Are Vets Just in it for the Money?


The other day a client balked when I recommended he feed his cat a special diet.

The cat had been diagnosed with feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD. The syndrome causes pain and inappropriate urination. In male cats it can lead to a serious complication called urinary obstruction. Cats with this syndrome are unable to urinate. If cats with urinary obstructions don’t receive prompt treatment they die in agonizing fashion.

The special diet I recommended is designed to reduce the symptoms of FLUTD and to decrease the risk of urinary obstruction.

The cat’s owner, however, thought I had ulterior motives for recommending the food. He accused me of wanting him to buy an expensive food for no reason, so that I would make more money.

The accusation would be risible if it weren’t so offensive. I was terribly bothered that the man thought I would put money above my patient’s well being. The man also evidently thought that I am stupid. That offended me too.

If I were interested in nothing but money, and if I didn’t care about my patient’s well being, and if I were at peace with the idea of going to hell, then the intelligent thing would be to recommend against a special diet.

That way the cat would suffer with the syndrome until he developed urinary obstruction. Treating urinary obstruction is a big deal. After blood tests, IV fluids, anesthesia for urinary catheter placement, and intensive inpatient care for 2 – 5 days the cat probably would be ready to leave the hospital. The bill would be well over a thousand dollars–perhaps much more.

There is plenty of profit in urinary obstruction. Selling cat food is chump change. When I recommend a special diet for a patient with FLUTD, I am putting the cat’s well being above my own profits.

If I truly cared about money I would have become a consultant or a CEO. Because it is not possible to be money grubbing, intelligent, and a veterinarian at the same time.

Photo: Pennies, folks. Not twenties. Not hundreds. Pennies.

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