Middle Class Problems: We're encouraged to take our pets to the vet - but are all these tests and drugs really necessary?

Marianne Levy only wants the best for her cat but, you know, only up to a point

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The Independent Online

I have a friend whose nervy cat takes Valium. I have a cousin whose itchy labrador is on a set of steroids as complex and finely tuned as a Mayfair cocktail, and at least five times more expensive. And I have an elderly moggy who seems fine, but a vet who asks, "Shall we take a sample of his urine? Just to see?"

We're encouraged to buy pricey health insurance for our pets, then, at – or even before – the first sign of illness, administer every possible treatment.

In short, while we humans make do and mend under an ailing national health system, our pets have a version more akin to that of the US. Kitty's got the sniffles? Get that cat a CAT scan, stat. It's down to us, the owners, to question whether all these tests and drugs really are necessary. Often while said pet stands, shivering, on the table.

I don't want to be seen as uncaring or mean. But really, if my GP makes me wait three weeks to come in and then offers me aspirin and a shake of the head, it seems somewhat unfair that my cat gets a same-day appointment and as many blood tests as his circulatory system can handle.

It's just a shame that I'm too embarrassed to say so.

"Well?" asks the vet. "It's your call."

"I only want the best for him," I say limply, meaning, I do want the best but, you know, only up to a point. Then I look sad (not difficult) and get out my credit card. They say cats have nine lives. And as I bid goodbye to yet another 80 quid, it's not hard to see why.