’t consider Chase a "significant other.")
And because Chase was recently diagnosed with diabetes, I now have to give him two shots of insulin a day. Plus, all the ongoing tests he must get, the special food he has to eat, the other medicines he must take. It’s like I’m caring for an invalid parent. And while I’m very sympathetic to his situation and needs, the cost of keeping him healthy is going to put me in the poorhouse.
And diabetes isn’t the first major issue I’ve had with Chase either. I once spent over two thousand dollars for a series of tests that ultimately determined the reason for Chase’s sickly demeanor was because he had a mild case of gas. What? You couldn’t just look at him and tell me that? You had to run his blood work so many times I needed to take out a small loan just to pay for the results?
I remember when going to the vet meant a quick check-up, maybe a blood test or two, and then a nominal fee for the whole visit. You didn’t pay a Vet as much as a regular doctor because you weren’t dealing with humans, you were dealing with animals. But now the Vet has assumed a different status; a snotty sort of superiority that makes you feel guilty if you don’t want to pay for that extra urine analysis or a dissection of his stool sample. Not to mention the ridiculously high fees they charge for “waste disposal.” (How can anyone justify $7.50 for waste removal? You throw something in the trash can and you’re done. For that, you get $7.50? I should be so lucky.)
I also have a sneaking suspicion the receptionists in a Vet’s office get a sadistic pleasure when they tell you the price you'll have to pay for the visit.
“And the total for today's exam is…,” they say, inserting a huge pause before dropping the bombshell. “Ten thousand, four hundred dollars and twenty three cents.”
It’s like they get some kind of high every time they get to deliver the bad news. And if people freak out, so much the better. On one visit, I actually witnessed someone faint in front of me when the receptionist gave her the total. And after they carried the poor woman out of the reception area, I believe they added on a fee for “waste removal” as well.
So I guess the question becomes, when does your pet become more of a liability than a pleasure?