I hate that this is even a question that I have to ask myself but it quickly became a reality for my family over the weekend. 

Update: Thank you all so much for those of you who read this article when it was originally published and sent Dakota well wishes.  He is home from West Vet, had a follow-up with his regular vet and is doing well on his new treatment plan. He's now been nicknamed the "$3300 Cat" but it's been worth every penny to bring him home.

I should've realized something was wrong on Friday night when I opened a large can of tuna to make dinner with and Kota didn't come running from the other room. Later that night, he was moving pretty slow and just wanted to lay around by our patio door.  That's not totally uncommon for him if he's working on a big hairball, so we thought it would pass and he'd be back to himself in no time.

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

As I was getting ready for my run on Saturday morning, I could hear him cough something up in the other room so I thought we were in the clear.  When I went to play clean-up duty, I realized it wasn't a hairball but some undigested food and he was still dragging.  I fully expected to find the hairball when I got home from my run, but instead what I found was a kitty in a lot of pain.  He followed me into the bedroom and plopped down on the ground next to me feet.  When I went to pet him, he let out a wail that I've only heard when he's getting shots or his nails trimmed at the vet.  Something wasn't right, so I made my husband come home from work so we could take him to WestVet.

That wasn't a decision we took lightly. We knew it would be really expensive but his vet was closed, the one down the street from the apartment didn't have room for us and the cat specialist at the Humane Society wasn't on the schedule again until Sunday.  I couldn't live with myself if something happened to him overnight, so to WestVet we went.

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

I don't have any kids of my own, but I imagine this is what mother's intuition feels like.  I had made the right decision.  Within minutes we found out that he had a blocked urinary tract and his bladder had swollen to the size of an orange, a very very dangerous condition for male cats. The team at WestVet got to work on him right away and we know he's in the best hands, but he's not responding to their care plan for his kidneys as quickly as they had hoped. We're now on his fourth day of hospitalization and the dollar signs keep adding up. We're mostly likely looking at $2700 minimum if he comes out on the other side of this.

That forced my husband to have a really uncomfortable conversation of how far we were willing to go to save Kota.  I've never been through something like this before. I've only lost one pet and it was a box turtle who I just found dead one morning before school.  We didn't know it was sick which is a totally situation than Kota. Hubby on the other hand, has been through this with two dogs and another cat over the course of his lifetime.

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

Kota's only seven.  He's my first real pet and came home with me only a year into my journey in the Treasure Valley. That cat has been through absolutely everything with me here and at times throughout this journey has been my only real friend.  It's impossible for me to put a number on what his life is worth.  At seven, he's got so much life to live and I can't fathom ending it because of a financial decision. I've got a decent size savings account that I started when I was working part-time in radio and banking everything I made because my room and board at college was paid for.  That money's there for emergencies. This is an emergency and I still can't tell you how much of that savings account I'll use if his team thinks they can give him a shot at few more great years with us.

We went to see him last night and I don't think we're at that point where we have to make that decision.  Something about seeing the "approach slowly" stickers on his kennel and hearing about how he ripped his collar off three times when the vet tech was with him shows me that his personality is still in there somewhere. (I love this cat more than I can put into words, but he's a jerk. He's always been a jerk.) He's going to keep fighting and I'm going to keep fighting for him as long as I can.

Have you been down this road before? How did you cope with making big decisions like this? I'm a mess. I need a hug.

...or my cat back. Really, I just want my cat to come home.