Dec 13

Pets – the gift that keeps on costing

Floss, a vet's dream (broken leg, infected foot, devoured a chocolate cake, spayed) being smooched by Cheetah, a budget cat so far,  neutered with a quick snip and fingers crossed that he'll keep well and safe.

Floss, a vet’s dream (broken leg, infected foot, devoured a chocolate cake, spayed) being smooched by Cheetah, a budget cat so far, neutered with a quick snip – fingers crossed he’ll keep well and safe.

If you surrendered to a loved one who wanted a pet for Christmas it’s not too late to supplement your gift. Yep – I’m talking money. When animals break or get sick they need to be repaired unlike other gifts which can be returned or trashed.

Animals are for life – or that’s the idea – although I do know of two dogs and a cat that went to new homes when their owners couldn’t cope.

Over the years, some of our pets have notched up big veterinary bills.

Lilac had hyperthyroidism (she went to heaven in May). The symptoms were odd – she stopped hissing at the dogs, was no longer hostile to the cats. When picked up, she’d unfailingly slump, purring, on anyone’s shoulder. She’d always thrown up hair balls, but not food, and her fur seemed sticky, like she’d been in paspalum.

The clever vet’s guess was confirmed by a blood test.  Lilac gobbled tablets for the rest of her days – we chose not to shell out $600 for radiation treatment  – but regular blood tests meant regular outgoings.

Tara the cat’s decaying teeth made her breath smell like a Chernobyl drain – until a vet did dental work. Dot the cat is allergic to fleas – and perhaps something else, still undefined – while miniscule mites gnaw Floss’s skin (dogs are even more costly than cats) unless I use a special flea and mite killer.

The ills of the farmer’s dog Mo (now deceased) sent her to four-figure vet bill class. She had a growth removed from a mammary gland and snapped something in her leg that required surgery. Kate still suffers occasional pain following a hip op after she got run over, while Floss got skittled as a puppy, had an infected foot and scoffed too much chocolate cake. Chocolate can kill dogs, and the cocoa in cakes delivers a vicious punch. The loss of the cake paled in comparison to the cost of the Sunday treatment to make Floss puke.

So if you gave a pet for Christmas perhaps you could add a savings account. And if you got given an animal, it might be wise to drop hints about its running costs.

Happy 2014 and a big, warm thank you for reading my blog.

About the author

Rae Roadley

Rae is a journalist, freelance writer and writing tutor. Soon after returning to her hometown to work for Northland's daily newspaper, she met beef and sheep farmer Rex Roadley. He lived in a historic home at Batley on the Kaipara Harbour and after moving there, Rae reported on farming then wrote a newspaper column, The Country Side. Her wryly amusing tales of country life earned many followers and led her to learn more about the local people, past and present. She tells the story of her new life in 'Love at the End of the Road: Finding my heart in the country'.


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  1. Lynley

    Oh you speak straight to my heart and bank balance right now Rae. Today I have booked Jazz, the cat of almost 15 years of age in for Xrays and checks on Monday to try and ascertain why he has front limb lameness.

    Four weeks ago he began to limp just a fortnight after recovering from a slipped disc in his back…..all jokes about lifting heavy boxes went a bit sour with the bills for the Xrays, treatments, and drugs. He also has arthritis in his lower spine.

    Jazz has been a frequent flyer to the vet for numerous abscesses and issues over his busy, energetic life to date.

    His late twin brother was also a platinum client at the vet after bladder obstructions and to cure that a perineal urethosomy(spelling) Mega dollars.

    Vet care has changed so much in the past 30 years with attendant high costs that we are now ill equipped to cover thanks to the recession and health issues for a human in the family. So it is precious savings that get borrowed from next week to cover the $330 approximate bill…..

    I adore Jazz and loved his late brother but Jazz will be our last pet due to the expense of ensuring the health and well being of one. Pet insurance is now becoming popular and probably essential for any pet owner nowadays.

    In lieu of a pet I will turn my attentions to feeding the birds and encouraging the Tui, Bellbirds, Keruru and other natives that are appearing in greater numbers here in the ‘burbs.

    Merry Xmas Rae and here’s to pet health!

    1. Rae Roadley

      And merry Christmas to you and your pets – and the birds. I totally get the no cats thing – we have three baby blackbirds in a nest gazing over our courtyard where cats lurk. Gahhh… And as for vets – our cat Dot has an unsolved mystery disease – she’s been in cat Prozac and other tabs – off for blood test. Yep, they are an expensive hobby – and such a pleasure! Warmest for Christmas to you, Rae

  2. Maureen

    I’m not letting Rod see this – we acquired another Staffy puppy just recently

  3. Jenn J McLeod | House for all Seasons

    Oh my gosh! I had hyperthyroidism and my symptoms were the same. 😉 Except I think I hissed more!!!!!!
    Rae, as usual your blog has delighted, but also sent a good message. Merry Christmas to all and thank you for your ongoing support.

    1. Rae Roadley

      Disconcerting for people when when you slumped purring on their shoulder! Many, many merries to you – best with your next book – and thanks!

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