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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Beth
Beth
6 years ago

Sorry to hear about Zito 🙁 It’s so hard when a pet is sick.

IMHO, we can only make decisions based on the information we have at the time. If you could have seen the future, it sounds like you would have made a different decision. But you couldn’t, and at least you know tried everything you could to help Zito.

I second the point about vets, vet surgeons and vet techs being amazing people. The ones who looked after our pets were wonderful, and loved their jobs so much even when it broke their hearts.

David Hunter
David Hunter
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

It’s never easy to lose a member of the family. 🙁 As for your question… We have a St. Bernard that has Addison’s Disease (it’s a kidney disease). He has had it from birth and we discovered he had it when he was about 6 months old. Ever since then, we have been paying over $300 a month for his shot that he needs every 28 days. The vets said he probably won’t live as long as a normal St. Bernard, but he would have a normal life as long as he got his shot. As animal lovers, we treat… Read more »

Dave
Dave
5 years ago
Reply to  David Hunter

Did you save him

Frugal Sage
Frugal Sage
6 years ago

A lot also depends on the age of the animal, and the likelihood of recovery. My aunt spent over 4k when her cat was a few years old when it was run over by a car. But when the cat was a lot older, and needed further help (I think it was for $900) the option was taken to not have the operation. I suppose if the pet was your only real companion you would go the extra yards to save them. On the other hand, if you aren’t willing to try even a little, then you probably shouldn’t have… Read more »

Ivy
Ivy
6 years ago
Reply to  Frugal Sage

Absolutely, you don’t know in advance that it won’t work. We paid twice for cancer surgery for our old cat – over $3K total, and she got 4 extra years priceless for us. But the 3rd time the cancer recurred the prognosis was not good – at most we would extend her life by a few months and she would suffer, so our choice was clear that time.

Chasa
Chasa
6 years ago

I just paid $700 to have a mast cell tumor removed from my dog. They’re generally curative with treatment, but 15% of the time they require additional treatment. When the sample went in for a biopsy I thought a lot about what I would do if my dog needed further treatment. I, too, could afford it, but some of the extraordinary measures taken for pets are, IMO, for their owners. I don’t want to torture my pet, which is what chemo is for a being that doesn’t understand why they’re so sick all the time, if the payback isn’t guaranteed.

Kate
Kate
6 years ago
Reply to  Chasa

I agree that we have to be really careful about the ethics of veterinary treatment and sometimes it can be hard for owners and vets to be decide to stop. But as a vet, I’m not sure that chemotherapy is actually a bad thing in animals. The regimes used are completely different than those in people – you never see an animal whose hair falls out which gives an idea of the differences in dosages. Chemotherapy in animals can hardly ever cure the disease but can often extend good quality life. For example a dog with cancer at 7 years… Read more »

AC
AC
6 years ago

It’s a very difficult decision to make when a pet is ill. I think most people, including myself, immediately want for the pet what they would want for themselves in that situation. Unfortunately, it seems that regularly successful procedures for humans may not be the case for a pet. Thanks for the article.

Tina in NJ
Tina in NJ
6 years ago

We recently paid $274 to extract a sewing pin my daughter’s guinea pig ate. He just pulled it out of my quilt patch and started chewing! Fortunately, it got stuck in his cheek pouch. If it had gone further, we probably would have gotten another pig. The vet even gave us the pin as a souvenir.

sarah johnson
sarah johnson
6 years ago

I paid $3500 in August to keep my 15 year old cat alive. Yes he was hospitalized for two days to fight two serious infections and on a feeding tube for a week after I brought him home. He loved the feeding tube! He has kidney problems which will probably kill him someday. But, I am glad I did this. He is the sweetest, cuddliest cat. Since being sick, he has even begun playing again. I more that got my money’s worth and have not regretted one penny spent.

Dave @ The New York Budget
Dave @ The New York Budget
6 years ago

I think you hit the nail on the head. It is all about the quality of life after the procedure. I would have dropped the $3k as well if the pet was young, had an unexpected condition, and the vets assured me that after the procedure, the pet could live a healthy life. If the pet was old and there was a strong chance that after the procedure it would still suffer, I would weigh my options a bit more. It would be a very tough call, but I think in many cases, I would have to put the pet… Read more »

Mrs. PoP
Mrs. PoP
6 years ago

That’s how we feel, too. Or if not put the animal down, then allow for pain medication that makes the last weeks of life as pain free as possible.

Sam
Sam
6 years ago

Depends on age and quality of life. Our last dog had cancer at age 8 and I paid quite a bit for surgery at that time. Vet warned me it would come back and it did at age 14. But that first surgery gave him 5 more good years of life. His last year was an old dog year, not getting around very well, but still happy. When we got the second cancer diagnosis, at that point, he was an old, old dog (big dog) he was not happy, not eating, not enjoying life. Besides the x-ray to diagnose that… Read more »

Ros
Ros
6 years ago
Reply to  Sam

Assuming you can actually afford the treatment, age and quality of life are, I think, the keys to the decision, along with whether it’s likely to be a recurring issue needing regular treatments. For example, when my cat was 5, he got a urinary blockage. Emergency surgery (on a Sunday night…) hospitalization, etc… end bill was about 1200$. I’m fine with paying that on a relatively young cat (that I love to bits) for a condition that’s easily controlled and not likely to be recurrent. That said, there’s nothing wrong with shopping prices for non-urgent care: the same cat, now… Read more »

Piolin
Piolin
6 years ago

Hello I know the feeling. I had to put my cat to sleep because of diabete just 2 months ago. But she was over 17yo and I didn’t bring her to the vet in 5 years. I knew she was sick, but she was happy. Giving her shots everyday would have made her life maybe longer but miserable. I knew her so well. So I decided that she was going to have a shorter life (although 17 years is pretty good already), but a happy life. and she did. I felt guilty for a while though. If you hadn’t done… Read more »

Jennifer B
Jennifer B
6 years ago
Reply to  Piolin

I don’t question your decision at all, but wanted to point out to others who may find out that their cats have diabetes that it’s quite manageable – just as it is in humans. My mother had a cat that received twice daily insulin injections for 8 years after a diabetes diagnosis. The cat tolerated the injections easily and his quality of life once on insulin was great. The only issue is in finding cat sitters who are comfortable doing the injections when you have to go out of town. It can be more than a neighbor is willing to… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
6 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer B

Second this. My diabetic cat was quite tolerant of her shots. She would jump up on the back of the couch so you didn’t have to bend over!

Leah
Leah
6 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer B

I had a diabetic cat that both hated her shots and didn’t respond well to them. I had to hand feed her to get some food in. I would smear wet baby food on her nose, and she licked it off.

I was a senior in high school. I kept up with the shots until Christmas so my brother could see his cat one more time (he was in the Marines at the time). After that, we had to let her go. I don’t know why, but her body just did not tolerate the insulin.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
6 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer B

This! I offered to cat-sit the downstairs neighbors’ cat — she was 17 years old and I thought that the kennel would be awfully tough on her. The day before they left I went down to get the drill: food, water, et al. “You don’t have a problem with needles, do you?” I was asked. “Rosie needs insulin shots.” As a matter of fact, I’m needle-phobic! Horrified of the things. Boy, did I feel bait-and-switched — could they have mentioned this at the time I offered to cat-sit, maybe?!? — but it was so late in the day I felt… Read more »

Amanda
Amanda
6 years ago

I am no a pet person but one of my best friends is and she went through this painful decision process as well. Something happened to her dog that caused it to lose the use of her back legs. This occured while the dog was being looked after by responsible pet-knowledgable family members. She took the dog to the hospital and was concerned she would have to put the dog down or that if she asked the dog to be operated upon she was doing it for herself and not the dog. The vet mentioned to her the dog’s extremely… Read more »

Brian
Brian
6 years ago

Our first consideration with all of our pets was always trying to understand what is best for the animal. I don’t think we ever made a decision based on cost. However, taking the animal’s needs first does not necessarily mean using aggressive medical treatments – it often means the opposite. Pets can’t understand why they’re being poked, prodded, caged, abandoned, and cut open. From their perspective, the whole experience must be torture. For us to put our animals through that, we must have some reasonable assurance that what awaits them on the other side is worth the torment. In our… Read more »

lmoot
lmoot
6 years ago

I spent over the course of several months over $500 on my Leopard Gecko for special food, lab tests, exams, and medications. Yes people thought I was crazy (including those who spent much more on their cats and dogs). Snoopy is my ride-or-die chick though…they don’t understand. I raised her from a baby and she was nearly 10 years old when she got sick. She was there with me all the way through college, 2 break-ups, and 7 moves. She had a serious infection that started in her mouth (likely from shed skin that was stuck in the corner of… Read more »

lmoot
lmoot
6 years ago
Reply to  lmoot

I want to add that I will probably never own a cat or dog. I have my lizzy (the Snoops), a cockatiel and male Eclectus parrot. Part of it is personal choice, but also a financial decision as well. It seems that it’s mostly cats and dogs that develop expensive problems, and more common….to the point that it seems inevitable, especially towards the end of their lives, which are far too short IMO. I prefer hardier, longer-lived pets. All 3 of my boo boos have a L.E. of 20+ years. Another reason I love parrots! Also furry friends are not… Read more »

Beverly Harzog
Beverly Harzog
6 years ago

Ellen, I’m so sorry you had to say goodbye to Zito. It’s really difficult to make a decision when your pet is extremely ill. It’s hard to let go.

My dog had a brain tumor last year. He was almost 17 so the decision to let go was obvious. But it was still hard. We do the best we can with the information we have. In the end, our beloved pets know we cared and gave them our best.

Ellen
Ellen
6 years ago
Reply to  Beverly Harzog

Thanks, Beverly. I am so thankful for everyone’s stories here. Now you have the wonderful Marshall too!

Mike
Mike
6 years ago

Our little girl had two back operations a couple of years ago to relieve pain due to disc issues, and the procedures left her paralyzed from the chest down. She’s going on 14 now, and has adapted to a wheelchair (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikekoch/7168286611). She’s still feisty and full of life, so we have no regrets over the cost, which were quite high (>5k). As long as her quality of life is good and she’s pain-free, we’ll do whatever is necessary. We have children of our own, so she’s our baby.

Aaron
Aaron
6 years ago

I spent $800 to have a bladder stone removed from my guinea pig. Despite the successful removal, my guinea pig did not survive.

I still feel torn about the situation. I guess it was damned if you do, damned if you don’t thing. But I’m glad I gave him a chance. It taught me to understand the vulnerability of these precious animals.

PB
PB
6 years ago

35 years ago, when we were a young married couple in graduate school and very, very poor, one of our gerbils developed a tumor. We took it to the vet (which we couldn’t afford), and in spite of the vibe I got that he thought we should just hit it on the head, he gave it a shot to put it down and only charged us a dollar (which was our entire money on hand at the time). I think that he was willing to lose money on the deal because we were both crying at the time. It was… Read more »

Virginia
Virginia
6 years ago

I think you went with your best instincts – which were noble and not affected by money – and you should not second-guess that. In the end, you did what you could, which is better than doing nothing. And she knew that.

JBP
JBP
6 years ago

Interesting article since I was the “bad parent” who didn’t want to spend almost $2000 to fix a dog that ran away the minute we brought it home. We were able to get close to her but she would not let us catch her. A few days later she ran in front of a car and broke her legs. I just can’t justify spending so much money to help a dog that really didn’t want to be part of our family. The vet is working with a rescue group but I assume she might also be put down. I struggle… Read more »

Ely
Ely
6 years ago
Reply to  JBP

Why did you bring the dog home in the first place?

Lis
Lis
6 years ago
Reply to  JBP

There’s a big difference between an animal and a pet. When a pet wiggles their way into your heart, they truly do become part of the family. It’s a difficult feeling to explain, to love a pet so much, if you’ve never felt it before. Perhaps that’s why you call it irrational. In my 23 years I’ve watched my parents make that decision to put down two dogs and seven cats (big pet lovers here). I’m now on my own with two cats, both five years old, both healthy, but I dread the day when I’ll have to make any… Read more »

EMH
EMH
6 years ago

My heart aches reading your story. I am so sorry for your loss. For me, the cost isn’t a factor but the quality of life. Unfortunately, you don’t know what the quality of life is going to be after a surgery so it is a gamble. But life is a gamble. I called my cat the “Ferrari of Felines” because I spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on treating her. She had asthma, torn ACL and so many other issues would constantly arise but I don’t regret it. I know you spent a lot of money on Zito but all… Read more »

Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial
Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial
6 years ago

So sorry that you lost Zito – I teared up reading your post. If we are ever in this situation (we have three kitties), we have decided not to put our pets through any serious surgery or treatment requiring a major recovery period. I feel like it would be too traumatic, especially for a cat, and unfair – I can’t explain to them that we are trying to help, and they won’t understand what is happening. We would try and lessen their suffering and put them down if necessary or allow them to live out their lives naturally if possible,… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
6 years ago

I am with others who have said quality of life is the most important thing. I had a young-ish cat (8 years old) develop diabetes, which is expensive for anyone but boy when you buy insulin without insurance you are in for a shock! We got 4 good years with that, though we had to manage other infections and teeth problems. She was sweet and laid-back and I think had a good quality of life until she developed insulin resistance, at which point we let her go. My cat Max who died over the summer was pretty inexpensive by comparison.… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
6 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Oh, I guess Max did also get vitamin B shots. But those were pretty cheap and easy also.

Miss Growing Green
Miss Growing Green
6 years ago

There is no monetary limit to what I would spend on a sick pet. That bring said, it would depend on the likelihood of success of the procedure, and their quality of life afterwards. If they were facing a very painful, slow recovery process and they weren’t going to have a good quality of life afterwards, I wouldn’t put them through the procedure, regardless of the cost. But if they were young and healthy- I wouldn’t spare any expense. We actually have health insurance for our dog- catastrophic coverage only, so that we never have to make the kind of… Read more »

Wayne King
Wayne King
6 years ago

I’m not sure of my threshold. Its something north of the $1,500 is spent on my 8 year old Australian Shepherd. She needed surgery to remover stones in her bladder. She is now on a special diet to keep them from forming again.

Each case has its own set of circumstances. In this case, its a one time expense and I get many more years with my healthy girl, Katy.

Becky @ RunFunDone
Becky @ RunFunDone
6 years ago

I have not had to face this before, but I would want to consider: 1) the likelihood of full recovery and 2) how comfortable the pet will be during recovery. Even if the surgery was affordable, I wouldn’t put my dog through it if her chances of recovery were low, or if she wouldn’t be happy.

mike
mike
6 years ago

I will be the contrarian here. Personally I believe if you have the money do whatever you want. The big issue is the vast majority of people don’t have the extra money to take care of these pet issues. I have seen this countless times with my family and friends. When I say extra money, I don’t mean your emergency funds, credit cards, delayed saving for retirement, borrowing from others, etc… But yet due to the emotional attachment I have watched many people stay broke for decades due to animals (and other decisions)and these aren’t outliers or extreme examples. We… Read more »

PawPrint
PawPrint
6 years ago
Reply to  mike

I’m not clear about what “lifetime benefits” for “bad behavior” you’re talking about?

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
6 years ago

I will also say that for me, the ability to rescue shelter animals is very important. So while it is sad to lose an animal, I want to be in a position to rescue another. I wish Max was still around, but I am glad I had the opportunity to save Lucky Cat, who was statistically one of the unlikeliest cats to be adopted (because he is black and was a full-grown adult) but who is awesome.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Black cats rule!

cherie
cherie
6 years ago

Such a hard situation In my house, pets are family. Which is why I only have one . . . who cost me nearly $4k this summer due to a bizarre allergic reaction that took nearly 2 months to resolve [and still no clue what it was from]. I’ve spent loads on pets before too. But I will say that while it hurt, it was money I COULD spend without really having to make major life changes, and the times I felt best about it were the times there was the best possibility of recovery. The last pet we had… Read more »

Carla
Carla
6 years ago

I hate to say it but this article sealed my decision not to have a pet. At 35 I never had one. Growing up my parents didn’t want to “deal with it” and this followed me into adulthood.

I thought about maybe getting a cat to keep me company or even an assistant dog but I’m now scared straight.

I think you did the right thing at the time. You had no way of knowing how it would end and I definitely understand that, especially since your cat was so young.

Ely
Ely
6 years ago
Reply to  Carla

I have to agree with you. If not for my husband, I would not have animals – I could not handle the responsibility on my own. I have enough trouble keeping house plants alive.

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  Ely

Ha ha, I can’t keep house plants alive too. I think if I didn’t have to devote so much money towards my health, a pet (and other things) may be a consideration.

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Carla

Pet ownership isn’t for everyone — even those of us who love animals! I don’t have the time or space for one of my own, but I’ll happily play with other people’s pets and pet sit 😉

Joyce
Joyce
6 years ago

you are not the only one. The money i spend on my cat can buy a nice new car but i love my cat more than a nice new car!!

CV
CV
6 years ago

I would have done the same thing in your situation with Zito based on the info in your post. I’m sorry it didn’t end positively. I’ll cast my vote for quality of life too. I think of it in terms of whether it’s an illness or problem that spending an upfront big amount of money will reasonably correct for the next several years, and the pet is likely to have a good, mostly normal life afterwards (like say surgery to remove some kind of stone or a blockage – there’s a good chance the animal will be just fine and… Read more »

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
6 years ago

So sorry about Zito, Ellen. She was a cutie. I would’ve spent the money without a second thought, too. Our pets are like family members, thus I’d give them every opportunity to survive, as I would a member of my family. But then again, they’re not people. They don’t recover the same way; their lives aren’t structured the same way. And it makes me sad to think about it, but sometimes letting go is the best thing you can do for them. My parents recently made that decision with our family dog, Max, and it was really painful. We had… Read more »

Veronica
Veronica
6 years ago

I had a similar decision to make about my Scottish terrier back in the ’80s. I had him in for kidney failure and he was about to go in for dialysis ($1,000 per day). The vet said that he could throw a blood clot and died at any minute even with the dialysis. He passed before the procedure was performed. I felt terrible – the pain and guilt were overwhelming at the time. … I recently spoke to an “animal psychic”. She said that animals don’t feel the same way about death that we do. In nature, they stop eating,… Read more »

PawPrint
PawPrint
6 years ago

I am so sorry about Zito–a heartbreaking experience for everyone. Our 15 year old cat was diagnosed with a thyroid tumor, requiring radiation treatment. The total bill was over $1K, which is the number I’d always set as what I’d be willing to pay to treat a pet. However, we agreed to the treatment because we love this cat, our remaining pet out of four dogs and three cats, and without treatment, she would have died a rather awful death, according to all the information I looked at online. She’s doing well, luckily. Over a decade ago, we had a… Read more »

Samantha
Samantha
6 years ago

Sorry to hear about your experience. Our situation is that we only have one pet – a wonderful dog – and no children. We have a large emergency fund, and debt free except the mortgage, which should be paid off this year. When we were filling out the paperwork for the doggy kennel farm where we left our dog while we were on our honeymoon, one of the questions was “How much do you authorize us to spend to try to save your dog in the event of an emergency?” It caught me off-guard to say the least, and sparked… Read more »

Juli
Juli
6 years ago

Whenever I read articles like this, it just reinforces how much I am NOT a pet person. I am way too cheap to be ok with spending the amounts of money many of you have mentioned.

Shannon @ Financially Blonde
Shannon @ Financially Blonde
6 years ago

I think it depends on the situation. We had a cat whose kidneys started to fail and he was already 16 and we knew his quality of life would be poor. However, we had another cat who needed a massive teeth cleaning and removal that cost us $500, but we felt as though he would be better off and have a better quality of life after and he did.

Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
6 years ago

I would spend a good amount on our dogs. We got out first dog right before my dad passed away, so I am definitely very much attached to her. It would also depend on what the vet would say – I would take and value their advice.

Charlie @ Our Journey To Zero Debt
Charlie @ Our Journey To Zero Debt
6 years ago

I’m willing to pay whatever to make sure my dog stays healthy. She’s definitely part of the family. She’s going to turn 5 next month and my wife thinks we should get pet insurance.

Pamela | Hands on Home Buyer
Pamela | Hands on Home Buyer
6 years ago

So sorry for your experience. And I’m sorry Zito was not helped by the surgery. It’s hard to know and we’re all just doing the best we can. I worry about bringing money into these decisions too much. They complicate already tough choices. If I have the money, does that mean I’m a bad caregiver if I don’t opt for expensive and invasive treatment? If I don’t have the money, will my pet die for something as crass as finances? And because vet care is advancing and costs are rising, vets feel the need to have long serious talks about… Read more »

Diane C
Diane C
6 years ago

I can’t believe that in 47 comments (so far), no one has mentioned pet insurance. Ellen, I’m sorry for your loss, but I hope you have purchased it for Mikey.

Jennifer Roberts
Jennifer Roberts
6 years ago
Reply to  Diane C

Was typing as you wrote that! I’ve found that pet insurance isn’t very popular among the frugal/personal finance crowd, but I wouldn’t choose to have a dog without it.

Marie
Marie
6 years ago
Reply to  Diane C

We had pet insurance, and they gave us excuses for every claim we filed. After playing those games with two separate companies, we decided the whole idea is a scam, and started setting aside money ourselves for pet emergencies.

Lisa
Lisa
4 years ago
Reply to  Marie

Sadly, it generally is a scam, like human dental insurance. A vet I very much respect told me that there were about one or two good pet insurance companies that were actually worth the money and yielded a decent ROI, but they were incredibly prohibitive with the animals they’d accept under coverage in the first place. Our rescue dog, who was basically sick from day one, wouldn’t have been accepted because she would have been considered to have “pre-existing conditions”. Pet insurance (let alone *human* medical insurance for one’s family!) is just not a feasible opportunity for many of us,… Read more »

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
6 years ago

I have an old-fashioned or maybe “rural” view on pets and animals that a lot of people nowadays think of as possibly insensitive, or maybe almost cruel, even, but animals are not people. The author says:

“I do have enough sense not to go into debt for something I can’t afford.”

Well, hell, I’d go into debt for something I couldn’t afford if I were trying to save my daughter. But a cat? I might spend $1,000 on a cat if I had the money available. But I only care so much about cats.

Carla
Carla
6 years ago

My husband would agree with you, Tyler. Having grown on a farm, they’ve had nothing by animals in their lives and seen many die and they also ate their fair share. He has affection and respect for animals but would never spent an exorbitant amount of money on them.

My father was a sharecropper who raised a animals for food and would agree.

I guess its a cultural difference.

Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life
Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life
6 years ago

It may sound heartless, but I don’t understand the logic behind pouring all that money into a pet. I had pets growing up, but as an adult, who can barely support myself, it irks me that people who claim to be struggling and have no money have pets.

Kim H.
Kim H.
6 years ago

I opted not buy Pet Insurance…everything I have read says you are better off taking those premiums and putting them in a “pet fund” account for any future issues. I do know some people feel more secure having it and since this is an emotional and financial issue, that probably makes sense. Also, many policies exclude “common” ailments based on breed. I have a labrador that I paid $10 to rescue…but $2500 for TPLO (knee surgery). She was only 2 at the time and active, so I feel it was well worth it to see her regain her mobility. My… Read more »

Jennifer Roberts
Jennifer Roberts
6 years ago

I know there is much debate as to whether pet insurance is a wise financial choice or not, but I did decide to sign up when we adopted our dog, Ringo, a couple years ago. I did not want to have to choose to put him down before his time just because I couldn’t afford an expensive medical bill. We have very good coverage, and if there was some kind of emergency that cost thousands, the vast majority would be reimbursed. Without pet insurance I would not be willing or able to spend thousands on a pet, and therefore I… Read more »

Mathias
Mathias
6 years ago

We’ve spent upwards of $25,000 on one of our cats. We found him one morning under the bed with a deflated eye. Turns out he carried the feline herpes virus which went active in him. Conjunctivitis and an ulcer ensued. He had his first eye surgery that day. He was five. The next two years were rough. We learned to manage the condition but he had multiple ups and downs. He’s had two more major surgeries and one minor. In time we figured out that he also has a food allergy, which led to further health issues. I remember one… Read more »

Benjamin
Benjamin
6 years ago

First, my condolences to you. It’s never easy to euthanize a pet. Now my two stories. The first story. The first dog I had to euthanize was “my dog”. He was the dog I had had since I was six. He is the dog I still compare all other dogs to. When he was 13, he had a stoke (probably not the first) and was not going to have a good quality of life after. It wasn’t a money decision. My parents would have paid to fix him if he could be fixed. But talking with the vet, it was… Read more »

G Jane
G Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  Benjamin

That is exactly what I’ve done! I’ve now had a dog for one year (and she fills my days with glee!). Just two months after getting her, I had to bring her to the animal ER (apparently, she ate a stick. I never said she was smart). I ended up spending roughly $300 on that visit and while I was there I started reading up on pet insurance. And then I thought to myself “If I just go ahead and put that exact amount I’d be spending per month into a special account just for her, it’ll practically be the… Read more »

Grayson @ Debt Roundup
Grayson @ Debt Roundup
6 years ago

Sorry to hear about the loss of Zito. My wife and I dropped $9,000 to keep our dog around. He got into a fight and ended up losing a leg. We didn’t know it was going to cost so much, but after three days in specialty care, that was the total. We made the best decision we could. He almost died, but now he is just like his old self, minus a leg. It was a hard amount to swallow at first, but we paid it off over time.

Jane
Jane
6 years ago

$9,000 for three days of “specialty care”? I’m going to bring up how shocking this and other numbers in the comments are. Shouldn’t the exorbitant rates of animal hospitals be part of this discussion? I delivered a baby and spent two nights in the hospital, and the bill even before the negotiated rate kicked in was less than that! What kind of equipment and staff do these “specialty pet clinics” have to justify that price? I’m with others on here who take a different approach. My cat is lovely and I treat him well (i.e. I feed him and scoop… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane

The rates aren’t that exorbitant. Good friends of mine are vet techs and cringe every time people say that. Yes, it’s important to shop around — but it’s also important to realize that medical care for any being is expensive. In Canada at least, we don’t know see the cost of our own health care so it’s hard to compare to an animal’s care.

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Beth, I know for a fact that it cost less for each of my children’s deliveries in a top-rated hospital than it did for this particular dog’s hospital stay. Here in the U.S., you get the actual bill with the amount listed, so it’s not hidden. Can you or anyone else explain to me how the care of a dog for a discreet amount of time can cost more than the care of two humans (mother and infant) in a hospital environment for the same amount of time? I don’t expect vets to work for free or a pittance, but… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

@Jane – I think you might be comparing apples to oranges here. A traumatic amputation likely required emergency surgery, tests, and close monitoring afterwards. I suspect if a human went through the same ordeal it would cost a lot more than $9000. You can’t really compare that to a human birth (without complications). Most pets give birth at home so that’s a lot cheaper than a human delivery. 🙂 But seriously, a lot of times people complain about the cost of surgery for their pets (in the thousands), but a comparable human surgery is far more expensive (often in the… Read more »

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

That’s a good point, Beth. I also thought of that later in the evening that my comparison was certainly not apples to apples. I think my larger struggle is with the implications of these numbers. I did a little research, and within the veterinary field, technological advances, equipment and an overall raising of the level of care have dramatically increased the prices over the past few decades. This goes along with the overall perception of most GRS commenters that their treatment and overall perception of their pets mirrors the way they would treat and perceive a human. It’s only logical… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

@Jane – I’m learning a lot too 🙂 And curious about a few things I hadn’t thought about before! Just to clarify, I meant vet techs (veterinary technicians — the people who assist vets) earn less than nurses — though I wonder how vets salaries compare to doctors here in Canada? Hmmm. I totally agree with you about how medical advances and prevention raise overall costs and I think there’s increasing pressure for owners as a result. When my parents were growing up, I think it was easier to know when to say good-bye and people weren’t left wondering “what… Read more »

Lisa
Lisa
4 years ago
Reply to  Beth

This is a very interesting point! I see a lot of comments from people on forums who are from the UK and Canada, and I mean absolutely no offense to them, but since they won’t be getting a bill for their own medical care, I’d imagine it’s a bit more difficult to gauge what reasonable pet care should cost.

M
M
6 years ago

Ellen, After raising and losing a fair number of livestock that became like pets to me, here is one thing I’ve learned. Their shorter lifespans force us to consider our own mortality. I know I grieved hard for an old rabbit I had because he was my 20s. Both those years and my bunny were gone.

Lisa
Lisa
6 years ago

Over Christmas my eight year old rescue Lab managed to swallow a small rubber object and some other small item, creating a blockage in her stomach and upper intestine. Since it was a one-time thing and recovery was expected to be total, I paid the $6,000 for the surgery. Ouch. Had it not been an emergency, and at night, I would have shopped around. My own vet could undoubtedly have done it more cheaply, but her clinic doesn’t do emergency surgery. So my dog ended up going to the pricey all-hours veterinary hospital. They did a wonderful job and she’s… Read more »

Bee
Bee
6 years ago

My opinion will not be popular.

IMO my beloved cat’s life is precious to me, but she is not more valuable in the grand scheme of things than any other cat. If I was told her medical care would cost more than $1k, I would put her down and donate that $1k to a shelter where it could be used to save 100 cats.

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