Adopted cat with preexisting condition - now what?
August 1, 2018 8:40 AM   Subscribe

My partner and I recently adopted our sweet Rosie from a local rescue group. We just found out that she has a health issue the rescue didn't take care of and didn't let us know about. What recourse do we have for getting it taken care of? Any suggestions for how to approach the rescue?

When we were in the process of adopting Rosie, the rescue let us know that she had been spayed and had all of her vaccinations. The ad didn't say anything else about her health, but my understanding (perhaps erroneously) was that she had been checked out by a vet when the vaccinations were taken care of.

When we met her at her foster home, the foster mom indicated that Rosie didn't like being touched on her left ear and it bothered her sometimes, but that she just made sure not to bother her ear and Rosie was fine with it. After we brought her home, we made sure to avoid bothering her ear. We saw her scratch at it occasionally, but she wasn't acting in pain or anything, so it didn't seem like a problem.

Fast forward to last week when Rosie started peeing outside of the litter box. We suspected she might have had a UTI, so we brought her to our vet. During the exam, the vet found that Rosie has a polyp in her ear that will need surgery.

We'll of course take care of it because she needs the surgery, but honestly, we might not have adopted her if we'd known ahead of time that she had a health condition that required treatment that the rescue didn't provide and didn't tell us about. Money is kind of tight right now and we didn't anticipate she would need expensive treatment so soon after being adopted with what I thought was a clean bill of health.

Our vet suggested that we reach out to the rescue to see if they would have their vet take care of the polyp, so I'm hoping that the Green would have some suggestions about how to approach the rescue. I don't want to be aggressive with them - they are a small local rescue with very few resources - but I don't want to eat the cost of Rosie's surgery if we can get the rescue to take care of it.

So I guess my ultimate question is how do I ask for them to take care of her treatment without putting them on the defensive or me going on the offensive? I'm cranky and not feeling that diplomatic, so I'm hoping you fine folks will have some suggestions on how to handle it.

I am aware that it may be a case of buyer beware and that perhaps it wasn't the rescue's responsibility to take care of anything beyond the vaccination and spaying. The agreement that I signed said that we are responsible for any future medical treatment for her - but since the polyp predates the adoption, I'm wondering if we have a leg to stand on.

Thanks for any advice you all may have!
posted by Neely O'Hara to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
I think that you can contract the rescue, however, I think that you're correct that you assumed that she had a full check up before being adopted. Look at your paperwork closely, but this seems to be how many rescues operate. Hugs to Rosie.
posted by k8t at 8:44 AM on August 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

If you haven’t already done the surgery maybe ask the rescue if they have any arrangement with vets to do it at a reduced rate they may have avenues to at least cut the cost down. I hope Rosie does well.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 9:04 AM on August 1, 2018 [19 favorites]

Well, that ad you linked to said she's fully vetted which I would think would include a vet looking in her ears, and also a foster mom getting problem areas looked at, so I don't think you assumed anything.

Fully vetted - you were told the cat had been checked over. I think you have some leverage there. Also, what is their return policy? I might get a little tough and let them know since they did not fully vet the cat and ignored her health problem, you might have to return her to them if they can't split the cost of the surgery with you, or help you out. You don't have to actually mean it.

When I had foster dogs, they had the basic vet stuff (vaccinations, neuter/spay) and then I also observed them in my home and had other things looked at subsequently (teeth cleaned, chronic ear infection treated, warts removed.) I made sure the dogs were as healthy as I could make them in the 3-4 months they were with me - I certainly didn't just leave them in pain and then adopt them out.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:18 AM on August 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

What SpaceWarp13 said. Most rescues have vets that they work with. So even if the rescue doesn't have funds to cover the surgery, their vet may help you out. Also, GoFundMe and let me know.
posted by crw at 9:38 AM on August 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

If the rescue can't help, your local shelter may have a list of vets they work with for discounted care. If you do need to go the gofundme route, please let me know.
posted by agatha_magatha at 9:50 AM on August 1, 2018

How long was she in foster? If the cat wasn’t showing any symptoms, the vet may just have missed it if it wouldn’t show from a cursory look in her ears. Many rescues get a discount rate from vets, so I might try just assuming it was missed by mistake and ask them for help. I know unexpected bills are frustrating.
posted by frumiousb at 11:15 AM on August 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Btw have you bought pet insurance yet? Pets will always have unexpected health problems and it could be good to look into it so that in the future unexpected surgeries don't throw you off. It's an investment that may pay off dividends in the future.

N'thing that the rescue may have discounted rates.
posted by treetop89 at 1:56 PM on August 1, 2018

I can only speak for my organization, but fully vetted doesn't always mean the same as when a private person is paying for veterinary care. For the organization I volunteer with, cats only see the doctor for their rabies and for spay/neuter. They're basically on a conveyor belt, we send 15+ at a time. Unless something is actively and obviously wrong with them of course! But a cat that is behaving normally probably would not be seen by a vet, and even if they were seen by a vet, only for the specific problem being treated. It's a sad fact. And to be honest, as a foster and a shelter volunteer my standard for "normal cat" has expanded so much that scratching her ear wouldn't phase me in the slightest. I know it's sad, but a lot of fosters just have...way too many cats at once to give them the care each cat deserves.

You should go in during open hours, most shelters are slammed this time of year with kittens (and probably also puppies?). If you try calling you probably won't get much response. Don't be upset. Say you adopted (whatever the cat's name was) on (whatever day you adopted her) and you've found she has a painful polyp. Hopefully you're doing this very soon after adopting her so they can't say it developed after you got her. Express your disappointment and reaffirm your care and commitment to the cat. Ask if they could do anything to help and remind them that their paperwork/website promises that each cat would be vetted. If that doesn't work, ask them for low cost resources to help her.

Honestly though it really depends on the organization. The truth is if you said that to our director he would basically say WELL SHE'S YOURS NOW SORRY. If you came to the director we had before, she would have bent over backwards to help you to our own financial detriment.

I'm sorry, surgery is so expensive. Thank you for doing right by your new companion.
posted by Bistyfrass at 4:24 PM on August 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also, not to argue with other Mefites, but I think "fully vetted" in this context means "had a combo test." This tests for FIV, FeLV and sometimes ringworm. We use that language too amongst ourselves and with others. "Hey, is this cat vetted?" "Yeah he can come back into the shelter." It just means the cat isn't going to transmit something to other cats, but they should definitely be more clear in their language.
posted by Bistyfrass at 4:29 PM on August 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thanks to everyone for your guidance on this! I reached out to the rescue and they were even more helpful than I expected. They provided a recommendation for the local ASPCA clinic that they use that can do the surgery far more affordably than my private vet, and they even offered to chip in $125 to offset the costs. That's far better than I expected and I'm glad we'll be able to take care of it without breaking the bank. Thanks for all the advice and especially the offers to contribute to a GoFundMe - we don't need to set one up, but just suggesting it left me all warm and fuzzy. I'll give Rosie hugs for all of you!
posted by Neely O'Hara at 12:52 PM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

« Older why no rotavirus vaccine for adults?   |   What to do with 8-hour layover in Amsterdam... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.