November 10, 2010

The Discount Veterinarian

Last week, our cat got outside and ate something that gave her the runs.

If I had to bet, I'd put my money on the decapitated lizard that was left on our doorstep.

My neighbor gave me the phone number of her veterinarian. When I called the clinic, the receptionist asked if my cat would like an acupuncture treatment or a full body massage along with her antibiotic. I told the woman that I would need some time to wrap my mind around the concept of a pet spa and would have to call her back.

Veterinarian # 2 wasn't taking new patients.
"Really?" I asked the receptionist. "Really?"

I booked an appointment with Veterinarian # 3 but then canceled it after I learned that the office visit fee alone would set me back $90.

"I only paid $15 for the cat in the first place," I grumbled to the receptionist. "I could buy six new cats for that much."

I hung up the phone before the receptionist could trace my call.

"I think that Millie [our cat] might like a massage," said my husband when he got home from work. He told me to take the cat to the expensive vet.

Instead I took her to a low-cost pet clinic located next to a pawn shop and visible from the freeway off-ramp.

The first thing that the veterinarian wanted to do was to weigh our cat. This wasn't for health purposes, he told us, but for billing.

Like a produce vendor, the discount vet charged by the pound.

Before putting the cat on the scale, the man showed me his fee chart. He explained that the amount charged for the office visit isn't determined by the kind of animal on his examining table, but rather, how much that animal weighs.

I glared at my cat. She is the size of a small horse.

"I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with this," I told him.

He shrugged his shoulders and asked me how much I liked the smell of cat diarrhea.

Suddenly, I felt very comfortable.

In the end, the office visit cost me $55 (or 3 1/3 animal shelter cats) plus the cost of two medications.

Not bad, considering.

On our way out of the office, one of my sons snatched a paper pamphlet about heart worms from a display in the lobby. "I had no idea that worms could live inside you," he said admiringly.

The receptionist called after us. "Each pamphlet costs 5 cents!" she cried.

Evidently, everything in the discount vet's office is priced by the pound.

24 comments

Mrs. Werginz said...

O.M.G! This post is insane! A pet massage...although he would probably like it. I have to find a vet because our kitten is 4lbs. now and needs his shots! I wonder if there is a discount vet here in ATL. I know now to not pick up a pamplet if there is! haha

Mrs. Ohtobe said...

I feel your pain as I just rescued a stray kitten. Since our daughter works for a vet I rushed the kitty straight over. I was thrilled to hear that the first visit for a new pet was only a dollar. One dollar. Then the bill came. I about died. Over $300 because I am such a push over. But - we love that new kitty who is thriving in our home!

Anonymous said...

My sister in law once took her cat the the cat dentist. It cost her $300. It was hard to hear her complain later that she had no money for Christmas.

Emily Heizer Photography said...

PETSMART! GO to Banfield in PetSmart! So affordable and I LOVE the vets there! I used to go to a cats only vet that was pretty expensive until I got fed up because I felt like they didn't care about my pets and I could hear them gossiping about me behind the exam room door. (And they quoted me $800 for a dental cleaning!)

We go to Banfield in PetSmart now, something I was totally opposed to, but they are totally loving towards my animals actually take the time to talk to me and are WAY more reasonably priced!

Emily Heizer Photography said...

@ annoymous:

If she didn't get the cats teeth cleaned, it could escalate to abcesses, which would cause the cat's eyes to inflame and look like they were exploding out of their head. Dental cleanings in pets, if needed, are REALLY necessary. The one and only cleaning I have had required that 2 teeth be pulled because my cats body is absorbing her own teeth and she had cavities you culs see with your bare eyes and were so painful she was shaking under anesthesia. It would be cruel and inhumane to not treat an animal in that condition, or to not prevent that from happening. I assure you, it is NOT a luxury expense, and Christmas presents are really low on the priority list in comparison to my pet who is in excruciating pain with her eyeballs exploding out of her head. SORRY!

And this coming from someone who REALLY, REALLY likes presents. ALOT.

Sami said...

I am thanking my lucky stars right now that my OBGYN doesn't have the same billing philosophy...

Shannon said...

FDLOL @ Sami's comment!! Ditto on that one!

Misfit Mommy (aka the Antichrist) said...

My chihuahua who was free (runt of litter, no one wanted him) has cost me over $600 in vet's bills in the past 9 months. I tried convincing Husband and boys that really, we could have adopted another 10 dogs for that price, but they didn't go for it, either.

kmcaffee said...

I LOVE it! "3 1/3 cats"!! So funny! :)

Southern Queen of the Crazies said...

I just LOVE your blog.

Vicky said...

I'm betting your cat ate a skink.
Gracious, but I'm dying over Sami's comment!!!

vanilla said...

Sorry your cat's in misery; but your sense of humor seems to be intact. Think of the number of cats you could have if you never had to doctor any of them.

Mal said...

Pet spa? Ya know, the scary thing is that people only set up these businesses when they know there's a market for them. That is by far the most disturbing thing about this whole post.

Though the diarrhea certainly comes in second.

Heather said...

I don't know which part is more humorous. Cat massage? Admiring the fact worms can live in things, or charging by the pound.

Good stuff.

And also I hope your cat feels better soon.

Mrs. Tuna said...

Okay, I have a small yet ugly confession. I pay for my horse to have a chiropractor.

Greta: From Transparencies of Motherhood said...

We just paid $2500...yes, you read that right, for our dog to get a bouncy ball removed from his intestine. NEVER again. That was his one time. Heartless? Maybe. But now this heartless woman is broke.

Just Plain Tired said...

A pet massage? lmao My mind refuses to wrap around that one.

Anonymous said...

I may be heartless as well.. but if our pet cost us more than $200 in a calendar year.. we were thinking "other" options. But I am also one of those people that think a pet is a pet.. not a "member" of the family.

- RaeRae
(stupid google won't let me login and I refuse to admit I can't remember my password)

Anonymous said...

We got two cats-brother & sister from an ad in the paper....beautiful orange tabbies.
The boy was huge and looked healthy, but within one week's time we had spent well over a thousand dollars and the cat had to be put down. When he began acting sick we took him in to the vet the lady said she had used, Everyone was all "hi Buddy... geee, are you back AGAIN????
The previous owner had neglected to tell us that this gorgeous cat was not healthy at all, and he ended up having feline leukemia. This was before the quick test for leukemia was available. Our options were to leave him at the vet for a week of IVs etc and wait for the test to come back. After the first day of his suffering, we figured the humane thing would be to put him to sleep. So much for free cats !!

Janet said...

This cracks me up! I have never heard of a vet that charges by the pound, are we sure he wasn't a butcher in a previous life?!?!?!

And Sami's comment LMBO!!

mamacarson said...

Jana, You are hilarious!

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Mindy said...

Awesome as always, Jana! I can see you're loving Florida!

Wanted: A Pea for My Pod said...

OMG I can't stop laughing.