Tiger’s story is one of a family desperate to save their beloved cat during what is supposed to be one of the most wonderful times of the year. Mission was able to give a Thanksgiving miracle to this family.
Just before Thanksgiving last year, Tiger developed a urinary blockage and Nikki knew that she had to save her son’s cat. Tiger had become stressed, which can trigger urinary blockages in male cats. This is a life-threatening condition, and finances were a concern for Nikki as a single mother, so she brought Tiger to Mission Animal Hospital for care the day before Thanksgiving. When he arrived, Nikki was so worried as Tiger was breathing slowly and didn’t seem well.
Nikki loves Tiger, but at the end of the day Tiger is her son Eli’s cat. Tiger sleeps on Eli’s pillow every night, and he can’t go to bed without his furry family member. Tiger is three years old, but is still as playful as he was when he was a kitten. To them, he is a “cat-dog” because of his dog-like personality and tendency to play fetch with them and how he used to eat their dog’s treats.
“He’s part of the family, and we couldn’t imagine life without him,” Nikki said of Tiger and his playful antics.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, pet ownership has been on the rise, with over 90 million families owning a pet in the U.S. And yet, veterinary care remains out of reach for far too many. Nearly half of pet owners underestimate the cost of care for their pet. This, coupled with new research that shows that 7 in 10 Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, demonstrates just how essential accessible pet care is.
Mission Animal Hospital works to combat barriers and inaccessibility to provide care for families like Nikki, Eli, and Tiger. We do this in a multi-layered approach. As a nonprofit organization, generous donors help make our Mission Program subsidized care happen. Layered onto this, we add flexible payment options, multiple services under one roof, and a veterinary methodology called Spectrum of Care.
Spectrum of Care is a recently defined concept in veterinary medicine, where a veterinarian presents their clients with multiple options for the pet’s treatment. These options take into account not only patient care and evidence-based medicine, but also the client’s budget, expectations, and cultural sensitivities. This is similar to “incremental care” in human medicine. Mission Animal Hospital is committed to defining, educating, and promoting Spectrum of Care patient management in veterinary medicine, in order to benefit pets and people alike.
The ideal treatment plan for a cat with a urinary blockage, like Tiger, would be to undergo a procedure called unblocking then be hospitalized at an emergency clinic with round the clock care, but for many families, the cost of an emergency clinic far exceeds what they can afford to save their cat’s life. Without treatment, urinary blockages are fatal - with the only offered alternative to treatment being euthanasia, these families find themselves in an impossible position.
To make a bad situation worse, Tiger presented the day before the Thanksgiving holiday! On any other day, Mission could perform the unblocking procedure and hospitalize at subsidized prices. However, Mission is a day-facility and isn’t staffed on holidays so Tiger could not stay at the hospital. Instead, Tiger was unblocked and sent home on fluids and medications to mitigate pain and stress. Tiger returned to Mission the day after the holiday to check his kidney functions. Finally, the family received good news – the values had improved! Tiger was able to go home again that day with additional fluids and a special diet to help prevent future blockages.
Being able to provide Tiger’s mom Nikki with a host of options and work within the circumstances, Mission was able to save Tiger’s life and keep Nikki from going into severe debt.
Nikki is so grateful for Mission’s accessible veterinary services, so her son and his cat can keep sleeping soundly together.