Advances in veterinary treatments for household pets have raised an ethical question for their owners: how much are you willing to spend to keep your dog or cat healthy?

I went to the vet’s office recently to learn how to give my cat insulin shots. Like Wilford Brimley, Maeve’s got the dye-a-beet-iss — and it looks like she’ll be getting two shots a day, every day, for the rest of her life. This is not as complicated as it sounds. I had images of her wailing in pain and avoiding us like the plague for the rest of her days, coming out only when we were away from the house.

On the contrary, she barely notices when you stick her. It’s not expensive, either. One store gave us a huge box of syringes for free, and at Walmart the insulin cost a third of what CVS charges.

So that’s the new normal, and doing shots has taken on a new meaning. There was a time, not very long ago, that your pet with diabetes would just continue to have diabetes without any treatment. They would start having the side effects that come with the disease, and the downward spiral would begin.

Today pets get orthopedic surgery, cancer treatments, dental work — all sorts of fixes and therapies once reserved for humans. But like everything there is a price, and a decision to make about value, and the stark reality that some pets are blessed with deep pocketed owners, and others are not.

Honestly, I don’t know what my budget is for the pets. Is is the same for the dogs and the cats? There are no easy choices.

15 thoughts on “Catabetes

  1. My dog has cataracts. I hate the idea of her being blind or nearly-blind, but I have very poor vision, too. So which one of us gets that $3,000 for her eye surgery: the one with maybe four years left on the planet, or the one with maybe forty?

    Actually, considering my finances, the answer is “neither.”

  2. I feel your pain after doing the “right thing” in adopting a 13-week old rescue ‘forever’ dog only to have to shell out $3,400 for ACL reconstruction at 7 mos….(btw…blew it out chasing a buried walnut…)…set us back to the point that if it happens to he other knee, we are Googling E-Bay for a three-legged doggie cart… 😉

    1. Wow… good for you on making him whole again. That’s real commitment.

      By the way, if a dog gets Tommy John Surgery, is it still called Tommy John Surgery?

  3. Saw this linked over on AOA and thought I’d drop by 🙂

    Good for you for going ahead with diabetes treatment for Maeve! Most cats actually do handle it very well, and often feeding a prescription/high protein-low-carb diet like Purina DM can ultimately eliminate the need for insulin in a lot of cats. Thankfully the disease is not nearly as frightening a picture in cats as it is in humans. Plus, it’s a lot easier to get cats on a diet, since they don’t have opposable thumbs to open the refrigerator 🙂

    For pet health overall, my biggest recommendation to clients is PET INSURANCE!

    A lot of people still laugh at me when I bring it up, but honestly, I am a HUGE supporter of pet insurance these days. We can do truly incredible things for animals with modern veterinary medicine but it’s simply impossible to do it for free. Pet insurance allows me to provide the best care I’m able to give and makes it vastly easier for owners to afford it. Many plans are surprisingly affordable, as little as $75 a year for your average young adult cat. You do NEED to do your homework on plan types though- some plans provide piecemeal coverage, do not cover hereditary conditions, etc. I recommend for the best information on all plans, and recommend plans that do not have restrictions on chronic disease, cancer and genetic conditions (PetPlan and PurinaCare are a couple of good ones that I’ve found). Also, the best day to purchase pet insurance is the same day you bring home your new pet, as none of them will cover pre-existing conditions.

    Best of luck with Maeve! She’s a beautiful kitty 🙂

    1. We’re working on it… since we have three cats I think ALL of them are going on a diet; feeding them all differently would drive us nuts!

  4. Thanks for the tip on cheaper insulin at Walmart. Since you are probably giving a very small dose, the vial of insulin seems to last forever. My 16 year old cat has been living with diabetes for four years. She weighs 7 lbs, so a reducing diet is not in the cards for her.
    Be sure to keep an eye on Maeve’s dental health. Things can decline pretty quickly in that area in a cat with diabetes.
    And if you ever need to make a quick exit from a boring dinner party, “I have to go shoot the kitty” is as good an excuse as any.

  5. After having a long haierd one and a short haierd one, the long hair one sheds more and is more miserable in the heat of the summer than any short haierd one.I was smart enough to buy FRISKIES brand cat food since before the pet poison scare. I will stay with that canned food. Dry food gives my male cat urinary tract infections very painful. Cats get spayed or neutered around 6 months old. I recommend saving a life by buying a cat at the SPCA. You’ll be glad you did. They come already immunized, free of diseases, spayed or neutered (as part of the cost you pay) and they truly need love.

  6. I realize this line was not the point of the post, but I just have to say it made me laugh out loud.

    Thank you for that.

    Re: I went to the vet’s office recently to learn how to give my cat insulin shots. Like Wilford Brimley,

  7. We have spent 10’s of thousands. Yes really. Sometimes I’m actually embarassed to admit that. Five cancer surgeries – countless trips to Newburgh to the oncologist for radiation/surgery/check ups. It wasn’t something we planned – nor are we independantly wealthy (far from it) – but when you hear “we can cure this” there was no discussion.
    Now our (so close to) 14 year old Lab has outlived his life expectancy – and while he has trouble getting around sometimes – he’s a happy puppy in his soul. If I was able to do it again – I would.

    1. I dare say that my dog budget is higher than my cat budget.

      I know that we would do whatever we could for our two dogs, as lomg as their quality of life would be good.

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