Pet Insurance Brings Peace of Mind During an Emergency

Mom always says that in her opinion, pet insurance is a necessary pet-related expense right after spay/neuter costs and microchipping.

For the cost of a nice lunch, $30 a month in my case, mom insures me for the “the great what-if” – those financially catastrophic incidents that can happen in a blink of an eye.

And guess what? I had one of those events last week and without pet insurance, mom would be freaking out! One of the best benefits of pet insurance for the pet owner is peace of mind, she says!

Let me tell you what happened to me last week and how things can turn very badly, very quickly!

Here is a little back story! I have had gingivitis for the last couple of years and it was often speculated that I might have stomatitis.

Do you know what that is? It’s some crazy autoimmune disease where the cat’s teeth are reabsorbed into the gums – yuck! In a worst-case scenario, the cat could lose all their teeth, though our cat rescue friends said that rarely happens! Meow!

Meanwhile mom took me to a holistic vet for a second opinion and that is how we came to know Dr. Gerald Buchoff at Holistic Pet Care in Little Falls, NJ. Dr. Buchoff also surmised that it could be stomatitis, but he suggested we try some holistic solutions first and watch it.

It all started at my first dental cleaning

Fast-track to last week, Mom and Dr. Buchoff decide that I should have my first dental cleaning, since I am 6 ½ years old, have some plaque issues and I still have gingivitis.

As with all procedures where we kitties are going to have anesthesia, we have to be subjected to a blood test to make sure everything is in order. Well, I am known in that clinic as a feisty fellow and don’t like being stuck with sharp needles, nor that thing up my butt to check my temperature!

The vet techs have a solution for my feistiness and that is called a muzzle! Mom can’t look at me when I have it covering everything but my nose!

Thankfully my blood work was okay, but it did show that I was dehydrated and had borderline kidney issues, which Dr. Buchoff says is very common in cats. But that’s another story…

On the morning of my dental cleaning appointment, part of my prep was NO breakfast! WHAT?! Mom was a wreak about this part because she knew that I would be pacing and wondering what is going on! And Beau and Bouvier were pretty confused too, and everyone was vocalizing to mom their displeasure at not being fed on time.

At the appointed time, mom pulled out my Your Cat Backpack – which I do love, and I actually ran to jump in it! Next thing I knew, I was zipped in and we were off. She fed the other two cats on the way out the door! She dropped me off with a kiss and went home to wait for the pickup call.

Here is where my routine dental cleaning procedure takes an alarming turn – all in the blink of an eye.

When Dr. Buchoff called he said that I have had an “event” while under the anesthesia, I am OK however towards the end of the cleaning, all of a sudden bloody water started flowing out of the ventilator tube!

I inhaled a foreign object

They quickly disconnected me and rushed me in for a full-body x-ray and found that I had inhaled a foreign object into my trachea! In his 40 years of veterinary medicine, Dr. B had never had this experience before.

He told mom that she needed to take me to a cat internist who had an endoscope to see what is going on. Of course cat internists are a specialty and the equipment is expensive so there are only a few animal hospitals that we can use.

Meanwhile I had woken from being knocked out and in true “street cat style” acted like nothing happened other than being groggy and not hungry. Mom watched me all day and evening and tried to coax me to eat a little food so I could take the antibiotics required since I had 6 teeth pulled!

The next morning mom called Oradell Animal Hospital in Paramus, NJ which is a 24/7 emergency hospital and has cat internists on staff. We had visited there 5 years ago when we went to see Dr. Heather Peikes in the dermatology department. The animal hospital has a very fine reputation and they have all the specialists.

They admitted me on an emergency basis as that was the only way I was able to see the cat internist who was booked for regular appointments until October! In spite of me having this foreign object at the bottom of my trachea, I had eaten my breakfast and was feeling pretty good!

Until they shaved part of my paw to poke me with an IV needle!! Meow!

Because I wasn’t in dire shape or critical condition, they didn’t get around to me until about 7 hours later. Mom was pretty nervous all day wondering what the outcome would be. But she knew I was in the best hands at Oradell – and that we had pet insurance!

Dr. Julie Lee, the emergency doctor assigned to me, called mom and after studying my Xray and consulting with the cat internist, I needed to have an endoscope to see what was going on down there and retrieve the object. Both Dr. B and Dr. Lee felt it could be a part of a broken tooth since one of my teeth that was removed was broken and a bit crumbly. A growth was somewhat ruled out as they are usually the same color as tissue. My object was stark white.

The next call mom gets is from the billing department with all the charges itemized for the procedure. Ka-ching – ka-ching!!

I expelled the object myself

Meanwhile, the emergency department prepared me for the procedure and as usual, before any endoscopy, they take another x-ray to determine the exact location of the object and whether it has moved up or down. They give me a little Propofol to make me still to take the x-ray.

Here’s where this story really gets interesting…wait for it…


All the vets are blown away! No one can believe it except they can see clearly that it is no longer there in my trachea!

It was concluded that I must have expelled the object myself!!! Hacked it up overnight? Someone asked mom if I could have swallowed it (sure after I hacked it up maybe!) But there is no direct passageway from the lungs to the tummy. Hello!!!

Upon discharge at 9pm, they gave me a glowing report that all was good now and that I was a very good patient – ya right! They laughed when mom asked if I had scratched anybody or hissed, and just said that I am one tough cat and they love my spirit!

They warned mom that I was kinda loopy from the Propofol still, so don’t be surprised if I act like I am covered in catnip! And sure enough, for a couple of hours, I had the “zoomies” mixed with rolling on the floor and showing my belly which mom loves! And I was starving and mom served me up some delicious raw food and after a bit, I was asleep for the night.

I guess my reputation around here will go up a few notches since how many cats can say that they saved their own life and reduced the vet bill at the same time! Not that my life was threatened per se, but like any medical incident, things can go from bad to worse with us felines!

Thank goodness we have pet insurance

In the end, my vet bills added up to $2,500+ all in with the dental, bloodwork and the emergency visit. It would have been more costly had I needed the endoscopy. We have submitted the bills to our pet insurance company, Healthy Paws, and wait for their review!

In the meantime, see what a good cat I am - I saved mom $1,400 just by having one good coughing event!

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