SIMON WALKER: Tough love

How much dollar value do you put on your pet? 

As anyone who’s ever boarded one at the vet’s while on holiday knows, quite a lot actually.

And if you happen to have two pets, well, there goes that second week up the coast. 

But you cough up  because you allegedly love your pet.

And funnily enough, you express that  love by jamming them in a box without warning and driving them hissing and scratching down to to a pet gulag where they’re crammed in a cage with a batch of other unfamiliar freaked-out creatures steaming in their own fetid uncertainties for a fortnight while you go fishing.

It’s called peace of mind. Probably not for the cat.

It’s possibly a different story, though, when your pet gets sick or injured, and costs become what’s euphemistically referred to as ‘‘prohibitive’’ (lethal).

At what stage does tough love morph into  ‘‘do not resuscitate’’, ‘‘do not X ray’’, time to let go.

It’s a question all pet owners fear, not to mention pets.  We have an ageing pussy cat whom I love.

In my darkest hour when no one seems to understand, Mish Mash is always there for me, willing to be patted, to be fed, to soil our garage floor if I don’t tend to her sanitary needs promptly enough. 

At times it feels like we can talk to each other.

She’ll squawk at me in the morning with her trademark insistent meow, which I find incredibly annoying, and I’m sure she’s trying to say something more than “where the #$%$# have you been? I’m &&$^$$$ starving.’’

It’s like there’s a connection and it causes confused flashing on my circuitry. What humans sometimes refer to as ‘‘love’’, Dr Spock might say. 

Probably misdirected, but love’s like that, right?

As we’ve aged together, and government regulatory bodies have gotten more insistent, I’ve gone the extra mile with vet checks, innoculations and general healthcare. For the cat, I mean.

And yes I’m bitter about the expense. But on the other hand, yes I’m bitter. Which is shallow of me, because we’ve got a relationship going on.  

Then one day, Mish Mash hobbled into the kitchen impersonating John Wayne.

Probably arthritis, we hypothesised. 

Or, in a typical burst of cyberchondria, maybe untreatable, agonising and inoperable bone cancer.

(And apologies to any pet owners who’s pets actually are suffering such  maladies.)

We humanely tried to ignore it for a while, but when Mish started face planting off chairs, a call was required. To the bank. To see if vet treatment is a good investment.

We went anyhow – because we’re soft, not like our forefathers – and grimaced when an X-ray was suggested. Flinched when anaesthetic was prescribed. Shuddered when the elephant juice had no effect, except to make us poorer. And we hoped all this treatment wouldn’t bleed into a second hour of highly specialised, non-bulk-billed, non-diagnosis.

The good news was Mish Mash’s fat helped frame her  organs in the X-ray, so after $500 of fishing expedition we knew she was fat, and in basic good shape.

Any deeper issues would require metabolic tests  which ... ka-ching, ka-ching. Say no more doc.

We suddenly knew how much we loved Mish Mash. Time to wrap it up, folks. Not saying we wouldn’t have acted differently if the circumstances had been more dire.

But for now living is giving, Mish, and we’re treating every day as a bonus, and drenching your feed in anti-inflammatories.

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