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Home » The Vine

The Vine: April 10, 2009

Submitted by on April 10, 2009 – 11:42 AM23 Comments

Hey Sars,

My beautiful cat, Tasha, has just been diagnosed with lymphoma. The vet says it's very treatable, but rarely curable. She's given so much to me in the ten years since I adopted her, the least I can do is everything I can to try to make her well again.

I'm in kind of a financial hole right now, like a lot of people. My best friend told me about Care Credit, and as soon as I get an estimate from the vet this afternoon, I'm going to apply for a grant from PetFund.org.

I wondered if you or the readers knew of any other resource for veterinary financial aid, either at the national level or here in California. Thanks to all of you in advance for any suggestions.

Tasha's Mom

Dear Mom,

If anyone will know those resources, it's Tomato Nation readers.Let's see what they come up with, and I hope Tasha stays well.

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23 Comments »

  • Sarah says:

    check out http://www.imom.org/

    It's a fund to help owners of companion animals when they can't afford vet care. There is a grant process but also something called Care Credit (like student loans but for vet bills).

    That's a tough situation, but good for you for looking into solutions!

  • adam875 says:

    We got pet insurance (through PetCare…which just merged with someone and changed its name to something I can't remember) when we adopted our kitten and I'm very glad we did! One catch we didn't realize was that the coverage amounts for each type of ailment are capped FOR LIFE. So, for instance, our cat has had some ongoing urinary problems, and we're maxed out on reimbursements for that. It saved us a couple of thousand dollars, but I do wish it reset every year or so. Still, a totally affordable and worthwhile investment, especially when facing the shock of a several-thousand-dollar surgery bill!

    Unfortunately that doesn't help Tasha's Mom, but it's good to take into account when getting a new pet.

  • lauren says:

    Oh, I'm so sorry – I have a cat about Tasha's age who's been in various stages of kidney failure for a few years now, and I know how heart-wrenching and costly it is to take care of a very wonderful and very sick cat.

    I also worked for a few years for a low-cost veterinary clinic that referred its financially strapped clients to Care Credit (I got a credit line with them myself, actually, when my other cat got sick). It's simply a credit card, as I recall; take a good look at the APR you're offered, and pass if you've already got a card with a better rate. As for the treatment you'll be giving Tasha – many of our clinic's clients donated meds back to the pharmacy when their animals no longer needed them, and while they couldn't be sold again, they could be given away to other clients. Once you know what your cat will need, try calling around to local hospitals; maybe their pharmacies do something like that and could help you out with donated meds?

    Good luck – long-term care is hard, but you'll find a way to make it work!

  • tulip says:

    I don't know of a fund offhand but I'm happy to chip in $10 for the cause if you want to shoot me an email. I know that's not what you were asking for but hey, anything for a TN reader/kitty. :) tuliptoe and I'm on gmail.

  • Jen says:

    Have you checked with your vet about possibly setting up a payment plan? Our cat had to have emergency surgery a couple years back and our vet was great about letting us just pay on it whenever we could. As in, we'd go in to buy a $40 bag of food, and give them $60. Basically an interest-free loan–can't beat that!

  • meltina says:

    In the past I would have said that imom.org was a good suggestion, but they've had to stop accepting fundraising cases because their monthly donations have dwindled, so I don't know if they will be able to help you.

    I did forward this page to a friend with a sick kitty a while back, and while he was able to handle the emergency on his own after all, he said that knowing about all these groups would be helpful to him in the future. I hope it will help you too:

    http://tinyurl.com/2pdo5y

  • Cyntada says:

    CareCredit is also for human medical bills, but I found some bad, bad reports on then when I needed dental care a few years ago. I have no experience with them personally, so can't say good or bad. As of when I researched them though, there were just too many reports of ripoffs, shady practices, and ruined credit reports for my comfort. I'd just recommend doing some research on them now and making sure you're OK with what you find, before committing to anything. Hopefully others who have actually used them can confirm or deny from firsthand experience.

    Also, is there any chance your vet would work for barter or services instead of cash? Some weekend filing, website maintenance, weed-pulling, or whatever you can offer that saves them money might be an attractive deal. All the best to you and Tasha.

    Tulip's generous offer makes me think of ModestNeeds.org. Maybe we should start something like that for pet emergencies!

  • Jenn says:

    You might check with your local SPCA – they may be able to refer you to a vet who is willing to help out. Depending on where you are, they can be very helpful. Others will only help if you sign the animal over to them, which you obviously don't want to do. The humane society has a page of suggestions (skip the first couple of paragraphs which are the usual "You should save or buy insurance") at http://preview.tinyurl.com/6c7dh.

    Good luck – let us know how Tasha is doing!

  • Amanda says:

    I don't know what part of CA you're in but if you're near one of the vet schools (Western and UC Davis) you might want to call and see if they have a study going on that Tasha would be eligible for. It's a long shot but sometimes the are available and can often help a lot. Good luck.

  • Tisha_ says:

    I don't have anything to add, but I wanted to thank Meltina for that link. Very useful information there.

  • Jill says:

    I deal with CareCredit at my, they are good as long as you pay very careful attention to their rules. They are a credit card company and they do not make any money off you if you pay your bills on time every month. For instance, if you take a no interest payment plan and you miss one months minimum payment or do not pay it off in the scheduled amount of time you have to pay the interest on the full amount. Also, they "accidentally" change the chosen monthly plan to the 3 month plan, but if you call and complain they do change to the plan you actually wanted.

  • Boone says:

    Tasha, before you open a new credit card or get involved with any kind of loan situation with a private organization, consider looking into a line-of-credit or an emergency loan at a credit union. (Credit unions are insured and regulated like banks, but they offer much lower interest rates on loans. Plus, they are non-profit and exist to encourage community-building, so everyone from the customer service operator to the loan officer is usually super supportive, helpful and nice. Everyone I know who has ever joined a credit union, myself included, has nothing but good things to say about the experience.) If grants or other no-strings-attached avenues don't pan out, check out this website:

    http://www.findacreditunion.com/

    Good luck and kisses to kitty!

  • Sachi says:

    Definitely shop around for a vet. I know your kitty needs long term care, but my girl broke her leg several years back pretty seriously and our vet said she needed surgery – $2000. It looked like the only option was to put her down, but I took her to another vet (Blue Cross) who put a cast on the leg for $100 and she healed perfectly and earned the nickname gimpy for a few weeks. Blue Cross was a hospital in HI that actually specializes in affordable pet care. They use a lot of students and volunteers to help care for the animals, and while I probably wouldn't take my kitties there except for big emergencies, they literally saved my girl's life. Good luck!

  • Adrienne says:

    I second the person who recommended looking into a vet school. I don't know about California, but Texas A&M's vet school has stepped in and saved many, MANY pets I've known (from mystery illnesses that nobody could diagnose to setting a MANGLED leg on a puppy that healed beautifully) and they are usually more than happy to help for a small donation.

    Caveat, though: If it's not something strange or an illness they're trying a new treatment for, they may not be able to help. Schools are often looking for new and interesting cases for their student's to experience. Not always the case, but be prepared.

  • Stormy says:

    Along the lines of what Amanda said, sometime Veterinary Schools are willing to treat animal (especially if they have an oncology speciality) for little or no cost to give their students experience.

  • Susy says:

    May I recommend posting your situation on http://www.wishuponahero.com?
    Many generous people support causes they believe in.
    You can add a Paypal link and hopefully many will 'chip in'.
    I hope all goes well.

  • Tashas_Mom says:

    Hey Sars and Vine Readers,

    Tasha rallied for a short while after she began treatment, then took a turn for the worse. She died peacefully at the vet's office about a month after she was diagnosed.

    I was able to make some arrangements with the vet, specifically through the receipt of leftover medications that had been donated back to the office by other pet owners.

    PSA time: if you've had a cat for a long time, and notice a change in behavior, look for a physical cause. Some people I spoke with told me her behavioral changes (suddenly having litterbox issues and becoming a picky eater when she never had been) were normal for an aging cat. My vet said changes like this are rarely purely behavioral. Know your cat's habits, and be a strong advocate for his or her health.

    Thank you all for your suggestions and kind wishes. I know the information you all found will be useful to others in my situation.

  • Janet says:

    I would also suggest looking into a Lifeline grant from United Animal
    Nations . I wish you and Tasha the best….

  • Tisha_ says:

    ((( Tasha's_Mom )))

    I'm sorry to hear about Tasha.

  • ezila says:

    I'm also sorry to hear about Tasha. I saw this thread and was like "Oh! I'll help too!" and then I saw your sad update.

    I've made a small donation to Best Friends in Tasha's honor. (hugs) I am sorry for your loss.

  • La BellaDonna says:

    {{{{Tasha's Mom}}}} Been there. Hate that. I'm so sorry about Tasha.

  • FloridaErin says:

    Aw, Tasha's Mom, I'm so sorry to hear that. I'm glad that this information is out here now, though, so that maybe others in this situation can get some help. I know I had never heard of some of these options until now and I'm grateful for it.

    Love to all our furry friends.

  • giddy girlie says:

    I'm very sorry to hear about your loss, Tasha's Mom, but like the comment above I wanted to add my 2 cents for future web-searchers. I would always advise talking to the vet. My vet was very expensive and I quickly ran out of money taking care of my sick cat last year and I was upfront about it. She helped me out by prioritizing treatments, based on urgency and cost. Such as she'd run blood work every few weeks instead of every few days (more often = better, but some is better than none) and she'd use ultrasound instead of xray, etc. She also was very open to me working with Petmeds.com instead of her in-house pharmacy which saved me a LOT of money. And when, toward the end when it became more clear that my cat was very ill and odds were against his recovery, she & I made the decision to stop some of the tests and just monitor him closely. She even waived her 'office fee' for the last few of his visits. Finding the right vet is hard (especially when you have healthy pets and don't see someone regularly), but when you find a "good" one, talk to them and see how they can help. I was surprised that she didn't balk at me for declining her advice to spare my own pocketbook. She had a great philosophy of "some is better than none" and could see that I could still be a good pet parent, even if I couldn't afford $300 of tests per week. And in the end, I was very grateful. I would have sold my car to pay for his expenses and yet it wouldn't have made much of a difference. I am grateful that she didn't let me overspend.

    Another kind word about my vet (in Irvine, CA if anyone is looking for someone) is that when my kitty had to be put to sleep, I was sincerely appreciative that she offered 2 options for his remains, both of which were at-cost. I told her after that I would have paid thousands of dollars to taxidermy him if it had been on the list, just to "prove" my love for him. She said that is exactly why she only has simple options – it isn't fair to take advantage of grieving people. Although, apparently, she HAS prepped pets to be sent to taxidermists…

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