The Cost of Sickness.

Friday morning we woke up to a sick cat. Our little guy, Ziggy wasn't feeling well. I've had pets most of my life but the reality is that pet ownership as a child was different from owning a pet as an adult. As a child, if your animal gets sick, your parents take care of it. I was lucky. I never really had a sick pet and I haven't felt loss from having a pet have to die or be put down. Cats don't usually have a ton of issues. We got Ziggy as a brother to Mini who we'd already decided on. Zigg came home first and then a few weeks later we got Mini. They were both kittens and Zig is occasionally loving while Mini is a very social kitten who loves attention and is very vocal. Shay and I both like our cats but the last month has really been the first time we've spent a lot of time with them. When we first got them, we lived in a studio where they drove us nuts with the lack of space. As kittens, they were a handful and shortly after we moved house. With constant work and then Dogsitting for the remaining two to three months of the year, we really just hung out with the cats when we had the time to. I'll be honest, we fight about them a lot. They're troublesome sometimes and if we pay attention to them, Mini does get more affection because she demands it more often. 

Shay lost Cozzy when I met him and my heart will always be locked on Sparcky. We're both dog people who didn't have enough room in our hearts for a new dog, so we got cats. 

Friday night Ziggy wasn't getting better so we took him to the vet down the street. We were charged a hundred bucks for a vet to touch him and tell us that his tech will be back with an estimate for addition costs. The estimate was almost a thousand dollars and we were told one thing but not another. We got Ziggy from two vets that had fostered him so when he got sick, we sent them a text. After spending the money for the visit, text messages flooded in and the Vets told us this certain hospital wasn't the best. If Ziggy wasn't feeling ok, we needed to bring him to them at a different hospital and pay a new fee for someone to touch him and tell us they needed to run some more tests. He seemed to be doing better after the first check up, so we drove home. Saturday I had to leave for San Francisco. If he wasn't better by Sunday we'd go to another vet. 

Sunday came and Zigg was worse. "Cats don't get sick", everyone was telling me. "Vets just try to take your money", anyone who was told would share. The reality was, I didn't have answers and I couldn't just sit around and watch this poor cat get worse. Ziggy, the brother to the sociable Mini, the cat I have more memories yelling at than not, was feeling lousy and looked like he might die. So we took him to the vet. Two hours in a waiting room after some stranger took our animal away we were presented with a new estimate. The numbers on the page were the same as the numbers on a page we saw Friday. This living breathing furry feline that resided in our home with us each and every day now looked like a price tag. The reality was that we didn't have a thousand dollars laying around to spend on anything, let alone the possibility of an answer that would equal more estimates. 

He wasn't going to die, we were told but something was wrong and without these tests, there wouldn't be answers. Two hours and a lot of honesty led us to telling the vets who gave us this little grey cat, we couldn't afford to run tests. Two hours of contemplation on their end led them to sending us home and saying they'd fund the tests and call us in another sixty minutes. Those sixty minutes were endless. 

So many thoughts. I love Sparcky. It's a fact. Do I love this cat we'd had for nearly seven months? If I didn't love him, did I like him enough to let him live? Does money mean more than the cost of a living breathing entity? I hadn't felt loss. I've never had to make a decision. I try to be a good person and I try to think that good things happen to good people. Shay didn't love Ziggy like he loved Cosmo. He knows he can't ever love anything as much as he loves Cozy. The answer for him was rational. We didn't have money to pay our bills. We couldn't spend money to possibly save our cat. I saw myself as the little girl that loved her basket full of kittens, that couldn't fathom people who left animals at shelters, who paid more money for Sparckys' plane ticket to Austria than she did her own. That little girl wouldn't have thought about this question. The answer was simple. The person seeing that little girl didn't want to make a decision her younger self hated people for. Growing up means becoming someone you didn't understand when you were younger. 

I still feel weird. Lost almost in my past and in my present and conflicted by the thoughts I had in those sixty minutes. Could I have lived with myself if I knew Ziggy was going to die and I didn't stop it? We got the call at minute sixty two, he was ready to be picked up. What did that even mean? What was even wrong with him in the first place? We were handed medicine and a crate with our grey little kitten inside. He looked normal. He looked ok? He was going back home. No decisions had to be made and that was that? I went to ask for the bill and the receptionist told me there wasn't one. What? Good things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. It's a crazy part of life, having to consider a price tag on something you can't fathom paying for. 

Ziggy is home. He's eating. He's next to me right now. It's the happy ending to your favorite book. But I still feel sick. I feel sick knowing that there were other people in that waiting room crying over their pet they had to let go. I didn't cry. I didn't know what to feel most of yesterday. Writing it down, thinking it now, I feel nauseous. We were given a second chance with a cat we weren't sure of. 

In life, one reality is that there is a cost of sickness and sometimes sick people are lucky in the end. I'm happy Ziggy is home. I enjoy his company. I'm relieved he's not sick. He purrs, I smile. It's real. It's all genuine. But he'll never be Sparcky. And I'll never love that fully again. And if one day a decision has to be made, I'm still not sure what my answer will be. 


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