Willow’s Yearly Service And Oil Change

When was the last time you got your car serviced? I’m hoping it wasn’t too long ago!

As we count down the days to when we leave Brisbane and head South for summer there have been a few jobs on my list in preparation. One of which is getting our campervan checked over and paying the registration.

In fact, whenever I see that registration form in my inbox in October I’m reminded that there’s another important task that needs attention – Willow’s yearly health check up.

Now, most people have a carrier to take their beloved cat vet bound, but we don’t have space for one in our nomadic lifestyle. So, Willow is placed in her adventure bag, given a treat, and then we are on our way.

There she feels safe and close to me. When we entered the vet to the sight of three dogs noisily introducing themselves to each other Willow only lifted her head for a moment before nestling back into the bag.

In the consulting room she is given a thorough examination and her yearly F3 vaccination. This protects her from Herpesvirus, Calicivirus, and Parvovirus. There are other vaccinations available for high risk cats (cats that roam or live with another known infected animal) but Willow isn’t in that category.

Willow’s vaccinations are not only for her wellbeing. Without them we would not be allowed to board her in a cattery if circumstances required it.

The vet had finished the examination and Willow is in good health, but there was one problem she found – her back teeth have a build up of plaque.

This is quite common in older cats (Willow is nearly 10) though can also occur in younger cats. I was told that left untreated the problem can result in dental diseases such as gingivitis or tooth decay, and can also lead to heart and kidney disease.

I was nervous as it would be her first general anaesthetic since she was desexed, but it had to be done – We booked her in for a scale & polish for the next Wednesday.

Then I found myself in a bit of a dilemma.

That afternoon the vet sent through the estimates for the treatment and I was in shock, $680-$790 AUD. Now don’t get me wrong, I would do anything for this cat but I felt that the practice’s billing model didn’t align with what the vet had told me in the consultation, and Willow’s needs.

I pushed it to the back of my mind as we headed up to the Sunshine Coast for the weekend. Sun, surf, and sand. A sleepy little cat napping in the back of the van.

On the Saturday I received a call from the practice to ask if I wanted to upgrade Willow’s pre-treatment blood test to a more comprehensive analysis for $15. I asked her to send through some more information and I would have a think about it.

I wasn’t satisfied that the nurse could tell me why this was necessary in Willow’s case and it felt like an ‘upsell’. The call left me a little rattled. I wanted a second opinion.

On Monday I looked for other vets in the area and found Mitchelton Veterinary Practice with a 4.9 rating on Google. They offered Willow a free dental check up and that morning we were seen by one of their vets.

As I already understood, Willow’s plaque issue had to be addressed, and the vet gave us an estimate and plan in line with Willow’s needs without over-servicing. The cost of the treatment would be around $430 AUD. The vet sensed my worry over the procedure and Willow’s anaesthetic. She reassured me that this is a practice she brings her own pets to.

Making healthcare decisions for our pets is hard. I want the best for Willow, and my wallet – and there’s always that niggling doubt over what is right. I made the call to the other practice to cancel her treatment there. It was hard because the individual staff there were so lovely and gentle with Willow, but I had to follow my gut.

Just the next day, Steph kissed us both goodbye as she left for work and I bundled Willow, once again, into her adventure bag on our way to Mitchelton Veterinary Practice where I handed over my baby at 8am.

As nervous as I was leaving her there I was comforted having had the whole procedure explained to me.

They would shave some fur off her front paw and put in a cannula to take her bloods. Once her bloodwork is done and she is cleared for treatment they administer an anaesthetic before intubation.

With Willow under they take a closer look at the condition of her teeth to ensure there isn’t decay or other problems. Then they start the scale & clean.

The vet had informed me that there are small risks with any procedure involving anaesthetic, but they take into consideration the health and age of the pet when making these recommendations, and also the danger of leaving the plaque in place.

I tried to keep as busy as I could during the day to keep my mind from wandering. I love this cat so much. After everything we have been through together I just don’t think I am emotionally ready to lose her.

If there was a magic pill that allowed her to live forever I’d empty my bank account for it.

In the afternoon I got a call. I’m told her bloodwork was excellent for her age and the scale & clean went well with no further issues to report!

I was overwhelmed with relief. I pick up the groggy little fluffster, bring her back to the house, and let Steph know.

Willow chomps down some food and has a big drink, she still has sleep around her eyes from her ‘surprise nap’. I leave the door to the backyard open in case she wants to go out with me but she is content sitting at the doorway watching. She is a little unsettled from her experience and probably wondering about the whacky dreams she had.

As I inspect her pegs I see they look amazing. So clean!

If only cats brushed their own teeth. It would surely be a lot less of a worry! We will be feeding her more dental treats, dental food, and chicken necks from now on.

Realising we are not going to get any backyard time today I lie down to watch the yard with her from inside.

She continues the smooches and I’m so glad she is as happy to see me as I am to see her. I’m also content that her yearly ‘service’ was completed successfully, and that there will be many magnificent miles ahead of us as we venture into NSW in 19 days.

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Have your cats ever needed to get a dental treatment? Do you get recommendations from friends when choosing a vet or do you look at google reviews? Do you go with a national brand or support your local vet? Would love to know your thoughts if you want to leave a comment below.

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