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Re-homing a sick pet before moving across the country

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My cat is currently having some health issues that could cost quite a bit of money to address: $2,200 just for a diagnostic. Then even more for treatment, assuming the diagnostic finds anything wrong, which it might not. I've already spent about $2,000 trying various prescriptions and treatments with no luck. She's only 7 years old, so assuming any issues aren't too severe, she should live for quite a while longer.

If I weren't going to graduate school, I wouldn't hesitate to pay for whatever treatment is needed for her. Unfortunately, since I know that money will be tight while I'm working on my PhD, I'm very reluctant to schedule the diagnostic. 

I originally adopted her from a no-kill shelter that has veterinarians on staff. I volunteer there, too, so I'm considering returning her there because I know they'd be able to take care of her. I also think that her health issues are behavioral and may go away with a change of location. I'm still not sure it's worth the risk of moving her 1500 miles across the country in case she still has the issues after the move. 

Has anyone else been in this situation? I'd hate to return her back to the shelter, but I need to make sure I do what's best for her. I don't think I'm going to be in a very good situation to provide care for her after the move, which wouldn't be fair to her. 

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If you are very confident that the shelter would look after her well, it is not the worst option, since you've said they're a no-kill shelter. But you might be able to find a better local rescue, perhaps ones that specialize in senior cats or those with medical issues. Even if the shelter is no-kill, a cat with health problems may be there for a very long time. Some rescues have better environments than shelters.

However, given that you say that the issues may be behavioral, I would probably take her with me and see - it's my attitude that getting a pet is a commitment for life (but if you are unable to care for her, the responsible thing is to find somebody who can - I'm not trying to make you feel bad about this.) You can do some research in advance to verify that there are good local shelters/rescues that you could take her to in your new location if it is still needed.

If you keep her, I would recommend you sign up for some pet insurance. It is likely that you wouldn't be able to get any of this covered, if there's anything in her vet file showing this is "pre-existing", but you can avoid such high bills in the future. If there's nothing in her record, I suppose it is possible that pet insurance could cover much of this (there's no diagnosis yet, which might make a difference). You'd have to read the small print. If you're in the US, I've had good experiences with Healthy Paws.

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