Cat Needs Veterinarian in Austin, TX - Difficulty: Low-Cost; Pandemic
May 16, 2020 11:29 AM   Subscribe

My 18-19ish year-old kitty needs a veterinarian. She's peeing outside the litterbox, and occasionally puking very liquidy, smelly puke.

I am already nearing the end of my rope with job hunting and being isolated and COVID, so assume stress is clouding my thinking. I am unemployed and don't have much money at all; basically enough to live on/pay bills for the next couple months. Vet bills were totally not on my radar going into the pandemic.

She does not currently have a regular vet, so she'd be a new patient anywhere. Also, I've already accepted that she won't be with me much longer. She's my first pet as an adult, so I have no idea what I'm gonna do when she dies, especially if she dies during quarantine.

So I guess my questions are: How do I find a vet in this situation? What do I do until I can get her to see someone? What do I do when she inevitably dies?

Please be gentle. I'm heartbroken and stressed to the max. Cat Tax
posted by MuChao to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
I notice that the Thrive clinics offer a $30 "nose to tail" exam. It might give you access to someone who look at your cat and let you know what the possible options are. The probably response will include more tests (and more $) to get a more specific diagnosis but they can also help you assess the prognosis so you won't have to pay money for things that don't significantly help her get more good days. Since vets are an essential service, I am sure they are open, at least for limited hours.
posted by metahawk at 12:07 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]

ps: forgot to say that I can only imagine how hard this is for you. Our dog died just a few days after the shelter in place started. The saving grace for me has been that my daughter and her dog have been staying with us - her dog really helps fill up the house with good canine energy - when they leave in June, I'm going to have to reckon with some postponed grief over the loss of my boy.
When you say, "what do I do when she inevitably passes", I thought is "be sad" because it is sad. And then, when you are ready, think about starting a new chapter by adopting a cat or kitten. (It is spring, this is kitten season so I'm guessing the shelters will be challenged to find homes again.)

But the grief doesn't start when she passes, it is already starting - this is part of the processes - looking ahead in a that cats and dogs can't do. She is just in the moment, not worrying about tomorrow but you can see the loss ahead and your heart is preparing you for that.
posted by metahawk at 12:12 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry - this is heartbreaking, I know. Virtual internet hugs to you if you want them and chin scritches to your kitty if she wants them.

I'm not sure where you are located, but in my area through even the tightest restrictions vets were still seeing animal patients for urgent issues - just limiting contact to their human owners. Sometimes they take the animal from you outside and will speak with you over the phone, for example.

I'd just start calling highly rated vets (google reviews, yelp, whatever is relevant in your area) and explain the situation. If there's one thing thats almost universally true across any decent vet office, everyone there cares about the animals as much as you do. If you ever get the impression they don't, move on to the next one. They are also almost always extremely sensitive to the financial concerns of the humans. Call a few if you have the mental energy, otherwise if you find one you are ok with right away, just go with them.

Try and make an urgent appointment in the next day or so - as soon as possible. The vet will ask you about the symptoms, is the cat eating / drinking / using the litter box. What is kitty eating (wet, dry, etc). Has her behavior changed? Etc. They'll do an examination. Before the appointment, ask up front what the cost is. There are pet specific lines of credit available if youre interested (sorry, I dont know the details). But they will also tell you what your options are, and next steps.

In the meantime - just be with your kitty. Obviously dont punish her for the pee and puke, she's not doing it to "get back at you". Give her an easy-to-reach litter box, keep it incredibly clean, put down towels or anything else outside the litterbox if they're easier to clean than the floor. Pay attention to her habits - is she puking after eating, or hours later? Does the puke have undigested food, or is it mostly liquid? Is she drinking a lot of water? (Make sure she has water - if she's puking that much she is probably dehydrating herself). All of these answers are useful to the vet.

If she does pass - this recent ask might be helpful.

I'm so sorry you're dealing with this on top of everything else. I've got my own geriatric cat at home with health issues, and the thought of dealing with the inevitable during covid is a huge weight on my shoulders as well; I understand the pain and stress.
posted by cgg at 12:15 PM on May 16

I'm so sorry for you - this sucks.

One suggestion I have is to join Nextdoor for your neighborhood, and ask this question there. You'll get some super local recommendations.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:47 PM on May 16

I am so sorry you're facing this right now. We took our cat herd to 4 Paws at 4 Points on 620 for a decade and always had good experiences, if that's not too far for you. They were genuinely kind and compassionate, and worked with us a bit on costs - we only switched practices due to moving. Some of my friends in the area have been happy with Thrive in general but I don't have first-hand experience. I can help with other recommendations in the Round Rock/Hutto/Taylor area if you like but didn't want to spam you up with those if that's just way too far.

We've had to take our old man kitty in once since this all started. Right now they are not allowing people in the office - they take the animal in, do the exam, then bring the animal back out and collect payment. Our vet came out and talked us through the results but some offices either video chat or call the owner to give results. Just letting you know so you don't show up with a nearly-dead battery - you don't need any surprises!

Wishing you and your beautiful kitty all the best.
posted by Ann Telope at 1:34 PM on May 16

Probably should've been a bit more specific. As a human, I don't mind driving to the other side of town, so I didn't think about when I originally posted. Old Kitty probably would prefer someplace closer to home: Congress/William Cannon area (South Austin). Also open to home-visit, if available.
posted by MuChao at 1:40 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]

Give emancipet a call. They're a low-cost clinic in Austin that typically focus on spay/neuter/vaccines, but I know they provide other services as well. If they can't provide the service you need, I bet they could at least point you in the right direction.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 3:00 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]

Can you accept PayPal at the e-mail address in your profile? I'd be willing to chip in $30 for the vet exam.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 4:00 PM on May 16 [6 favorites]

I know it’s a long drive, but Firehouse in Leander is still open. I just took my elderly cat there yesterday. You sit in your car, call the front desk, they send someone outside to pick up your carrier, then they call you when it’s time to come back and pass the carrier outside again. They’ll give you the rundown on kitty over the phone.

I know it’s not ideal for any pet to go to the vet without their human in the exam room, but it’s a pretty safe option.

I think Firehouse is a chain, so you may have a closer office. But Dr. Mendoza is Leander is a great vet to my 17-year-old cats, so again, might be worth the hike up here.
posted by liet at 5:07 PM on May 16

Vets are open in my area (including chains that may serve your area) and some are offering free exams for new patients. Our dog is older and needed vaccines, etc., so she went last week. An intake person retrieved her from the door and returned her there; my husband never went inside. They registered the credit card beforehand so they could charge it.

Emergency vets are extremely expensive (and generally not great for diagnostic vs triage) so I'd try to get her into a regular vet first if possible.

I apologize for being indelicate, but one thing I'd ask is how they handle pet euthanasia in these times.

I'm really sorry you and your cat are going through this. I lost my first pet that I owned as an adult a few years ago (also a cat, similar symptoms and age) and I wasn't prepared. I cried. A lot. The one bit of advice I have there is to try not to feel guilty about your decision making -- you can only do what you can with what you have -- and you can't go back in time, no matter what happens. I spent a lot of time wishing I had done things differently even though I didn't have the means or knowledge to do anything differently when it might have mattered (and no real way to know if it would have).
posted by sm1tten at 5:10 PM on May 16

There are definitely vets that do home visits and many specialize in end of life care. When we knew that our dog at the end, we called one of these. She got his files from the regular vet, made a house call, gave us the facts and gave us plenty of space to make our decision (even stepping outside so we could talk in private). She then took care of the euthenasia and took the body away for cremation and burial (our preference) The entire cost was $450 and allow our dog to go to sleep on his favorite bed, surrounded by his people and then to gently pass away. The vet wore an N95 mask and gloves and kept a distance from the humans. That cost is probably less for a cat since they are so much smaller and even then, I don't know if this in the your budget but I thought I would share since it might be an option, especially if you know that it is really her time and don't want to prolong things any longer which was our case.
posted by metahawk at 6:33 PM on May 16

Apply for Care Credit ASAP. It's a credit card specifically for vet bills. They have a listing of which vets take it (lots do). It looks like there are two Thrive clinics in south Austin that take it, so you could get the cheap exam metahawk mentioned, and then have the credit available for any tests or medicines you might need. If you call the vet, they will most likely be very familiar with care credit and may have tips for you?
Their site says you may be able to avoid paying interest: "With shorter term financing options of 6, 12, 18 or 24 months no interest is charged on purchases of $200 or more when you make the minimum monthly payments and pay the full amount due by the end of the promotional period." On the application you just put your average/normal monthly income, not the most recent month. I've had multiple friends get care for their animals this way without having much credit history or high credit score.
I am in Austin too, I might be able to find more resources via an animal rescue person I know if this doesn't help. Best of luck to you and your little friend.
posted by gang of puffins at 1:12 PM on May 17

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