Tuesday, September 10, 2013

When the Price Tag is the Show Stopper

There are not too many Pawbly questions that I carry over into my blog. But every once in a while I get hit by a question that reminds me that my primary duty is to help pet parents. Whether they be near, far, wide, rich, or unfortunately, in many cases, those people trying to take care of their pets and live within  budget.

Here is the question that Damion asked us today on Pawbly:
We adopted a kitten about 3 months ago. She is now about 5 1/2 months old. Normally she is VERY playful cat, jumping and running all over the place. Yesterday when I got home she was laying down and instead of her usual come up and greet me, she continued to lay there so I knew something was wrong. When she attempted to get up she was not putting any pressure on her back leg. She did this about a month ago as well but was fine after a couple of days so I figured it was a simple injury. As bad as it seemed this time, I knew it was more serious. We took her to the animal hospital last night to find out she has severe hip displasia and bad knees. Her one hip is now disclocated and would not stay back in after sedating her and attempting to relocate it. At his point we are told the socket joints are too shallow to hold the femur bone in. The surgeon said the one side is dislocated and the other MAY dislocate in the future as well. He suggested we do a femorial head resection surgery (or FHO) on the disclocated hip and we can do the patella luxation surgery on the knees, but the total cost is around $4,000. This doesn't even include surgery on the other hip. We don't have the money for the surgery and we don't want to take her to a shelter where they will put her down. The shelter where we took her from said they can do an evaluation to see if she could be surrendered but that would only place us on a waiting list and more than likely she would need too much attention and care to be able to take her back. We want to keep her and nurse her back to health but we don't know what to do. She is on pain meds now and doesn't seem to be in pain but is walking very little. She is eating and drinking but is not really using the litter as she really can't climb in. Please let us know if there is anything we can do, some financial assistance possibly? Thank you.
Here is my answer;
Hello Damion,
I am so sorry to hear of your kittens mis-fortune. What a terrible set of diagnoses.
It sounds as if your kitten may have some congenital rear leg deformities which left her susceptible to luxation of the hip(s). If the surgeon said that both hip sockets were shallow then she certainly may be at risk for dislocation of the contralateral (other) hip.
Without having the x-rays, and performing a physical examination (and because this is the internet, and I couldn't diagnose without seeing your kitten and discussing all of the concerns with you), I would strongly suggest that you ask for and seek out a second opinion. Maybe from a general practitioner who is comfortable and proficient in orthopedic surgeries in kittens? (A good hint here is to call ALL of your local rescues and ask them who they go to, or recommend, AND ask ALL of your local veterinarians too).
Many general practitioners are able to do this surgery and often they are significantly less expensive than a surgeon.
I have also seen some success in people starting a Facebook page, or local petition to ask for funds to help subsidize their own veterinary expenses.
For example I know of a client who had 2 kittens with fractured rear legs. After some networking and searching he was able to get both of them fixed for $500, (after receiving estimates for over $4,000) so it is possible.
As a last mention. There are many kittens and cats with limited mobility who live happy lives by their parents making adjustments to their home environment. Think about significantly reducing the size of your kittens living area so that she does not have to walk a great distance for any of her routine needs, i.e., litter box, bed, food, water, scratching mat, etc. If her rear legs get too weak there are carts available to help support their weight and assist in mobility. (See (http://www.handicappedpets.com/).
If you are anywhere around my neck of the woods I would be happy to help your kitten with an examination and discussion, or maybe even surgery?
I wish you the very best of luck and hope that you can find some help for your kitten. I also hope that she can stay with you, and that you can help her regardless of her current, or future handicaps.
For those of you who don't know which kittens I am referring to see; Elliotts story. Or Kits story.

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