Wednesday, April 6, 2011


There is a clinic in our area that hates us. I'm not sure why, but they refuse to refer their patients to us for overnight care, instead choosing to send them to the farther away specialty clinic. SO, when we received a call from them a few days ago, letting us know they were transferring us a blocked cat, I went on high alert. The receptionist casually mentioned to our receptionist that they'd contacted "big specialty referral clinic" - but the owner wasn't going there. No mention was made of why, but I knew immediately this would be a money problem.

The owner showed up shortly thereafter with a laterally recumbent, shocky cat (body temperature was 93 degrees, heart rate was 120 beats per minute - normal being 180-200), and NO WALLET. He had no ID (required to fill out paperwork to ensure against identity theft), no finances, and no way of getting any. His cat was in extremely critical condition, essentially trying to die in front of us.

The owner was a jovial, big man - very friendly. First, he wanted to post date a check. Then he wanted to make payments. The receptionist explained that this was not possible. Meanwhile, I stood in ICU and stared at the cat, waiting for permission to proceed. We'd already put in an IV catheter and started IV fluids, in the interest of being humane. We'd also emptied his bladder.

After 45 minutes of extended discussion of his cat's life-threatening illness, the prognosis, the possibility for recurrence of the obstruction, and how severely his cat was affected, I thought we would be euthanizing him. To my surprise and delight, he finally contacted his mother, who agreed to pay the bill. We successfully unblocked his kitty and were able to keep him in the hospital for the night. In the morning, the owner gave me a high-five because he was so pleased with his cat's progress. We'd deliberately done "minimal" testing and just spent money on the treatment. Normally, a blocked cat runs about $800-1200, but we did this kitty for $500 (no bells and whistles).

Cases like that have been rare lately, but it was very, very satisfying. I saved a patient, I made an owner happy, and I was able to do it without much stress. My hope is that his kitty will continue to improve. He went to a different veterinary clinic in the morning, and I can't say I'm sorry. The vet clinic that sent him to us knew full well of his financial situation, but obviously didn't bother to appraise us of the situation. I can't say I'm surprised.

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