How much are you willing to spend to save a sick pet?

This article is by managing editor Ellen Cannon.

Four years ago, my beloved kitty Zito developed kidney problems. She was only five years old, and her littermate, Mikey, was fine and healthy. But Zito had stopped eating and wasn't drinking much water. I took her to the vet.

An x-ray by the veterinarian showed that one of her kidneys was tiny and the other was not the normal size it should have been. The vet said most likely the little kidney wasn't functioning at all and the other was working overtime.

I took Zito to a veterinary specialty hospital to get her checked out, and they said they might be able to repair her kidney with surgery. I could afford it — even though it was a LOT of money, about $3k) — and I didn't want to lose my kitty. I chose to have the surgery. And no, I didn't have pet insurance.

The surgery went well and I visited her at the hospital for the next week as she was recuperating. Then she was ready to come home. She had a feeding tube in, and I learned how to feed her through that with the special liquid food she needed.

When I brought her home, Mikey began hissing and growling at her. I wound up having to lock Zito in my bedroom to take care of her and keep Mikey away. It was very stressful, but I managed to take care of Zito for four days. And then she refused to let me feed her. She bit me. She wouldn't use the litter box. She pulled out her feeding tube.

As I drove her back to the specialty vets, I knew I couldn't take care of her any longer and that the whole situation was making her more miserable than helping her. The vet surgeon sat with me for a long while as I cried and tried to get up my courage to put her down.

(Aside: The surgeons and the vet techs at Palm Beach Veterinary Specialists were phenomenal. The surgeon called me every morning before I left for work to tell me how Zito had done through the night. After Zito died, I got personal cards and letters from all of the vets and vet techs, even my regular vet. I've said often since then, if I ever need surgery, I'm going to PBVS for my care!)

Looking back, I shouldn't have put Zito through this. I should have accepted that her kidneys were failing, and let her be home, play with Mikey, eat whatever food she wanted until she passed away on her own.

This was a situation where having the money to do something proved to be the wrong thing to do, and probably clouded my judgment. If I hadn't been able to afford the surgery, I wouldn't have done it. I do have enough sense not to go into debt for something I can't afford. And Mikey is still with me.

So, readers, what lengths and expense would you go to in order to save a pet?

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