Vitani's Veterinary Bills

Vitani is the sweetest one year old kitten. She was adopted this fall and is usually a happy, rambunctious little furball. She is a feisty little tortie, and she was named after one of the lions in The Lion King II.

Unfortunately, a few weeks after she was adopted, Vitani accidentally swallowed a piece of string that got wrapped around the back of her tongue, went all the way through her small intestine, and partway through her large intestine. It caused a serious blockage and she had to undergo emergency surgery to have it removed. The damage was so severe that the doctor had to remove six inches of her small intestine as well.

After the surgery, she began suffering from post-operative ileus, which basically means that she has temporary paralysis in her intestines. In most cases, ileus goes away on its own within a few days, but it has been about six weeks since Vitani's surgery and she is still struggling. She now has an appointment to see an internal medicine specialist with the hope of figuring out why her ileus hasn't subsided and to create a treatment plan.
  • Update: The specialist did another ultrasound that revealed that she had a stricture in her small intestine, which means the scar tissue formed a constrictive band in her intestine and the opening was too small for food and digested material to pass through. She immediately underwent a second emergency surgery to remove the scar tissue and enlarge the intestine to prevent it from happening again.
Shortly after Vitani was adopted, I purchased pet insurance for her and her siblings. However, the policy has a two week waiting period before they will cover any claims for accidents/illness. Vitani's surgery occurred within those two weeks, so none of the expenses that have been incurred will be covered. Nor will any future expenses related to this incident, because the insurance company now considers it a pre-existing condition.

So far, Vitani's bills from MedVet and Purrfect Care total $9,485.15. That number will only increase as she visits the specialist at OSU.
  • Update: The total cost including her treatment at OSU ended up being over $13,000.
I want to ensure Vitani continues to receive the best care possible, so any financial assistance would be greatly appreciated.

The video above shows how grateful Vitani's siblings will be too. They've been taking such good care of her while she recovers.

Thank you!

I've been trying to share this fundraiser everywhere I can. Please feel free to check out the following links and share with your friends:

Vitani and her siblings' instagram:

A few people have asked about alternative ways to make donations. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to pay the veterinarians directly. They required payment up front, so I had to split the costs between multiple credit cards and take out a bank loan. However, if you have a suggestion/request, feel free to reach out to me. 

My name is Courtney Sackett. I adopted Vitani through a local animal shelter in Columbus, Ohio. I fell in love with her the moment I met her and took her home the same day. No matter how hard my financial issues become, I'll never regret spending so much on her treatment. I have five rescue kitties now and I'll do anything to keep them safe and healthy.

However, as 2022 comes to an end, there is so much to reflect on. Vitani and her siblings have provided me with so much happiness, but I can honestly say this has been the hardest year of my life. If Vitani's vet bills were the only unexpected expenses I had to deal with this year, I would not have created a fundraiser. But this year was full of disasters for me and the costs have become so high that I would rather ask for help than let my pride/embarrassment get in the way.

The first unfortunate incident of 2022 occurred in February. I walked out of my apartment one day to find that the back passenger side window of my car was completely shattered. At the time, I wrote it off as bad luck, got it fixed by paying out of pocket, and tried to move on. Unfortunately, as I'll detail more below, it was not just a freak accidnt; someone had tried to steal my car but then must have gotten spooked by something before they could get away with it.

The next horrible thing occurred in May. Throughout 2021 and into 2022, my cat, Sarabi, was sick with a mysterious illness. She went from about 15 lbs to 6 lbs and was getting weak. We went to multiple vets and specialists to try to figure out what was wrong. She underwent two exploratory surgeries, two biopsies, multipe ultrasounds, many blood tests, frequent liver panels, and all sorts of other examinations. I had had Sarabi for almost twelve years at that point. Watching her decline so rapidly and not being able to help her broke my heart. After a year of testing, we finally got a diagnosis: she had cancer.

Sarabi's diagnosis alone would have been enough to cripple me. I was terrified and depressed and just wanted her to get better. But the pain didn't stop there. The same week I received her diagnosis, someone stole my car. They shattered the same window they did last time and peeled the steering column.

My car was later found in a neighboring county. It had been wrecked, trashed, and abandoned. At first, I was happy. I figured I had comprehensive insurance that would help fix it and that I would be able to move on. I now know how naive that was. I learned quickly that insurance companies will do everything they can to avoid paying a claim, that the agents have no sympathy or way to help you, and that the dealerships, bodyshops, and insurance companies will all point fingers at each other instead of taking the blame or helping the client. I could write a full novel on all the ways I was screwed over by this theft, but I'll save it for another day. Instead, I'll just note that the biggest issues were the employees not correctly assessing my vehicle for damages, the employees not ordering all of the needed parts on time, and the parts themselves taking months to arrive.

While trying to deal with getting my car fixed, I was also trying to take care of Sarabi. Her only chance for survival at this point was to begin chemotherapy. She absolutely hated the meds and I hated seeing her in pain. I tried to spend as much time with her as I could and was constantly checking in with the doctors to make sure I was doing everything right. They thought Sarabi was doing well and there was a good chance of remission. Then, one day in July, I came home from work and found Sarabi had passed away.

It's too hard for me to explain how much that destroyed me. She was my best friend and constant companion for twelve years. My birth father ditched me when I was a baby. My adoptive father cut all ties with me when I turned 18. I moved away for college and was hours away from my remaining family. And my best (human) friend and I had a falling out shortly before all of this. Sarabi was literally the best and most important thing in my life. People who don't love animals probably think I'm crazy and overdramatic. Hell, even some people who do love animals probably think so too. But I am a true introvert who spends most of my life at home with the cats and I'm not ashamed of it. I would rather spend time with them than other people any day. So losing Sarabi broke me in a way many people wouldn't understand. Even after months, I'm wiping away tears while trying to write this. I miss her so much and I still think about her everyday. I could write so much more about my love for her, about my guilt, about how much it hurts, but I don't think words will ever convey what it really feels like.

I was barely keeping myself together when the next incident occurred. Just a few weeks after Sarabi passed, I was still waiting on some parts to get my car completely fixed. They had fixed the window and steering column, but the people who stole my car used it as a trash can; there were cigarette ashes everywhere, burn marks on the ceiling, spilled drinks and stains all over the seats, etc; And I was still waiting on all the upholstery and whatnot for the inside. By that time, I had also upgraded to a new dash cam that sends real-time alerts. One night in August, I got an alert that there was movement in my car. I got to my car no more than 5 minutes later to find the same window shattered, the steering column peeled, but the perpetrator had already fled. Thus began a whole new ordeal with insurance/repairs.

I was still grieving Sarabi and was stressed out about my car, so I was desperate for something good to happen. That's when I adopted Vitani (and her brother Kingsley). As you already know, that happiness was short lived in some ways, as it was only a few weeks later that she swallowed the string that led to this fundraiser. Her first surgery was in October. I know that many people wouldn't have spent so much on a pet, but after losing Sarabi so recently, I knew I would not survive losing another kitten. The guilt alone would have consumed me.

I am so happy that Vitani is finally doing well. She has her attitude back, she's playing with the other kitties, and she snuggles with me every night. I'm so grateful for where we are now. But it doesn't erase the past or cure my anxieties. There are times where I get so nervous that I feel compelled to go check on each kitty to make sure they're still breathing. I have nightmares about them getting hurt. I get scared that I'm not going to be able to pay my rent and that I'll get evicted and won't have a place for them to stay. I worry that my car will get stolen again and I won't be able to take the kitties to the vet if there's an emergency. I feel like I'm letting my boss down every time I have to call off because another incident happened and I don't have a way to get to work. It's exhausting being this anxious all the time. And unfortunately, we live in a capitalist society where money is the most prominent factor contributing to my anxiety.

Vitani's medical expenses ended up being over $13,000 and that was for only two surgeries. Sarabi had undergone three times the amount of treatment before she passed, so I was already tens of thousands of dollars in debt before Vitani got sick. The amount of debt only increased while I dealt with my car issues. I was naive enough to believe my comprehensive insurance would make the process easy. Unfortunately, that wasn't true and I felt like I had to fight for every penny. My insurance covers rental cars for thefts, but for only 30 days, and even though the parts delay was completely out of my control, neither the insurance company, the dealership, or the body shop would cover the rental car for the months it took to get the parts. And although the insurance company covers rental cars for theft, they don't cover attempted thefts, so I had to pay out of pocket for the August incident. Then, for some of the appointments, my car was drive-able again, but the appointments are never set at a specific time. Instead, they tell me to drop off my car for who knows how long and they'll call me when it's ready. And of course, they don't pay for an uber or cab for me to get home or work while they work on the car. And insurance doesn't cover the property inside the car that was taken. And they are reluctant to help when the body shop charges more than what was approved in the insurance estimate.
And on top of all that there are still the deductibles I have to pay for each incident. My car was not completely fixed until mid-December. Having insurance, whether it be pet insurance or car insurance, does not relieve a person of all the incidental costs. I was trying to be responsible and still feel like I got ambushed.

There are so many smaller complaints I could make about this year too. Like, despite how many times my car was at the dealership/bodyshop, not a single person told me my car battery was going bad, so the way I found out was by finding my car dead when I tried to leave for work (which of course happened multiple times because the first time I wrote it off as bad luck. Why would I assume the battery was bad when I just picked it up from the shop a few days before and no one said anything). But my goal is not to list every complaint possible. Rather, I'm trying to show how quickly debt can become overwhelming, even for people who have "good" jobs and think they are doing the right things to protect themselves.

All of these things happening to me back to back was hard enough, but what made it even worse was the way some people responded. When they heard about my car, people would say "it sounds like it's time to move" or "you should buy a new car" or "you need a garage." Although I'm sure everyone means well, these types of comments are not helpful. First of all, many of the comments completely disregard how expensive it is to buy security systems or pay for a garage or to move. They don't consider the fact that the value of my car has gone down, so even if I tried to trade it in, I would end up with a new expensive car payment or a car way worse than the one I have. The comments also make it seem like I live in some terrible crime-riddem area. First of all, even if I did, it's rude and ignorant to assume I could just up and move. Most people who live in "bad" neighborhoods would love to move to better areas, but it isn't that easy. But in my case, moving would not help. If you look up "the kia boyz," you'll see that hyundai's and kia's are extraordinarily easy to steal and they are being stolen from all over Columbus, including the "good," "nice," "safe," or "wealthy" neighborhoods. I've also seen people make comments about how it's my own fault for buying the car. But this new trend of stealing hyundai's/kia's wasn't prevalent when I bought my car a few years ago. Some people have also criticized me for spending so much on a single pet. Instead, I could have donated $10,000 and helped a whole bunch of cats. But it's too late to change that now; I've already paid for her treatment. It also completely disregards the emotional attachment to my kitten. It also implies that I'm irresponsible or that they know better about how I can spend my money. But the way I paid for her treatment was by using a credit card that can only be used on medical/veterinary expenses and by getting a bank loan. I never would have been able to use that credit card or obtain a loan just to make a donation to an animal shelter; they would have immediately rejected my application. But really, what it all comes down to, is that I don't regret paying for Vitani's treatment. It does not matter to me that other people would have made a different decision. I just hope that some people understand why I couldn't let go of Vitani and are able to contribute to her medical expenses.

I know this post was long, so I'm very grateful for those of you who made it to the end. Whatever you may think about me, Vitani is a precious innocent kitten and deserves to live a long and happy life. Any help with that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

I've included photos of Vitani's invoices below, but GoFundMe's formating for photos is a little tricky, so I'm happy to share the actual pdf's if you reach out.

Updated 12/15/2022:
OSU refunded me a little bit of money because the actual cost of her care ended up being less than my initial deposit and my insurance paid a tiny bit, so the total cost of all of Vitani's treatment ended up being $13,787.23.


Courtney Sackett
Groveport, OH

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