Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Kitty Vet Dilemma
This is Josephine. She was a barnyard cat before she lost her eye, and one-eyed cats don't do very well outside. Normally, the cats in our barn love the outdoors, and you can't keep them in, so we just let them go back to where they are happy, even with this sort of traumatic injury.
Josephine was different. Almost from day one, you could see her thinking "I could get to like this." By the time we were done treating the eye, she was ours. Today, if we leave the door open, she might peep outside, but she scampers back as soon as anything looks even the slightest bit dangerous.
Josephine is the perfect cat for us. Her favorite activity is sitting on a lap while people type at a computer. She hates all people food and jumping up on things. She is smart enough to know that Mr. Goat likes to play rough and tumble games, but she shouldn't bite me if she knows what is good for her.
Her favorite game, actually, is to stalk Mr. Goat until he isn't looking, jump on his leg as high as she can go (she usually gets to about the mid-thigh), bite the heck out of him, then launch herself off and run away. He thinks this is awfully cute. I think it's hilarious, but only to watch.
So, when the Vet said last month that she needed to have four teeth pulled, including the two upper canines, we didn't balk at the 1K estimated bill. For us, she is worth that and more. We scheduled the surgery for August 12th. However, in the last week, I am beginning to re-think this decision.
The Vet sold us on the idea of the surgery by stating that the teeth were actively causing her pain. I've been watching for evidence of this, but so far I don't see any. He said that she would have trouble eating and that food would fall out of her mouth when she ate. This has been a constant for the last seven years; I don't see any evidence that it has gotten any worse. Mr. Goat reports that she bites him no less viciously now than she did eighteen months ago (the date of her last dental checkup).
The Vet reports that she will be able to eat fine without teeth, but I am sure that it will be more difficult for her. Also, if we remove her upper canines, we remove her ability to defend herself or to hunt should she accidentally get outside. She'll look bizarre without them. And all surgeries carry a certain amount of risk due to anesthesia and infection. If she appeared to be in pain, there would be no decision to make. Absent evidence of pain, though, these considerations are coming into play.
My current idea is to continue to live this month extra frugally, as we had planned to do to pay for the surgery, but cancel the surgery. Then we can put the money aside for the day when she is quite evidently in pain, and we won't have to worry that we might not have the money when we need it. I haven't quite decided on that though; the surgery is not yet canceled.
Have you had any experience with cat dental health? Are there any considerations that I am missing? What would you do?