Pets don’t win prizes

Ah…it was all going so well…the chutneys, the apple pie. And then frugal disaster struck. Perhaps it was the smug jam making that did it. The pride before the fall. Drat.

Whatever it was, my cat Dougal’s thirst for fighting/status as the neighbourhood tomcats’ walking target (he doesn’t look tough and he’s actually a complete wimp, bless him) is ultimately to blame. The Doogs, as he is more commonly known, is grouchy at the best of times but showed up the other night in less than the best of moods. Investigation revealed a big lump on his chest that felt suspiciously like an abscess (probably from a cat bite). Foolishly I let him go out again and when he returned the hideous thing had burst. Lovely. Bizarrely he seemed to be in better spirits. He wouldn’t have been had he looked in the mirror. Ah. This was going to be expensive.

In a panic I rang the emergency vet and they quoted me a £95 out-of-hours fee just to see him, let alone treatment. “If he’s ok in himself then bring him down tomorrow morning,” they said after I‘d recovered from my faint. I did just that and bathed the wound in salt water. Anyhow, after chasing Doogs all over the house the next morning to get him in his basket (which included a James Bond-style scenario in which I locked him in the bathroom and he escaped out of a tiny window and along the roof into the back garden without me noticing) I got him to the vet and they said they’d operate.

I spent all day guiltily worrying about whether he’d be alright – he’s getting on for nine years old and the last time I’d visited the vets she’d (rather rudely I thought!) said “he was an old eight”. Luckily he was fine, although not very pretty as you can see. I waited for the bill…£187!  Agghh! I smiled faintly at the vet nurse and hoped there was enough in my bank account to cover it.

Fortunately I do have pet insurance that will hopefully pay out about two thirds of that figure, but I’m wondering if it’s been worth it. Over the past eight and a half years I’ve spent just over £600 on it but probably only claimed twice and for not more than £150. In hindsight it would have been better to stick £600 in an emergency treatment fund, but at the time I really didn’t have that kind of money spare and nor do I now really. My neighbour, whose cat rules the roost around here (and might be the abscess culprit), says she’s given up going to the vet as he’s in so many scrapes and treats his wounds with Savlon. But I’m not sure my pet owner’s guilt complex can allow me to do that. Despite how often Doogs bites the hand that feeds him…literally…Ah…as I blog he is sitting at my feet looking very cute for once but will no doubt keep DJ & I awake all night again tonight with his pathetic mewing as he’s not allowed out.

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6 Responses to Pets don’t win prizes

  1. pat says:

    Glad The Doogs (and you) made it through his ordeal! A word of warning about Pet Insurance companies though – they can have hidden \’clauses\’ (clawses?!) that you know nothing about until you hit them head on .  When I first collected Avalo, (I\’ve only had him for 4 months, but couldn\’t imagine life without him) from the cat rescue centre, I took him to my local vets for a feline
    \’M.O.T.\’ – all was well apart from ear mites which were successfully
    treated at under £60 which is the excess on my insurance policy. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that he had lost weight, and seemed to be having difficulty eating so, off we went to the vets, quite gaily, \’cos I thought it would just be a sore mouth or some dental problem. It was a real shock when the vet thought he discovered some kind of lump on Avalo\’s kidney.  All of a sudden, he was being kept in for blood tests, intravenous fluids (he was also dehydrated) etc. The news got worse the next day after a phone call from the vet.  His blood tests showed that he had lost 75% of his kidney function.  They were recommending referral to the Cambridge Veterinary Training School hospital for further investigation, believing they have the best resources/facilities/specialists etc.  At this point, the likely cause was either kidney stones or cancer.  On the advice of the vet, I telephoned my Pet Insurance company the next day to check that Avalo would be covered, having only had him for 4 months.  That phone call (and subsequent others) left me in an impossible situation – they refused point blank to confirm whether or not he would be covered, stating that it depends on whether the condition was \’pre-existing\’ or not.  They also refused, unlike some other pet insurance companies, to send a pro-former to my local vet for results of tests completed so far, clinical history and \’possible diagnosis\’ which could then be looked at by their own vets/vet nurses who could then decided whether or not he would be covered.  So, I was left with the decision of whether to go ahead and take a huge gamble – probably against ALL advice, given my lowly financial status.  How could I not take that risk, when it could turn out to be \’just\’ kidney stones?  So, off he went to Cambridge, ended up in hospital for 5 days – and they still couldn\’t reach a firm diagnosis – although they think they have ruled out cancer and kidney stones.  Avalo obviously has renal failure, but the cause, so far, remains a mystery………and now I have an agonising wait to discover whether or not I have to sell my ……….(?) in order to raise the £1,500 he has cost me SO FAR…..!P.S. I still love him!!

  2. piper says:

    Hello Trish,
     
    That is awful!!!  I can\’t believe how unlucky you\’ve been. How callous of the pet insurance people.  Which company was it, by the way? Have you been in touch with the cat rescue centre to tell them what has happened? Have you tried the PDSA?  I hope Avalo gets better soon. The poor little chap. Let me know how you get on.  xxx Piper

  3. Sheelagh says:

    Hi Trish,After reading your article about whether pet insurance is worth it or not. I for one would not be without it. My reasons for this is that I have a black labrador puppy and was diagnosed with very bad hip dysplasia. He will have both his hips replaced in the New Year, obviously one at a time. My insurance is with Pet Plan and although the monthly pay out is around £46 a month, so far this puppy with all his chewing problems he has had and getting socks stuck in his stomach has cost the insurance a fortune so far. He is on medications for as long as the hips are replaced and probably for the rest of his life. The total amount of going to see the vets and specialist who will do the operation will be approx £3,000 to £4,000 plus another £1,000 what has already been paid out so far. Pet Plan not only covers his condition as of today but for the rest of his life and all I have to pay out is the first £90 in any one year of a claim. I have had the insurance now for approx 6 months and this figure is about £270 to which I have paid on insurance. Thank god I had it otherwise my poor dog would have had to be put down.I also have a cat which has the RSPCA cat insurance and so far his bills with going missing and cat fights has cost me £9 a month and thankfully they covered all his injuries.No I am not wealthy, both my husband and I are sick and are on benefits, but we do believe that the loss of one of our pets would be catastrophic. We have 2 cats and a dog whom we love as our children. We would sacrifice our own food in order to feed them. We keep both cats indoors for fear of losing them like we did with Joey, who later we got back after days of searching for him. Phew aren\’t animals a worry! But we do love them!

  4. sheila says:

    I find the pharmasist in Boots a lot cheaper than the vets! Anthisan for itchy skin with no known cause, dactarin for fungal infections and salt water using 2% hydrogene peroxide instead of water to clear up wounds.fuglycat

  5. Rob says:

    sheelagh sorry to hear about your dogs condition and if its still a pup and has these health issuse i hope you have informed the breeder and the sires owner and breed club as it sounds like its from bad bloodlines on the insurance side the insurance companies are looking into phasing out life long cover as its costinng too much if you are reciving housing benefit or council tax benefit the pdsa can treat your pets all they ask for is a donation towards costs i have used them to treat my cat and they did an exelent job and all it cost me was a small donation (not saying how much i donated )i am now looking to raise more donations for them as they are funded purely by donations

  6. Fran says:

    My biggest gripe with pet insurance companies is that pet owners with ‘low risk’ breeds sub those with ‘high risk’ breeds. Although owners of high-risk breeds will pay more per month, it will not be proportionally so – pet owners who own breeds that are unlikely to claim, will essentially contribute towards those that are a high risk.

    By low risk breeds I mean cross-breeds, retired greyhounds (which are bred entirely for function and therefore have zero hip dysplasia) and those breeds that are not so inbred to now have serious health problems associated with that breed. Unfortunately, those that are high risk are also the most popular breeds – and due to poor breeding practices they are now riddled with health problems (e.g. hip dysplasia or cancer) – such as Labradors, German Shepherd Dogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Pugs and Golden Retrievers.

    I would be very interested to know what the monthly premiums would be for each breed/cross-breed if they were an accurate reflection of the dog’s likeliness to claim. I can’t help but think that if pet owners knew the true cost of owning a high-risk breed before purchase, more people would think again, or be very scrupulous about who they purchased the puppy from.

    The other problem with pet insurance companies is that although they may say they will cover any illness for life, they fail to tell you that your monthly premiums will go up so much that it will be cheaper to cancel your pet insurance and pay for the treatment yourself. It is also likely to go up when the pet is older – so you will pay all that money when the pet is young and not need to claim, but when it gets older and you’re more likely to claim, your monthly premiums may double.

    We put money aside in a bank account each month instead of having pet insurance – if we don’t use it, it just adds to the savings pot – but then, we do have low-risk breeds.

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