- A cat named Billie seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to detecting illness in her pet parent.
- The 12-year-old cat has had a series of health issues, including cancer and a serious kidney condition.
- With the help of pet insurance, Billie has survived her various ailments and is living a comfortable life as a senior cat.
Diagnosis: Multiple issues
Claims Covered: $12,195 | Healthy Paws paid: $10,476
Coverage options: $100 deductible | Reimbursement: 90%
By Laura Wolf, contributor
We all know about Billy the Kid, but Billie the cat who lives in San Antonio, Texas, isn’t quite so infamous. She is a quiet, sweet kitty who does not meow but makes soft little squeaking sounds. Billie loves playing with her catnip mouse and snuggling up to cat mom Andrea when she’s lying in bed reading. She also likes belly rubs and sleeping in boxes and baskets.
What’s more notable is that Billie is a 12-year-old survivor of five serious health conditions. This kitty’s journey doesn’t start with her medical history. Andrea credits Billie’s determination to survive to the fact that she was rescued from a dumpster when she was only one week old. And her story just gets more interesting from there.
Billie’s sixth sense
When Andrea and her husband Jim adopted Billie at 10-weeks-old, she noticed something extraordinary right away. She would read in bed at night with Billie snuggling on her chest, lovingly staring at her. They thought she was just an affectionate kitty, but there was something more at play.
Andrea was diagnosed with blocked coronary arteries three months later, which required two implanted stents. Billie stopped lying on her chest after surgery as though she sensed what was going on. Every so often, she’d put her paw over Andrea’s heart as though she was checking on her.
As the years went by, Billie would habitually drape herself over Andrea’s abdomen while snuggled up in bed together. Shortly after that, Andrea was diagnosed with two ulcers, for which she now takes medication. Billie no longer lays on her mom’s belly but continues her routine checkups with a paw over her abdomen and looks after Andrea whenever she’s not feeling well.
“I joke about going to the doctor and telling him, ‘My cat thinks I’m sick,’ but I’ve been tempted to do it a few times. Billie has never been wrong about her diagnoses!” Andrea said.
Billie’s series of health scares
It hasn’t been an easy road for Billie; she’s been through a rigamarole of health issues resulting in a series of procedures, treatments, surgeries, and medication.
- It started in 2014, with emergency surgery to remove six inches of her intestines after she chewed and swallowed part of a Christmas ribbon she dug out of the trash.
- Billie then developed a non-cancerous cyst (about the size of an acorn) on her tail. Her vet said there were two approaches — he could either amputate part of her tail or remove it with a laser. Since Billie has such a “magnificent tail,” Andrea and Jim chose to laser it off.
- The third, in 2017, was idiopathic hypercalcemia, a disease that, left untreated, could cause cancer. This required several months of medication and checkups before her lab tests were back to normal.
- just a year later, there was surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in her small intestine, followed by six monthly chemotherapy treatments.
- The fifth were three bous of pancreatitis – a severe and life-threatening condition (all during the pandemic) – two of which required overnight stays at her feline veterinary clinic.
- The final and most serious diagnosis was cholangiohepatitis (a disease of the kidney and bile removal system) in 2021. This again required hospitalization for a few days and an esophageal feeding tube insertion. For six weeks, Billie was fed a mixture of special cat food mixed with protein, antibiotics, and anti-nausea medicine through the feeding tube (two syringes full, six times a day). She had to have vet checkups and lab tests every two weeks during this time.
How is Billie doing now?
Billie is now a healthy senior kitty who just celebrated her 12th birthday, much longer than she was expected to live. It will be two years since her cancer surgery and chemo in April. Billie sleeps a little more these days but still loves to play with toys, chase her younger cat sister Joey, and run up and down the stairs.
How pet insurance helped Billie
The cat Andrea adopted before Billie had very expensive medical treatments for feline triaditis – an inflammatory disease of the liver, pancreas, and small intestine. So, it made sense when they adopted Billie as a kitten to enroll with Healthy Paws in case Billie developed any health problems down the road. This turned out to be a wise decision.
“We’re so glad we chose Healthy Paws to cover her health care needs since the day we adopted her at 10 weeks. We never have to worry about paying vet bills for surgery, hospital stays, lab tests, or medications, and the monthly payments are definitely worth it,” Andrea said. “Lots of people make the difficult decision to refuse veterinary care for their pets because of the cost. We never wanted to be in that position and are thankful that Healthy Paws allows us to say ‘yes’ to the veterinarians every time they recommend treatment for our cats.”
It’s estimated Billie’s family has saved more than $10,000 in vet bills throughout her long life. This has been a literal life-saver for Billie, so they also enrolled their younger cat, Joey, when they adopted her in 2015.
The claim scenarios described here are intended to show the types of situations that may result in claims. These scenarios should not be compared to any other claim. Whether or to what extent a particular loss is covered depends on the facts and circumstances of the loss, the terms and conditions of the policy as issued and applicable law.
Insureds providing testimonials in this report have not received compensation for their statements.
About Laura: Following 12 years in Seattle, my dog Boomer and I left the city in 2019 to live, work, and travel in my VW van full-time. We eventually landed in Baja, Mexico for a few months before COVID hit and we returned stateside in search of a new place to call home and focus on growing my business. Bend, Ore. is that place as of January 2021. We live in a house now, but we’ll always have a van.
Instagram: @BajaMidnight + @BoomerTheChiweenie