Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Price Lucius?

An article in USA Today last week about the costs of veterinary office care hit home. For feline caregivers, the average cost of a visit to the vet is $558.

Recently, right before the Thanksgiving holiday, our one and only Lucius became ill. Because he has been in remarkably good health (aside from long-term insecurity and other issues symptomatic of neurosis) since we rescued and adopted him eleven years ago, we knew that something was wrong when he stopped eating completely. Nothing in the Cat Lady’s bag of tricks worked: canned tuna, Gerber’s baby food, treats. Lucius shunned them all.

Dr. O. ran a full range of tests on Lucius, and the associated costs were far from inconsequential, with the total coming close to $1,000. At one point during his treatment for what was diagnosed as chronic, as opposed to acute, pancreatitis, Dr. O. suggested that Lucius might need to be hospitalized so that an IV drip could provide sustained nourishment. Two days and two nights would cost about $2,000 for starters.

I couldn’t imagine putting a price tag on Lucius’s life, yet I found myself wondering desperately if investing more of our savings could indeed buy Lucius a longer stay on earth. I also couldn’t bring myself to ask Dr. O. explicitly if pancreatitis was ultimately a death sentence for a cat, no matter the costly intervention to offer comfort.

Fate has intervened once again for Lucius and me and Cat Man. There is no other way to explain Lucius’s rapid, impressive turnaround than to say that the cat had a will to live longer, aided by a few days’ concentrated dosage of anti-pain and anti-nausea medications.

What price Lucius? No QR code is necessary. And you can’t buy gratitude of this magnitude.

Query of the Day: How do you budget for annual pet care?

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