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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 21190
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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Are cats’ blood tests expensive?

Customer Question

hello, why do blood tests for cats cost so much to do? i am asking this because last week I dropped a young cat off to the vet- I think it did belong to someone once, it had a blue flea collar one. Its fur was very mattered had an injured ear and very thin. I vet called me today and they said it would cost $550 to run tests and do other things to it they think it had either aids cat flu. they said it wasnt eating much and not using a litter box. they said even after running the tests it would most probably need putting down- i couldnt really afford the costs to do all this- and the vet put the cat down, now i feel so guilty and awful. did i make the right decission i thought the vets may have run the tests themselves but they said no.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your writing in.
I am sorry to hear you have had such a sad experience with this wee stray cat.

Now you have listed a total estimate from the vet practice of $550. This is unlikely to be for the bloods alone. It quite likely also included the hospitalization of the wee cat and the supportive care (ie IV fluids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, nursing care of any wounds, syringe feeding, etc).

That said, the blood work is likely a significant percent of that estimate. This is because submitting blood work to the veterinary laboratories isn't a cheap undertaking in any case (not even when vets need to test their own pets). The reason that bloodwork costs as much as it does (and they are expensive in human medicine as well) is because these labs have to special machines dedicated to test animal blood. These will be different from the ones used for humans and because of that it means the companies who design the machines charge the lab more to have these machines (since there are less labs for them to sell their machines too). So, these specially designed machines in these specialty laboratories cost more to run and this trickles down into the amount of money the labs charge to test blood for our sick patients. Therefore, blood work isn't an inexpensive undertaking for animal species.

In regards ***** ***** vets running the tests themselves at the clinic's expense, I am sure they would have loved to but its just not practical. I have to admit that limitation is one of the saddest parts of being a vet. And it is a tragedy that we face on a daily basis. There are so many kitties that end up in the clinic with a similar history and if the vet practices did everything for each one, the practice would end up in great debt and be driven out of business. I can tell you that both my cats came to my clinic with the same type of history, I took them in (paid the expense for their care), but there are so many that we just can't do that for. And it is even more complicated when they don't have a home, so even if you did treat, they may end up not getting a home anyway and being put down by the shelter.
This is the dark side the human-cat relationship (and I have to say that humankind have been quite irresponsible with the cat species). We domesticated them and now there are stray populations and cats like this one who may have had a home but is now homeless. And even with animal control agencies and cat charity help, there still is just not enough help for all of them.

I know you feel guilty in this situation but it does sound like the right thing was done. If this cat was ill enough that the vets felt it was going to need a lot of care and that its prognosis even then was poor, then it is likely best that her suffering was ended. I know its not easy (I cry everytime I have to put one of these kitties down), but it does sound like you kept her from further suffering and illness on the street and at least provided her with the peace of euthanasia.

I hope this information is helpful and please take care.
Please do let me know if you have any further questions.
If you have no further questions, feedback is always appreciated.

All the best,

Dr. B.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for replying to me. It was very helpful. I just wish more people were responsible for their animals so this poor little cat didn't have to be put to sleep. Thanks again for your help and information it was very helpful thank you.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 4 years ago.

You are very welcome and I whole heartedly agree with your sentiments on people being more responsible for their pets. Its just tragic when these situations arise, and while this wee one's situation didn't have a happy ending, I still think she was lucky to have met you, had your affection, and that you were able to keep her from unnecessary suffering.

Take care,
Dr. B.