Angel’s a big girl, although a fair bit of it is muscle (the rest involves heavy-duty food anxiety issues from an early history of abuse and not being a very naturally active cat). And she’s diabetic, but we’ve got that pretty nicely controlled. Last winter, we started her on glucosamine treats for stiffness in her hips, which worked beautifully. Then the company recently “improved” the formula, she stopped eating them, and there was a lapse with none. We finally found some (not great, but something) and got her on those in early March. Shortly after that, she stopped putting any weight on her right hind leg. Since this was at a time when the weather was horrible, we attributed it to an arthritis flare-up. I checked her hip, I checked her foot, found no heat or sore spots. She was even lying on that side sometimes. No pain signs like change in appetite, hiding, increased desire for cuddling, none of that. Still interested in playing, to the limited extent she ever has been, and has been refusing to slow down – she’s still been jumping onto the couch and often ignoring the step in place for her, using only her good back leg, and doesn’t always use the low-sided litter box set up for her, even though it’s the same litter cleaned just as often. Seemed like something minor, and the vet stresses her horribly (along with our household budget) so we let it go and just watched her and tried to help her – which isn’t easy with a very strong-willed and sometimes crotchety cat!
That was three weeks ago. Still no weight on hind leg. Took her to the vet this morning.
I checked her hip and her foot. I missed her knee, in among all the long dense orange fur.
Her knee is swollen and sore and the vet almost lost a hand while flexing it.
Turns out, Her Floofiness has managed to tear the cruciate ligament(s) in her right knee. Which is painful, and has been hurting her. Probably there’s been minor damage off and on for a while due to the arthritis, which is almost certainly making things worse, and it finally just… gave.
The fact that she’s refusing to slow down means she’s putting extra stress on her left knee, which of course is increasing the chances of IT developing problems.
Okay, that’s bad. (Although the good news is that some quick blood work done at the office says her kidneys are perfect, which is always worrying with diabetic cats.)
Then there’s the treatment.
For the moment, she’s on meloxicam/Metacam, an anti-inflammatory, to try to bring the swelling down and help with the pain (that’s going to be heaps of fun to administer). She’s also on glucosamine treats from the vet that we can hope she’ll actually eat (cross your fingers).
Ideally? She should have surgery on that knee, which the vet described as “a large one”. Basically add some support to her knee.
Angel is diabetic – and even well controlled, diabetes can interfere with and/or slow down the process of healing. Angel is big, strong, and highly uncooperative about a lot of things, including being kept relatively quiet for at least a couple of weeks after the surgery – she’s not even willing to cooperate with attempts to help her NOW. The surgery worries me, but her healing afterwards terrifies me outright.
Then there’s paying for it. The vet’s going to email me a proper estimate, but I already know, it’s going to be more than we have.
Two adults, both on provincial disability… not a lot of extra money to go around. Four cats is more than we can afford. I know that. We were doing all right as long as the vet bills stayed “ordinary,” always managed to scrounge up enough to cover things, but with Angel’s diabetes and Cory’s calicivirus and allergies, it’s getting seriously tight. We’ve already maxed out all credit options, between the chronic stuff and Trick and Angel both needing dental surgery a couple of years back. Three of them would be dead if they weren’t with us, though, and Angel’s one of them (and the fourth is, so far, very healthy). So, we’ll keep trying. I mean, what else can you do?
The ironic bit? We cancelled our pet insurance about three months ago. After two and a half years on it, paying them almost $1000 a year for four cats (two of them mature), in and out of the vet repeatedly with three of the four cats, I added up the totals and discovered that if we’d never heard of them, we would not have racked up the vet credit card bill or still owed the vet money, we would’ve had it all paid off by then with some to spare. They kept not covering anything that we actually needed help covering, despite it not being the most bare-bones plan available, and with the initial deductible and the co-pay and the various exceptions, they were giving us back next to nothing. We concluded that we literally could not afford it. The next major expense I expected was dental bills for Cory, which they help very little with (calicivirus attacks the mouth cavity), and I’ve been trying to put money aside for that since we cancelled the insurance – but it’s now going to this, and vanishing fast. This particular incident, the insurance would probably have paid for.
It figures. Her diabetes is doing wonderfully (we almost had her off the insulin injections entirely ’til we hit a bad bottle of insulin that messed things up, and we’re working it back down again fairly quickly but very very carefully)… so I guess there just had to be something else, right?
Right now, I have no idea what to do. Even if I was capable of working, and I know I’m not, I’d be lucky to get a part-time minimum-wage job at this point, which would be a step down. Ditto for Jackie. Even if we had the money, I’m not at all sure about putting her through the surgery anyway – whether she’d survive it, whether it would work, how bad the recovery would be for her. But without the surgery, she’s hurting and there’s that risk of her other knee being damaged by the extra strain and… I don’t know.