Kensie Broom Peterson is the Medical Director for Furry Friends. She has been with our organization since March 2021 and is our first ever employee working around 25 hours a week. We have saved so much in vet expenses by having Kensie as a part of our team. We are able to do more things in house and it allows us to use the savings to help even more cats. Kensie also has many connections in the Vet community which has enabled us to form even more partnerships. On top of her medical duties, she has also joined our Board of Directors to bridge the gap between the Board and the medical team ensuring everyone is on the same page and up to date with the care of our cats.
We had several questions for Kensie from Portland State University students that are writing grants for Furry Friends.
Question (Medical Funding for Seriously-Ill Cats): What is the capacity of the new Medical Director? I see they are able to aid in doing procedures in house, cutting costs. What are you able to do in house and what still needs to be done with outside partners?
Answer: I am able to do full tech medical exams on each cat. Age ranges from kitten to senior. If I find something concerning on my exam, we would recommend a veterinary visit, ie. eye, oral, bacterial infection concerns. These veterinary visits cost an exam fee and usually diagnostic work up. I am sometimes able to perform diagnostics in house such as ear swabs and skin impressions. I am able to administer vaccines, collect blood samples for triple snap testing, and recommend/administer certain medications. I am also available to all fosters with any questions or concerns they may have with the cats they have.
Question (Medical Funding for Seriously-Ill Cats): Is there any kind of larger piece of medical equipment needed to increase capacity to do procedures in house? For example if you just had ___ you’d be able to do ___ procedure in house rather than having to pay outside partners to do it.
Answer: Absolutely! We are in need of a centrifuge that can help with urine and fecal samples. These two things can usually lead to a diagnosis and further treatment, and it’s also something I can do with the proper equipment. This would help lower costs of not only diagnostic testing, but the exam fee that is required whenever they collect samples.
Question (Medical Funding for Seriously-Ill Cats): What are your biggest needs for more routine medical equipment? For example in all medically needy cats we need ____ and always need more.
Answer: (Kensie, Medical Director) I am a firm believer of preventative medicine, due to my small animal clinical background. I believe every cat needs a routine deworming, triple snap test, and a fecal exam. If we are speaking about typical illness/disease we see in cats- we see hyperthyroidism, so thyroid testing is always needed. If we are talking about a chronic UTI/cystitis cat, we would recommend urine testing every 6 months. If we are talking about renal disease, we would recommend a renal/senior panel every 6 months. If we are talking about heart disease, we would recommend a routine echo, ProBNP, and chest xrays. These are the things I usually see on a daily basis. The diagnostics range in cost, and some I can do on my own. (Sorry for the long winded response)
Question (Medical Funding for Seriously-Ill Cats): How many more cats would you be able to take in if the halfway house is expanded?
Answer: So many! I would love the ability to have a true isolation ward. Currently we keep all intake cats in our isolation ward. I would love to keep the truly sick iso cats separate to lessen the spread of viral things such as URI. We have a staff willing to put in the work for our current cats. I can only see us wanting to help more cats with the proper space.
Question (Medical Funding for Seriously-Ill Cats): Can you describe the usual process of general treatment and recovery for a seriously ill cat? What are the usual steps taken? Who/how do you come to a diagnosis? Who performs most of the procedures? Do they recover with fosters? In-house? Who monitors them?
Answer: Seriously ill cat is first assessed by me with basic triage questions. If I think the cat needs to be seen ASAP, I send in a referral if possible. If I think the cat has a true concern that I can’t resolve without certain medication or diagnostics, we get them seen at a local clinic as soon as available. We monitor both in house and at the foster home if the foster feels comfortable with the recommended treatment. We have sometimes recommended they stay at our shelter location for close monitoring. Most recently I have fostered a more critical cat so I could administer medication twice daily and keep a close eye on her.
Every cat has a different treatment plan and process. It’s all very individualized. Just like human med, every patient is different and needs a different set of steps.
Question: What are typical medical expenses that you have?
Answer: Fairly common specialized treatments include:
Dental procedures and extractions: $500-1500
Cardio work ups and meds $600-$1000
Leg amputations $1700-$3000
Eye removals $1200-2500
Hyperthyroidism diagnosis and meds $200-$350
Kidney failure diagnosis and meds $200-$500
Foreign body removals $3000-$6000
Uncommon surgeries $3000-$8500
The most common expense is for sure the dental, cardio, Hyperthyroidism, and kidney failure. It is hard to project because each case is different but I would say on average we do 30 dentals, 5 cardios, 10 Hyperthyroidism (confirmed diagnosis, we test a lot more) 25 kidney failures (confirmed), 2 foreign body removals, 2-4 leg amputations, 2 uncommon surgeries, 2-4 eye removals. It all depends on funds so when a vet calls us with a stray or owner relinquishment that can’t afford the surgery we will take it under our care and pay for the surgery.
Question: What are some of the routine expenses to get a cat ready for adoption?
Answer: Averages prices
Vaccines $12 FVRCP Rabies $20
Parasite control $6.50
FIV/FELV test $18.25
Percent of animals that need altered is around 70% mostly because if the kittens and mama cats. There are many more expenses such as food, litter, housing and medical costs for those cats and kittens needing more than routine medical.
Additional Furry Friends stats for 2020
Total medical and vet expense: $124,406
Total medical expenses at outside veterinarians: $105,628.30