The term "economic euthanasia" has long been used in veterinary circles to describe the kind of decision that results when a client simply cannot pay the high costs of saving or prolonging a cat's life. In a deepening recession, with no foreseeable end, more and more veterinarians have to euthanize cats and dogs. Why? Because their owners do not have the money to pay the mounting expenses of treating cats involved in accidents, other medical emergencies, or seriously escalating chronic disease. JoNel Aleccia, Health writer for msnbc.com, described this increasing trend of economic euthanasia in an article for msnbc.com.
I can empathize with the plight of cat caregivers who have to make this difficult choice. In 1997, our Arthur, a white DSH cat, developed cancers common to white cats in her nose and ear tips. Although quality of life was a definite factor in our decision, when our vet suggested surgery as a last option, cost was the deciding factor. I pray to never have to make this kind of choice again.
Although pet insurance can help with some of these high veterinary expenses, even the pet insurance companies are either downsizing coverage or increasing premiums, to defray their own rising expenses.
I conducted a poll on ways to cut cat costs in a falling economy. Of all the votes, 29% voted "I only call the vet for extreme emergencies." Janet Crosby, DVM, Guide to Veterinary Medicine, has written a list of Tips to Save Money on Pet Care and Vet Bills. Among these helpful tips, two considering veterinary care are particularly pertinent:
Sooner, rather than later, veterinary examinations
If your pet is sick or injured, getting a diagnosis and treatment plan started as soon as possible will save money in the long run. Of course, each case is different, but getting things fixed before more things "break" definitely saves money.
CareCredit works like a credit card, but is exclusive for veterinary care (and other human health care services). Not every provider offers CareCredit or all of the available payment plans through CareCredit. Talk to your veterinarian to see if CareCredit is an option for your pet's care.