I think we are reasonably sensible level-headed cat owners, so when sister of Rocky, Tess (second right) had to go in to the vets to have a lump removed from her leg this week it seemed quite straightforward.The last animal we took in to have a lump removed was Offspringette's hamster Chippy and that cost £23 about fifteen years ago.
Somehow I had landed the early morning delivery to the vets on my way to work.
The ten mile car journey can only be described as average as yet again I ponder the folly of the cheap cat box tied up with baler twine and a yowling bouncing cat that even Terry Wogan couldn't drown out.
Safely into the vets and then had to run the gauntlet of the very young veterinary nurses.
Now if any veterinary nurses read this blog, you are all lovely but there's been a noticeable power shift.
But firstly, let me digress to ask all of you cat owners out there, do you all clean your cat's teeth?
I do hope so and perhaps you could tell me how.
Is it an Oral B electric toothbrush I should get? Would the double headed one with super-sonic rotation be best? Is Colgate alright? What about Listerine mouthwash? Should we be encouraging them to use that?
Right carrying on.
Firstly there was a bit of a defensive stand-off over my polite refusal of the £35 pre-op blood tests to detect renal problems.Pressure selling doesn't come close
'No we don't want that thanks, you've already told us her teeth are a disgrace and you'll be cleaning those while she's under anaesthetic, plus the removal of the lump so that's probably enough.'(ie money)
'You really should have the blood test.'
'Well she's thirteen, she's fit as a fiddle, don't most cats get renal problems eventually, we'll leave it today thanks'
'Ah well now's exactly the right time to have it done, the anaesthetic could make it much worse.'
Despite my professional background and years of training in the wisdom of early intervention and preventive medicine now I can feel myself taking up the entrenched and blinkered position, digging my heels in.I'm receiving an object lesson in exactly how coercion alienates people.
'But she'd be ill so we'd know then anyway.'
'You're really not being very sensible, that's why we recommend it, then we can treat her renal problems.'
In my mind I'm working out a low protein, low sodium diet and the cost of haemodialysis four times a week for a cat.
'But she's an outdoor cat, we don't fuss over them, we really don't need to know that today'
At this point there was a noticeable cool prickling of the young veterinary nurse's hackles,
'So are you saying if she gets renal problems you won't treat her?'
I realised we were approaching the point of no return, Cat Abuse territory and a Cat Protection meeting pending, so I quickly and firmly changed the subject.
'No blood test thank you, but could you possibly give me an estimate for the cost of the operation please?'
'No, we can't say, it depends on how long it takes.'
'So not even a ball-park minimum figure?'
'No sorry, sign the consent, ring at 1pm and we'll tell you when you can collect her'
I'm clearly in disgrace, a negligent and thoughtless pet owner because I won't do what I'm told and she has no more time for me.
Does this have NHS parallels I wonder?
I ring at 1pm and Tess is fine, do I want the lump sent off for pathology...I'm frightened to ask how much that would be, probably £100 minimum so I declined.This is probably already going to be a week's salary and in any case, what's the point in knowing? I'm tempted to ask whether she's gone into post-operative renal failure but I don't.
We'll find out eventually.
So on my way home from work I remember to collect Tess having had post-it notes stuck on me all day saying CAT and everyone at the surgery instructed to sat CAT to me every time they saw me, which they did.
There she was waiting in the cheap old Trago Mills cat box held together with baler twine, little hoarse pathetic yowl.
Young veterinary nurse again,
' That'll be £240.05p please.'
Oooohhh r-i-g-h-t, yeeeees inflation times ten, hadn't taken that into account.
'Now she mustn't go outside for ten days.
She mustn't run, jump or climb.
She mustn't get the wound dirty.
She mustn't do any heavy lifting.
She mustn't chew her leg.
She mustn't do the Times crossword.
She mustn't go swimming.
She mustn't do a big shop at Tesco's.
She mustn't cross her legs.
She must come back in two days for a check up and ten days to have the stitches removed.'
The list was endless and I felt quite fragile.Then the vet apparated to add drama and up the fear factor by telling me it had been nip and tuck closing the wound so take very good care of it, if it splits we're in trouble...now I'm a wreck, that's probably about £500 worth of trouble.
So HOW are we going to keep a cat indoors that lives outdoors? For ten days???
Escape through the cat flap was obvious and rapid and I won't apportion blame but at least I knew the kitchen door should have been closed before the cat box was opened and please please don't dob us in to the vets.
The bandage was off by the time Tess returned two hours later. Please don't tell them that either.
Now esconced in a dog crate in the kitchen with a litter tray which she's staring at in bemused fashion and howling for all she's worth, of course we can let her out every so often but doors are opening and closing here all day long, the great escape is inevitable.
I sense it's going to be a very long ten days indeed.