On pets, vets, and money.

Well, the update is that we came very close to losing Milo. Again. I took him back into the vet yesterday because he was showing no signs of improvement from Tuesday and actually seemed a little worse. Once I got him there he had a freak-out in the office when they tried to pick him up to weigh him and it was clear that he was very, very sick again.

The vet told me that our best chance was taking him to the emergency vet (which is also a specialty vet) for a blood transfusion. So, I rushed him there and when we got there they whisked him away saying he was in “acute distress” and they needed to start working on him right away. B left work and met me there, and we had to say goodbye to him while he was all trussed up in an oxygen incubator.

The procedure itself was somewhat dangerous, introducing foreign blood into a cat with an already weak system. But luckily he came through it and doesn’t seem to be rejecting the new blood. I was able to pick him up this morning and take him back to his regular vet for monitoring.

I was so relieved just to see him. I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about him (or much the past few nights, to be honest– worrying about him). He seemed perked up already, he wasn’t crying anymore, wasn’t struggling for breath, and when I pet him he purred and head-butted me (his signature move).

The whole thing is so scary because this isn’t something we’ll cure. He will have this forever probably(autoimmune hemolytic anemia, if you’re interested). The vet said that she has had cats with this before that do live full and healthy lives, it is just a matter of getting his medication levels right and a bit of luck. I’m so hopeful that this is his last “attack” of this and that from here on out we’ll be able to manage it with just medication and check-ups. It’s a big fingers-crossed sort of thing.

But the big thing I’m learning from all this (or maybe not so much learning as remembering) is how much pets become a part of your family. I think everyone’s commitment to their pets is different depending on their circumstances, and it probably depends on whether you have “real” kids or not too… but I’m realizing that to us, there is nothing we wouldn’t do for them.

This whole ordeal has not been cheap. Up until this week I’d estimate we’ve spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $600 on this problem, and this morning I signed a credit card receipt at the e-vet for almost $1,200. Yes, ouch. And I haven’t yet paid our regular vet for yesterday’s or today’s services… not to mention all of the upcoming visits, re-checks, bloodwork, and meds.

But really? This is why we have savings. When I got the bill I felt shocked for about 10 seconds, and after that I’ve felt nothing but grateful. B and I are very lucky to make pretty good salaries for our age, and we work really hard to keep to a budget and put a good chunk of money into savings every month. We have often gotten some flack about this. Mostly from our families. People have thought us stingy for being so tied to our budget, and my mom in particular never understands how I can be a lawyer and yet tell her I don’t have any money left in my budget to go shopping or get a pedicure with her. I get that not everyone prioritizes saving as much as we do (and certainly not everyone is as lucky as we are to be ABLE to save money if we budget wisely). But to me, I find a lot of security in seeing the balance in our savings account creep up monthly.

And this is why. The vet bills? They suck. But we have it. It isn’t going to make us late on our car payments. It isn’t going to wipe out or savings. We save that money for emergencies, and this qualifies. I’d rather have Milo than a vacation next year. I’d rather have him than a new bed for the guest room. I’d rather have him than a patio in our back yard. I can’t think of anything I’d rather spend the money on. And so I am grateful that I married a person who values savings like I do, and who doesn’t complain about sticking to a budget even when it sucks. And I’m grateful that our kitty might get to come home tonight.

(One of my favorite pics of Milo. Even though the quality is terrible, this is 100% his personality. Can’t you just see him saying, “Oh, hi there.”)


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