Why do I get healthcare with no upfront charges but have to pay for my cat? – Bill Jamieson

Bill Jamieson's cat, Poosie Nancie, has been in the wars
Bill Jamieson's cat, Poosie Nancie, has been in the wars
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How is it we squeal at the slightest suggestion of paying a fiver for visits to the GP but ever-rising vet bills for our pets seem to pass with barely a murmur?

Our pussy cat Poosie Nancie is now third time round the vet’s with a minor infection following a fight with the neighbour’s cat. It was wild, noisy but with no clear winner. Poosie retired with a limp. She seems well enough and has recovered her appetite (how come that rarely suffers) but she needs to be clear of infection and now the vet’s bills have passed £500, with another visit due.

Yet every time we go to the vet’s there’s a silent queue paying bills close to, if not over, this sum with no evident complaint. Yet if you suggest a minor charge for visiting a GP a huge cry erupts – unacceptable!

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It doesn’t help that our cat is a feisty feline from Fife and can’t stand the vet, who’s from Edinburgh and brooks no-nonsense. Thick hand protection (top of the range oven gloves) is required for applying medicine, plus the special medicines and ergonomic food bowls and, of course, the plug-in Fellaway calming sprays – no free prescriptions here!

Some years ago our wonderful Miss Lulubelle required an emergency overnight stay at a pet hospital in Edinburgh. I picked her up the next morning, right as rain after inhaling log fumes having dozed off too close to the stove. The bill came to more than £600 – enough for two nights at the Ritz Carlton, slap-up breakfasts – and still change left over! Yet I have just had two days of exemplary care at the NHS hospital, with constant care and attention from medics and nurses, and walking out with a bag of bills – and no up-front charges! We love our pets to bits, spending a record £775 million-plus on vets’ bills each year, or £2 million a day.

What double standards we have.