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Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 09:46 AM   #1
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Tough Spending Decision

I am facing a spending decision where my head is telling me one thing and my heart is telling me the opposite.

Our pet cat, Pyewacket, is 13 years old and has been on medication for a hyperactive thyroid for 2 years. Over that time we have reached a level of mutual comfort where he accepts the twice a day administration of his pill by me or my wife with a minimum of fuss. The cat is not particularly friendly or affectionate even toward us and has always reacted very negatively to strangers. Despite this, we love the cat and greatly enjoy his company and antics. Prior to his requiring medication we were able to leave him in the house with food and water when we traveled and just have a neighbor come in every few days. Last year we tried leaving him with my daughter, who no longer lives with us, but who grew up with Pye. He would not allow her to give him his pill no matter what she tried. He was very aggressive toward her when she tried. Since then we have tried to board him with two different vets. The first one called us while we were away for permission to sedate him. Last week we tried boarding him at another animal hospital. When we went to pick him up after four days there they told us that they were unable to medicate him and that they would not accept him for boarding in the future due to the "danger he presented to the safety of their staff". They even asked us to get him out of the cage ourselves and into his carrier! The vet also told us that he was so stressed in that environment that it was cruel to keep him there.

The vet told us that there was a treatment available for his thyroid condition involving the use of radiation to destroy the benign thyroid tumor that causes the prodution of excess throid hormone. After the treatment he would not need any medication, so we could leave him at home while we travel with just a pet sitter to give him food and water and clean the litter box. He is perfectly happy staying home by himself. The problem is that this treatment costs $1250!!!

I am really struggling with this decision. The alternative is euthanizing poor Pye before our next trip at the end of June. This seems pretty drastic but with anyone else but us, he cannot be handled and I cannot see foregoing travel for as long as he lives. On the one hand, based on my long standing LBYM lifestyle, I cannot see spending that kind of money on a cat. On the other hand, we can afford that amount with no real long term impact on our overall finances. Right now I am leaning toward having the treatment done and the cost be damned. We love the cat and would miss him terribly. But this voice in the back of my head keeps saying: "are you crazy? that's money that could go into a grandkid's college fund" or some other equally important use.

I value the opinions and experiences of those on this board. What would you do?

Grumpy
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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 09:53 AM   #2
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

We have small dogs and know what they mean to us.

While walking our dogs we met a woman who told us the story of her older pet.

They started with around a $2k operation, then additional procedures were required... The total came to over $9k. An then the pet died anyway. That got us to thinking about what we would do in such a situation.

These type decisions occur with people as well. Do you spend $300k (or more) to keep your 80 tyear old grandmother alive ?? Knowing that nobody in the family can really afford it.

There is no right answer here. You'll have to make the decision all by yourself.
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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 09:54 AM   #3
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpy

I am really struggling with this decision.* The alternative is euthanizing poor* Pye before our next trip at the end of June. This seems pretty drastic but with anyone else but us, he cannot be handled and I cannot see foregoing travel for as long as he lives.* On the one hand, based on my long standing* LBYM lifestyle, I cannot see spending that kind of money on a cat. On the other hand, we can afford that amount with no real long term impact on our overall finances.* Right now I am leaning toward having the treatment done and the cost be damned.* We love the cat and would miss him terribly.* But this voice in the back of my head keeps saying: "are you crazy?* that's money that could go into a grandkid's college fund" or some other equally important use.

I value the opinions and experiences of those on this board.* What would you do?

* *Grumpy
Grumpy, what was the last time $1250 would buy you peace of mind and comfort for a family member at the same time?

I consider my pets to be family members and it sounds like you do too. *Do you have the money and could you comfortably spend it without any hardship on your part? *If so, I would be spending my time researching the possible side effects of the procedure rather than sweating out a relatively small sum of money.
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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 09:58 AM   #4
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

Poor crabby old thing.

How long are you leaving for in June?* If* the cat didn't get his medication in that time period would it be a big risk?*

(If it was my dog Judy, I would do the treatment)
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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:00 AM   #5
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

Tough situation. Pets have a way of worming their way into your soul.

Point of information: following radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism there is a high incidence of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid from radiation effect). This is easy to treat with thyroid supplements, but you would then still have to give the cat pills and get occasional blood tests. Hate to see you spring for the $1250 then find you had to give the cat pills forever anyway.

Re: Martha's question - it is ok for skip treatment for a few days, but much longer than that can begin to get dangerous. At least in homo sapiens (not sure about cattus meowus).

Good luck with your decision.
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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:01 AM   #6
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
Poor crabby old thing.
Before I read further I thought you were posting about Greg.

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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:05 AM   #7
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

If it were me, I'd do like Brewer said, do the research then decide. In the end I'd probably have it done unless like Martha says it causes another problem needing medication.

Is there a way to put the medication in the food or maybe a treat?
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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:09 AM   #8
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Tough situation. Pets have a way of worming their way into your soul.

Point of information: following radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism there is a high incidence of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid from radiation effect). This is easy to treat with thyroid supplements, but you would then still have to give the cat pills and get occasional blood tests. Hate to see you spring for the $1250 then find you had to give the cat pills forever anyway.
I asked the clinic about this because I was aware of that typical outcome with people. They said that in cats the overproduction of throid hormone is due to a benign thyroid tumor. The radiation destroys only the tumor, not the thyroid gland. After treatment the thyroid produces its normal level of hormone so no medication would be required after the treatment.

That is the only reason we are considering this treatment.

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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:14 AM   #9
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345
Grumpy, what was the last time $1250 would buy you peace of mind and comfort for a family member at the same time?

I consider my pets to be family members and it sounds like you do too. Do you have the money and could you comfortably spend it without any hardship on your part? If so, I would be spending my time researching the possible side effects of the procedure rather than sweating out a relatively small sum of money.
Brewer,

Yes, we can afford the cost with no real hardship. That would not have been true during the years we were striving to reach FIRE. Now that we are there it is hard to let loose on the purse strings. I guess I just need to stop worrying about money and do the things that make us happy. Thanks.

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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:16 AM   #10
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

I'm creeping up on the same problem. We have a 13 year old cat, Boo. Boo's always been kind of a pain in the butt, she bites unexpectedly while being pet and she's scratched the baby twice, equally unexpectedly. She's had irritable bowel all her life and passes a good bit of blood in her stool, so I have to carefully monitor her diet and feed her stuff that bothers her the least. Last year she developed feline diabetes, so another tweak to the diet to remove carbs. Unfortunately the high quality, high protein diet I have her on will tax her kidneys.

As described a few months ago, she's also taken to pooping on the carpet inside the house. Its typical feline anger/jealousy stuff. So she and unfortunately along with her the other two cats have been banished to the garage. So she poops on the garage floor directly in front of the door. Watch your step!

She's impossible to give any medication to. Fights and claws. Even with a "pill gun" I had to go through three worming pills a couple of years ago before I got one down. Shots are out of the question. As soon as I go to give her medications on a regular basis, she'll disappear and hide for days.

So the messy pain in the ass factor is mounting, we know she's not healthy and probably cant go on for a whole lot longer.

What to do? Keep feeding her expensive cat food, keep her shut into the garage and keep mopping up cat poop from the floor every day or the one way trip to the vet? A decision I've been deciding to decide another day for some time now.

My experience with major pet diseases/injuries and long term success isnt good. We've taken in some strays and thrown thousands at them for various problems, only to have them die anyhow. One dog had back, eye and stomach surgery and then developed cancer. We currently have a dog that tore a ligament in a rear leg. We're into three thousand on that, she still limps and cant use the leg well, and i'm constantly playing with her medications as too much and she throws up, too little and she wont use the leg.

I think that the trips to the vet, the procedures and the side effects thereafter were as traumatic and painful as the disease itself. But whenever one of those pets comes up in memory, the conversation always ends with "we did everything we could reasonably do".

Do everything you can reasonably do. Get a second opinion. Factor in the impact to the pet and to your family. Factor in how you and your family will feel about the decision over the next 10-20 years. You'll still be second guessing yourself at least for that long, regardless of which decision you make.

My guess is that after a successful second opinion on the benefits vs problems, you'll do the procedure.
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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:16 AM   #11
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

That's exactly the right answer, Grumpy. *
Put the money after the decision. *Good luck with your cat. *I'd do the surgery also. *
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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:21 AM   #12
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

Man! I spent that much in Dec/Jan on a broken leg for the most worthless and destructive of our border collies! *All I can hope is that the limp will make it harder for her to reach the window screens and tear them up as in the past. *As a rule, we spend about $2k a year on pet care/special food/vet visits/aquarium stuff. *I hope not to have such a big spike again for a while, but the pair of sheep are "mutton age" now, and I expect they'll need more care soon.

I'd do the surgery, but I'd also consider the no medicine while you are gone route--how much worse would the condition get in that period? *And congrats for giving pills to cats--it is both an art and a daredevil act! Your description of your cat's personality pretty much describes all 5 of our current cat occupants. *
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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:22 AM   #13
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

Sorry about your cat, CFB. How miserable. Makes you wonder how the cat feels with all the digestive problems....
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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:23 AM   #14
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

CFB,

Sounds like you have the patience of a saint and the heart of Florence Nightengale. I would have little trouble euthanizing a pet with an ailment that caused it to suffer. In our situation, Pye's ailment only causes us to be inconvenienced. We will very likely opt to get him the treatment.

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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:27 AM   #15
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny

As described a few months ago, she's also taken to pooping on the carpet inside the house.* Its typical feline anger/jealousy stuff.* So she and unfortunately along with her the other two cats have been banished to the garage.* So she poops on the garage floor directly in front of the door.* Watch your step!
Have you tried extra litter boxes and different types of litter? It could be that Boo began to associate painful poops with the litterbox so Boo now avoid the box. Lots of box options with different types of litter might help.

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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:29 AM   #16
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
Have you tried extra litter boxes and different types of litter?* It could be that Boo began to associate painful poops with the litterbox so Boo now avoid the box.* Lots of box options with different types of litter might help.

And the dog(s) would be thrilled with the additional buffet options!
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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:33 AM   #17
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

My best pill delivery method is this: get one of the "wide" post-it notes, the ones about the size of index cards. Peel one off, roll it up with the pill inside to set the 'diameter". Hold the dog or cats mouth open, insert the tube with the pill closest to you, and blow hard into it pointing for the throat.

Works way better than a pill gun.

On the cat, thanks for the kind words. She seems to be fairly healthy and happy, and she should be considering she's eating some of the best food made. Its just that between the IBD, the diabetes and the kidney trouble that the diet will cause in the medium to long term...we know that her time is being measured in months rather than years.

I dont know about saints and nurses, but I do have a huge soft spot for animals.

We've tried boxes of all sorts, self cleaning, regular, deep, covered, green litter, scented, unscented, granular, clumping. The two problems are that we have one dog (ted) who LOVES the cats and has become rather chummy with two of them. Mutual butt smelling, mutual and concurrent face licking. Pretty cute actually. But boo will have none of that, only ted is no less enthusiastic when she comes in. And the baby likes to pull her tail, although she seems to be inviting him to do it...slinks up, brushes by his legs, points her butt at him and wiggles the tail. Whenever ted stuffs his nose 3' up boos butt, or the baby pulls the tail, she'll poop on the carpet within 5 minutes. I've seen her come in from outdoors, where there are plenty of poopable options, to poop right in front of the garage door. The other day she came in from outside when we left the door open, and dropped a load right in front of my wife and then ran like hell.

Not a lot of fun. We're busy enough and our carpets are taking a beating.

Dont get me started on the dog snacks. Our dog Jasmine is a connoisseur of fine poop. She very much misses my old mcmansion where we had plenty of deer around the neighborhood. About the most disgusting thing I've ever seen :P
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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 10:49 AM   #18
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpy
I asked the clinic about this because I was aware of that typical outcome with people. They said that in cats the overproduction of throid hormone is due to a benign thyroid tumor. The radiation destroys only the tumor, not the thyroid gland. After treatment the thyroid produces its normal level of hormone so no medication would be required after the treatment.

That is the only reason we are considering this treatment.
Don't know the probability, but hypothyroidism does happen.

http://www.radiocat.com/section2.html
http://www.avmi.net/NewFiles/Hyperth...acilities.html
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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 11:24 AM   #19
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

Based on the statistics in those links, it seems like a very small risk.

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Re: Tough Spending Decision
Old 05-10-2006, 11:38 AM   #20
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Re: Tough Spending Decision

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpy
I am really struggling with this decision.* The alternative is euthanizing poor* Pye before our next trip at the end of June. This seems pretty drastic but with anyone else but us, he cannot be handled and I cannot see foregoing travel for as long as he lives.*
On the one hand, based on my long standing* LBYM lifestyle, I cannot see spending that kind of money on a cat.
On the other hand, we can afford that amount with no real long term impact on our overall finances.* Right now I am leaning toward having the treatment done and the cost be damned.* We love the cat and would miss him terribly.* But this voice in the back of my head keeps saying: "are you crazy?* that's money that could go into a grandkid's college fund" or some other equally important use.
One question hasn't really been asked yet, and you've probably already dealt with it but I'll ask it anyway-- can the cat accompany you when you're traveling?

Otherwise let me add to the chorus.

We could do much more for the world if we gave all our money to a homeless charity and lived under a freeway overpass, dined at the soup kitchen, and spent our days pawing through dumpsters to recycle dryer sheets. *The charities would take care of us in a highly cost-effective manner, and it would make Ted & Kant very happy! *But I'm not sure that we'd live that type of life for very long.

It's interesting that the human mind can express such loving concern for a pet and, nearly in the same breath, deem that pet's life less valuable than a scheduled trip. *I'm going to give my kid a big guilty hug today in anticipation of the time when she realizes that I'm too decrepit to live on my own. *I want her to have nothing but warm fuzzy memories of her life with dear ol' Dad.

But speaking of memories, the purpose of LBYM is to give yourself choices. *You have a choice here and you probably can't spend your money on anything else that would help ease such pain so effectively (for all of you!). *It's not a speculative crapshoot-- there's a real expectation that the money will produce the desired results. *This is a great opportunity to harvest the benefits of LBYM by dipping into all those profits to help accomplish something that means a lot to you and to your future peace of mind. *I think you're right-- it's time to spend the money.

This thread resembles the "ER or Kids?" debate. *That decision shouldn't be made on a financial basis. *Having pets is also a tremendous financial consideration that few take into account when they're selecting their companion. *That's probably the right priority, but it's also why people get hit so hard in the pocketbook a few years later when the pet needs additional care.

Pet care should probably be as much of a budget line item as car maintenance or replacement appliances. *It's probably also why the insurance industry is selling so many pet policies.

I speak from the perspective of having spent $458.55 over the last four years on a four-pound foot-long bunny, with a brain the size of a walnut, who's been extremely healthy. *This furball is also expected to live for at least another seven years-- unless there's a dramatic decline in the quality of his care! *It's clear that he rules the household, as evidenced by how much happier we feel when we sit next to him and stroke his fur coat.

Here's another question that lacks a logical financial answer: *If they refuse to use a toilet and we're picking up their waste products, then who's the superior being? *

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
My best pill delivery method is this: *get one of the "wide" post-it notes, the ones about the size of index cards. *Peel one off, roll *it up with the pill inside to set the 'diameter". *Hold the dog or cats mouth open, insert the tube with the pill closest to you, and blow hard into it pointing for the throat.
Works way better than a pill gun.
Another dumb question-- during this highly effective procedure, how close does your face come to the cat's teeth/claws? *Just wondering! *I've heard that face transplants are becoming a mainstream surgical procedure, so I wouldn't worry about it anymore...
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