The real cost of having a pet | For animal lovers

The scene of the crime. Duck and vase to left of sleeping cat are now gone. Morgan denies all knowledge of it.

The scene of the crime. Duck and vase to left of sleeping cat are now gone. Morgan denies all knowledge of it but no one else sleeps there.

When you go to the shelter to adopt, you complete an application. At our shelter one of the questions is “what do you think the approximate yearly cost of a pet is?”

This is a very curious question.

I have always calculated food and routine vet costs but those are not the only costs. There are (always) hidden costs that go beyond anything you can imagine.

Morgan cost me my favorite vase (priceless) and my favorite ceramic duck (original cost $25 but it’s not replaceable). I have other vases and ceramic ducks but she chose the ones that were most cherished and targeted them for elimination. Perhaps she didn’t want any competition.

She has started to chew on things. At two years old she should have all her teeth. She seeks out and chews on electrical cords, preferably the charging cords for phones and Kindles. Perhaps she needs orthodontic work ($$$).

I have friends and relatives who have lost shoes, boots, sofas and other leather items to chewing canines. Perhaps I’m lucky.

Listen Cupcake, it's not my fault you go to bed early.

Listen Cupcake, it’s not my fault you go to bed early.

Jake targeted my carpets. He lovingly checked them all out and then peed on the one that was most difficult to clean (original cost $400 but the replacement was $900). He was so effective that we pulled it out, threw it away and put down hard flooring.

There was a period of time when he was fostered by the beloved husband prior to our merger. It was a short two years but the beloved husband remembers it as a dastardly decade of human abuse. Jake preferred to rearrange things, never quite breaking them but almost.

He is the reason we keep a supply of sleeping pills ($12) on hand. They are useful after his 3 a.m. choir practice (he has a very loud Bob Dylan style of singing). He also requires general anti-anxiety meds ($5 co-pay).

Both meds are for the humans. They don’t make sleeping pills for cats. Believe me I checked. He doesn’t need anti-anxiety drugs. HE’s the one who causes it.

Because he is diabetic and uses human insulin, I have become increasingly outgoing with people who look like they may possibly be diabetic. I have received many donations as humans are often moved to an insulin pump freeing up the large insulin supply they have in their fridge.

It makes me very popular at parties with my creative opening lines. “Hi there, like sugar?” or “Is that an insulin pump in your pants or are you glad to see me?”

Got food? I'm not fat, I'm fluffy!

Got food? I’m not fat, I’m fluffy!

Hazel is a true cat. Her cost is her ability to eat enormous amounts of food after which her human owners feel very guilty for allowing it. More anti-anxiety meds.

It’s worth noting that my cats preferred cheaper brands of food for many years. Now they are gourmets. They love, love, love Rachel Ray’s new brand and Purina’s Beyond. Both are more pricey but also healthier. Cha-ching, cha-ching.

I'm adorable and worth every penny!

I’m adorable and worth every penny!

Mollie was the most expensive cat to adopt. Aside from the low $75 shelter fee, she brought home kennel cough and promptly gave it to Jake. A round of medications didn’t work so both cats spent a week in the animal hospital ($250).

After she recovered, she was spayed (another $150). Her total bill in the first month of living with us was $475. That’s not including food, litter and special spray to remove hairball stains (which really doesn’t work all that well).

Cost of having (mostly, occasionally, always!) delightful pets – mucho $$$; wonderful unconditional (mostly, occasionally, always!) companionship – priceless!

 

 

50 thoughts on “The real cost of having a pet | For animal lovers

  1. Kate … I quickly realized that our Shultz and Dooley beer mug collection would be history if I didn’t remove them from on top of the cupboards after we got two new cats. The costs of being an animal lover … yes, it can be expensive. Our two had kennel cough when we fostered them – read kept them in our home and paid medical bills for them – until we officially adopted them. Then they were both neutered and spayed.

    One of our cats targeted our beautiful couch for clawing practice. But, as you say, their companionship is priceless. It’s a good thing! 😉

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  2. You already know I’m dealing with a senior dog with health issues, and besides the obvious medical costs, I’d have to say one of the biggest costs to me has been lack of sleep. Even when I’m sleeping, I’m always keeping one ear open for any signs of distress, or I wake dozens of times throughout the night just to peek at him and make sure he’s okay. Of course, he’s probably grumbling silently because I’m always snapping the bedside light on just to check on him. I suppose if he starts wearing sunglasses to bed, I’ll finally take the hint and leave the lights off. Actually, he’s doing very well right now, so I’m just grateful he’s been able to bounce back (again).

    I’ve always enjoyed your cat stories, and you’re absolutely right. The cost of pet care is balanced against the cost of peace of mind, and you always have to factor in those household furnishings that inevitably get sacrificed to the stealthy-pet-secret-society, but in the end, we can’t help ourselves. We just love them. *shrug* 🙂

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  3. I was just thinking about this very thing this evening. We are still in the middle of dog training at a weekly expense. Zena is on three different anxiety drugs costing more than 100. a month, so obviously we didn’t plan very well. There isn’t any co-pay for us. And because she is a large, white dog with long hair that gets both dirty and sheds like crazy, once a month to the groomers. That’s not cheap. And now she’s ready for booster vaccines. It’s a good thing we really love her. I spend more on her in a month than I do myself! I don’t actually think I spent this much routinely on my children when they were young! She has spared our rug! I’m glad for that. 🙂

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    • I hear you. Human insulin is incredibly expensive. It has doubled since Jake started using it. He doesn’t do well on the cat insulin. You are right — no deductibles. I looked into insurance and it’s not cheap either. I am sure it pays if you have some really big illnesses but at this point Jake has a DNR (do not resuscitate) for anything requiring extreme medical intervention. He’s old and has had a wonderful life. (and I get all weepy thinking about life without that annoying crank!)

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  4. You have said it all Kate – no matter the cost in actual care or the cost in auxiliary care, or even the cost in emotional adjustment, it is all for love and it is all “priceless.” 🙂

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  5. I always thought it was odd that they ask you to estimate the cost of having a pet when you fill out those forms at the shelter.

    The kitties do have a way of getting what they want. Sometimes they use their cuteness to woo you and sometimes they just aggravate the shit out of you until you cave in to their wishes.

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  6. You made me remember when Jennifer Panton fostered two puppies that ate her couch. The last cat I had was declawed when I got her so she didn’t ruin anything and being crazy, I probably threw up more than she did. I did spend a lot of money on food, but love has no price tag.
    I love the whole post…you really shine when you write about your cats.

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  7. Our gorgeous, wonderful Ragdoll Gibby is soooo loved. Okay, so she does have a little hairball/spitting up problem that we step in/clean up…spot clean the rugs…etc. Wouldn’t take anything for her ~ do wish I could keep her CLAWS clipped though…ouch. She is not into expensive upkeep…low maintenance! We spent much more on our two dogs before moving to China. Lots of expensive surgery…but we adored them, too. Pets are family! Love your post…and pictures! Nice!

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    • Aging is as hard on pets as it is on humans. Jake is 16, almost 17 with diabetes for maybe 6 or so years. He is healthy but he has eye crinkles, white in his black fur, moves slow and gets cranky (which I think is arthritis). Every day I have with him is special. He gets up at the crack of dawn with my husband. My husband slept in this morning so Jake jumped up on the bed and nestled in between us to wait. He decided the best way to get us up was to purr loudly. It worked.

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    • On the whole I have been very lucky. My friend’s dog needed emergency surgery — $4,000 and he died before he came home. So sad (about the dog, money doesn’t seem important when it’s your precious pet!).

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  8. People always assumed the house was a wreck because of kid and multitude of friends…which worked until they all went to college. I’ve given up.
    (Of course having a pet makes people live longer…I’m sure they sneak something in our food since they know we are necessary and know how to drive, buy food, and open cans….)

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    • Reminds me of the story….I always blamed noises in the night on the cats. Then when both Jake and Mollie (only two I had at the time) were in the hospital, I was awake all night wondering what all those noises were. Turns out that houses make weird noises all by themselves — not burglars or axe murderers!

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  9. Kate, some things in life cannot be quantified, like the cost of “Beloved Husbands,” “Benevolent Siblings” or “Handsome Brothers!” God will bless you for all you do for the local Flora & Fauna. You will get your reward in heaven.

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  10. I have some little pet spiders living in bathroom window ledge. Cost: a sheet of toilet tissue when I clean about every two weeks or so.
    Your cats are really adorable and I am sure worth the cost. 🙂

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    • She goes to the vet next week. We have put her on a diet three times in the past year. She’s good for a week or so and then she slides back. Or maybe I should say we slide back. In order to keep her from eating I have to keep picking up the food and then putting it down when the rest want to eat. Then picking it up again. I have a family of grazers so eventually, I get worn out.

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    • That is so funny! Bulk rate for sure. I tried anti-anxiety meds for a cat long gone and it made her a zombie so now I try natural things to help them when we get visitors. Of course they don’t like the treats with the natural stuff in them.

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