Hank gets a hand job

My cat was in pain. Blame the recession for my dirty deed.


I’m not ashamed to admit this: I’ve masturbated my male cat, Hank. Before you call the police and have me charged with bestiality, I can tell you that neither one of us enjoyed it.

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Hank was a victim of the recession. I was laid off from my job and stopped buying expensive pet store food. After a few weeks of eating a very popular grocery store brand, Hank developed feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).

Male cats develop crystals in their urine, become blocked and can’t urinate. Certain kinds of food are believed to contribute to the condition.

Hank could have died. I scraped together the money and rushed him to the vet. He seemed fine for a few weeks and then became blocked again. This time it was worse. This time I had no money.

By the middle of the night, Hank was running to the litter box every five minutes and straining to pee. I could feel his full bladder when I picked him up, and he was in pain.

I did what I always do in dire situations: I went online. An article suggested massaging the cat’s penis. This will sometimes cause the crystals blocking the urethra to loosen and come out. Further research backed up this claim.

I wrapped Hank in a towel and did the dirty deed. It worked like a charm, out popped the blockage, and Hank peed like a racehorse. I think he’s forgiven me for the indignity. Now he has to be on prescription food for the rest of his life.

When I run my little treatment by veterinarian Matthew Richardson of The Animal Clinic on Mutual, he does admit that gentle message could help but adds that cats with this problem often have a number of crystals blocking the urethra and need further treatment. He warns against at-home operations. “A cat with a urinary tract infection could have a stretched bladder that could be very fragile. A lay person could bruise it if not careful.”

But my pee-challenged feline isn’t my only recessionary pet problem.

While my financial situation was spiralling, my dog Lucy, a former racing greyhound who is also unemployed, was bitten by a dog. Six hundred dollars later, she’s fine.

Working but still struggling with bills, I now discover she needs an operation for a large lump growing on her thigh, and her teeth have to be cleaned. This will cost $1,000. I no longer have a credit card.

What do I do? Give up my lovely old dog? Back to the Internet. There don’t seem to be any vets who’ll take payment plans, and older rescue dogs like mine are not eligible for pet insurance. Petcard is a credit card designed for vet bills, but if your credit is poor you won’t be accepted.

According to the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, in 2008 the cost of owning an indoor 10-pound adult cat, including food and annual checkups, was $1,372 and an adult 40-pound dog $1,858.

Are lots of folks in situations like mine – or worse – contemplating surrendering their animal intimates to the Humane Society? At Toronto Animal Services, supervisor Carl Bandow tells me that while stats for 2009 are unavailable, there was an increase in owners turning in dogs and cats from 2007 to 08, though he does say they don’t track owners’ motivations.

There is help for some. The Farley Foundation assists seniors and disabled persons on limited incomes with pet care and also helps women leaving abusive relationships, offering foster care of their pets.

And if your live-in needs veterinary care and you have nowhere else to turn, you can post your plea on fundable.com and ask for donations – if, like your furry friend, you’re not too proud to beg.

news@nowtoronto.com

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