Q: My cat Brandy has recently been diagnosed with bladder stones. Our veterinarian says the only option is surgery. The surgery would cost just over $1,000, and I truly cannot afford this. The only other option is to keep her on expensive antibiotics and pain relievers along with a pricey prescription food that I can get only from our vet. I can only barely afford this, and sometimes we run out. My husband’s suggestion was euthanasia, but I quickly said “no.”
He wouldn't “put me down” if I were sick! I have been told by family members that I’m being selfish because I won’t put her down. If I have to do so, fine –– I don’t want her to suffer. But I don’t want to do it just because it’s cheaper or the “easier way out.” I know you’ll be honest. Please help.
A: I’m so sorry to hear about Brandy’s condition. Your situation is morally fraught, and you’re right to seek outside advice to help you make a decision on behalf of a pet you clearly consider a member of the family.
Here’s the thing: If Brandy feels well enough to go about her daily life, eats well and appears free of pain, then great … you can consider the medications and food a perfectly reasonable alternative to your veterinarian’s recommendation for surgery.
In fact, as I’m sure your veterinarian explained, some bladder stones can completely resolve without surgery if you’re diligent with her diet. In other words, the medications and diet may do their thing and, if you’re lucky, you may manage to avoid surgery altogether.
If Brandy continues to urinate uncomfortably, behaves unusually, or fails to eat normally, euthanasia should be considered.
At issue, however, is that you must continue to pay for these expensive medications along with her therapeutic diet. The good news is that you may be able to find suitable alternatives at a better price. Ask your veterinarian for less expensive (generic) drugs. Consider researching certified veterinary pharmacies online for a better price on both her diet and her meds. As you’ve made plain, her life may depend on it.
Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami. Her website is drpattykhuly.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.