One of my favorite songs of all time is “The Long and Winding Road” by the Beatles.
This post is likely to resemble that song and could be named “The Long and Winding Post”.
So if you’re not into the backstory of my history with pets/cats, you can jump to the money stuff below where I “get to the point.”
On the other hand, if you’re interested in how we came to own a cat after 20 years as non-pet owners, stay tuned.
Before I dive in, I want to note that I’ve written about pets for many years.
In particular, I’ve talked about how expensive they are (for example, see item #2 on Five Great Money Saving Tips People Hate) and have recommended that people who are strapped for money not get pets.
For this I was called a pet hater more than once.
It’s not that I dislike pets. In fact, I love them. But if you can’t afford ANYTHING, you shouldn’t get it.
And since pets are way more expensive than most people think and a lot of pet-based spending is done emotionally, I have always urged caution for those who already have spending issues and are considering getting a pet.
Leave it to me to hit on the one thing even more controversial than cutting your coffee purchases. LOL!
One “funny” related story.
Early in our marriage we had a relative who was terrible with money and in a lot of financial trouble.
He couldn’t afford food for his kids, so we gave him some money (I think it was around $200) to help him get by.
The next time my wife talked to him he thanked us for the money, noting that it had allowed him to get a cat.
Anyway, I love pets and am 100% ok with people getting them — as long as they can afford to take proper care of their pets. That’s it.
Growing up with Pets
We always had pets when I was a kid.
Our first was Sport, a collie/German shepherd mix who my parents got from a neighbor when I was a toddler.
Sport and I were inseparable and best buds throughout his life/my early life.
Later on, we got our first cat, Flora. She was a nightmare. No one liked her (except my mom) and she liked no one (except my mom).
Of course her hatred for me could have stemmed from a 6-year-old chasing her all over the house with a broom and then poking her with it when she fled under the bed. She didn’t like that much.
When I was in fourth grade we got a second cat, Freda, who was the exact opposite of Flora. Freda was loving, friendly, and awesome in almost every way.
It stayed that way for many years: mom and me with Sport, Flora, and Freda.
Eventually Sport died when I was entering high school and the four of us then moved in with my step-dad when my mom remarried.
During my high school years we got another dog, but Freda was my love. She would sleep with me at night and play by day. She was the best.
Our dogs were great too, but I wasn’t as connected to them because they lived outside (our cats were inside-only). Living in the country the dogs roamed free and were never on a chain. It was a good life for a dog.
Getting My Own Pets
When I finished grad school and finally bought my own place, one of the first things I did was go to the animal shelter for a cat or two.
I opted for cats over a dog simply because cats are so much easier to care for. I was working a lot and there was no way I could manage a dog.
My plan was to get one or two cats depending on what I could find. I found a brother and sister pair of kittens (Tigs and Darlin) and snatched them up.
As I was leaving there was an older, bigger kitten that meowed at me, begging me to take him.
He had a week or so left before he was scheduled to be put to sleep, so I told myself I would call back in five days and if he was still there, I’d come back for him.
I called, he was still there, and I went to get him. I’m so glad I did since Bandit became one of my three great cat loves (Freda was the other, and there’s one coming below).
The three cats had a lot of room to roam as I owned a three-bedroom condo with almost no furniture (who needs furniture as long as you have a bed and a TV?) Haha!
We lived through a couple trials like a flea infestation and the cats using my 1970’s shag carpet as their personal potty, forcing me to replace the carpet in the entire house.
But I loved them and we had an awesome time together.
A couple years later I got married and my wife had her own cat, an orange tabby named Pumpkin.
We became a blended family and after a rocky start, Pumpkin was accepted into the pack.
Shortly thereafter we moved and a few years later the kids started showing up.
Eventually our kids began having symptoms we couldn’t explain. We took them to the doctor and found they were allergic to cats (dogs too).
As painful as it was, we found homes for all four of our cats and the kids’ symptoms disappeared.
The Go/No-Go Decision
As the kids got older, it seemed as if they had outgrown their allergies.
They had no problems when we visited my mom and dad, who owned two cats and a dog.
So we considered whether or not to get a pet. My son wanted a dog and my daughter wanted a cat.
Eventually we decided not to for a few reasons:
- The hassle factor. Our lives were busy enough without a pet and we didn’t need any more complications.
- We weren’t home a lot. My son played various sports on traveling teams and there were many weeks we just weren’t around much.
- We weren’t 100% positive that the kids’ allergies were gone if they had long-term exposure to a pet.
- By this time, the kids were at an age where if we did get a pet, my wife and I would probably end up owning the pets ourselves after the kids grew up and moved on. We weren’t up for that.
- My wife liked the ease of house-cleaning without a pet.
Therefore we decided not to get pets at that point, knowing the kids could always get a pet when they had their own homes.
Along Comes a Cat
That’s how we ended up living 20 years with no pets.
Then my daughter got married this past July and her pent-up pet wishes ended with her getting 10 cats in just a few months.
Yes, ten. I only wish she had stopped there, but that’s another tale.
Anyway, her husband was on some sort of maneuvers for a week (he’s in the Army) and she decided to visit us at the end of September 2019.
She asked my wife if she could bring one of her cats with her. My wife and I decided “no” since our house has been pet free and we wanted to keep it that way.
But my daughter isn’t easily swayed. And my wife can be worn down if one is persistent enough.
My daughter proceeded to ask, ask, and ask again until my wife said “yes”. So when my daughter arrived she had a one-pound, four-month-old kitten.
He was the smallest thing I’d ever seen in a cat that old.
Here’s his brief history:
- My daughter had adopted him a couple months earlier.
- He was the runt in his litter (which was why he was so small).
- She named him Zeus (all her cats were named after Greek gods) which was ironic given his size.
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with him.
As you cat owners know (or really anyone who’s been around cats), when you get a cat it’s the luck of the draw. They might be sweet (Freda) or want to kill you (Flora). And most have an attitude of some sort. Just getting a cat is a big roll of the dice (which is yet another reason we hadn’t ventured into cat ownership).
The best way I can describe Zeus is a dog in a cat’s body. He is friendly, loving, sweet, and so very cute.
Since we knew he was awesome, it eliminated the possibility that if we got a cat we’d end up with a dud.
I saw my chance to have one last, amazing cat in my lifetime.
The $1,000 Cat
After a few days we were at the kitchen table with Zeus and my daughter asked if I wanted him. I blurted out, “I’ll give you $1,000 for that cat.”
I think both my wife and daughter choked a bit (for different reasons).
My daughter said that sounded good to her and we had a somewhat loose agreement (I still needed to get my wife’s ok, of course.)
I gave such a large number because I wanted to be generous, make it happen quickly, and not go back and forth in negotiating. I wanted a number that would cut to the chase and $1,000 seemed like a round number that did so.
Then we hit a snag. My daughter talked to her husband. They decided that $1,000 wasn’t enough — they needed more. Plus they had other restrictions, including (at one point) us taking a second cat (one we knew nothing about and I suspect was a Flora-like flop.)
These add-ons were non-starters for me, especially since I had tried to be so generous. Despite the fact that I already loved baby Zeus, my daughter went home with him a few days later. My wife was thankful since she didn’t want a cat anyway.
But as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. As the days passed, I grew more fond of the kitty I let slip through my fingers. It didn’t help that my daughter kept texting me pictures of him saying he missed me!
I started talking to my wife about us taking Zeus after all. Let’s just say she was a firm “no”.
But as I also told you, she can be worn down, so I started that process while negotiating with my daughter. Eventually we agreed on $1,000 plus a $5 per hour raise (she runs social media for me on ESI Money) as long as I could get my wife’s buy in.
Eventually my wife relented and said ok. The deal was set.
BTW, my wife loved the cat too and has since fallen head over heels for him. Her main issue was that she didn’t want the responsibility (I agreed to do the litter, feeding, etc.) She was also relieved that Zeus was much less responsibility than training the guide dog I had considered getting. Haha!
My wife, daughter, son, parents, and I then all gathered in Florida for our October trip to Ft. Myers Beach. My parents had driven from Iowa and were driving back. Their route just so happened to go by my daughter’s house in Kentucky. Once the vacation was over, my wife and I flew back to Colorado while my parents headed out by car, stopping to pick up the cat on their way.
I spent one night at home, then drove to their house the next day. I picked up the cat in Iowa since it was an 11-hour drive one way versus 16 hours if I had to drive to my daughter’s. Plus, since my parents were selling their home and hitting the road in an RV, this would probably be the last time for me to visit my hometown.
I got the cat on a Sunday night, stayed Monday, and drove him home on Tuesday. He’s been at our house ever since and has both gained a lot of weight (still small for a cat but probably about seven pounds now) and become king of the castle.
Along the way, we racked up several cat-related expenses.
Of course we had no supplies (other than a few things my daughter gave us) so we needed cat litter boxes, toys, food bowls, and on and on.
Then we needed consumable items like food and litter.
We needed a vet. The cat had been battling a cold/infection for a month or so when we got him (he had it when he visited here) so we had a couple vet appointments to handle that, including medicine he had to take.
And, of course, he came with fleas. We had a full-court press to kill them all before they took over the house.
In addition, Zeus had not been neutered, so that was scheduled. Then we debated whether or not to have him declawed.
Every cat our family (my mom and dad) ever owned (probably 10 to 12 in total) had been declawed. My cats and my wife’s cat had been declawed. But somehow over time declawing became a “bad” thing to some — with people on both sides debating whether or not it was “right”.
We tried training Zeus to scratch a post instead of everything else. We also treated the furniture to try and keep him from scratching. We did all we could to get him to scratch the post and not the furniture. He did love the post. But he also loved the couch, the chairs, and the new curtains.
When she agreed to take Zeus my wife had stipulated he had to be declawed. I was wavering on this and did all I could to get him to focus on the post.
The deciding factor was our vet. When we went in for the pre-neuter visit we asked about declawing. He told us the following:
- He used laser declawing which was supposed to involve less pain after surgery as well as deliver better results long-term.
- In addition, they gave six cold laser treatments as part of their declawing fees to speed healing.
- If we wanted him declawed, the vet said we should do it when he was young and at the same time as the neutering to minimize trauma.
- The clincher was that the vet said he had numerous clients who had left cats with their claws and all was fine until something happened — they had a kid, they got a $5,000 couch, etc. and the cat went crazy clawing everything. So they were faced with either declawing a seven-year-old cat or getting rid of him — both bad choices.
So we got him declawed. The healing process was quite an ordeal as we babied him for a month like he was a newborn child (including setting up a bed in his room to sleep with him to make sure he didn’t pull the stitches). When I was growing up our cats would come home from declawing one day and the next we’d be running them through the house. I guess cat stock has gotten weaker through the years. 😉
Anyway, we made it through with no issues and he’s completely fine now.
Breaking all the costs into categories, here’s what we’ve spent on Zeus since we got him in November:
- Purchase price: $1,000.00
- Vet: $960.31
- Vacation: $600
- Food: $499.71
- Supplies: $92.21
- Tower: $92.50
- Toys: $68.02
- The purchase price is the lump sum as noted above. The $5 extra per hour is not in this number. It’s an expense for ESI Money.
- The vet costs include everything — getting rid of the infection and fleas, neutering, annual shots, and declawing.
- When we went to Hawaii we hired a friend to stay in our house and take care of Zeus. We paid $50 a night since we wanted to be generous (going rate was more like $40 per night). Having the sitter did provide house security as well, which I liked, but since we’ve traveled before and just left the house empty (and the neighbors watched it), the main reason for the expense was the cat.
- Since he was so small, we have only fed him top-notch kitten food (and lots of it). His preference is for Blue Buffalo but he’s also had Science Diet.
- Supplies are things like litter pans, scoops, mats, can lids, scratching posts, bowls, etc.
- I bought him a six-foot cat tower that he loves. It’s his main vantage point (it faces a window) in his room (he has my daughter’s room as his own — where he spends the night and many a day in the sun. The room includes a bedroom with en suite bathroom.) LOL!
- I spent a lot on toys, especially a couple automated ones. His favorites ended up being basic — a mouse on a string and any box we get — so we don’t buy cat toys any more. 😉
As you might imagine, 1) we don’t skimp when it comes to our cat (and we don’t need to) and 2) we have spent a bit more than average.
To highlight this, our house sitter told my wife, “I don’t believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I’d want to come back as Zeus.” Haha!
BTW, if you want to see pictures of Zeus now and then, I post them on my Instagram regularly.
Average Costs of Owning a Cat
Just to completely round out this post (and compare my costs to what others pay), I found the following ranges for the average annual cost of cat ownership:
Lifehacker says first-year costs for a cat should be $1,035, which is what Business Insider lists as well (because both used the ASPCA as their source).
All About Cats says, “In their oft-cited ‘Pet Care Costs’ publication, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) estimates that a new cat will cost $1,174 in their first year. With the costs of bringing a new cat into the family aside, the ASPCA determines that each successive year will cost $809.”
Petfinder lists first year costs as $405–$2,285 with each year after that ranging from $340–$1,825.
PetCoach says, “While the actual cost of owning a cat is highly variable, the average cost to own a cat is $809 per year, with the first year averaging $1,174. As most cats live an average of 9 to 15 years, this becomes an average lifetime cost of $7,646 to $12,500.”
So we’re a bit above average. But our cat deserves it. 😉
The Benefits of Pets
In addition to being a sweet baby that brings us joy, it appears Zeus offers several other perks I had not considered.
While surfing the web the other day I ran into this piece on the benefits of pets for older adults. The highlights:
Research shows that pet owners (primarily of dogs and cats) can decrease their risk of coronary heart disease, the most common cause of death of men and women 60 years and older.
According to the American Heart Association, studies have shown that pet owners have lower blood pressure, lower resting baseline heart rates and blood pressure, significantly smaller increases in heart rate and blood pressure in response to stress, and faster recovery from stress.
In one early study, Erika Friedmann, professor of organizational systems and adult health at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, even found higher survival rates of heart attack patients who owned pets.
Sally Morgan, a physical therapist for people and animals in West Hatfield, Mass., elaborates on the social and emotional benefits for people over 50. “They may find themselves living alone for the first time in years after a spouse dies, a divorce, or even simply after the children move out of the house,” she says.
The healing power of pets has a scientific basis, too, with studies showing that this type of interaction releases the anti-stress, calming hormone oxytocin in animals and humans.
Pioneering South African researchers Johannes Odendaal and Roy Meintjes first demonstrated the reciprocal release of endorphins (oxytocin and dopamine) in studies they conducted with humans and dogs in 2003. Petting dogs also results in decreased levels of the primary stress hormone cortisol.
For older people unable to care for a dog, Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey matches therapy dogs with homebound older adults for weekly visits. Whiteman, the executive director, says the group partnered with a local university to measure blood pressure after the visits. They found that blood pressure in the older adults decreased, as described in a study in the Journal of Community Health Nursing in 2016.
Although research has focused on dogs, experts see some of the same benefits with owners of cats, rabbits, birds, fish and other pets.
“Cats get a bad rap,” says Beverly Roberts, a 64-year-old registered nurse who lives in Somers, Conn. She and her husband George have a Maine coon mix, Anthony, and a regular tabby, Boots. “Cats are very independent, and sometimes you feel they’re the boss of the house,” Roberts says. “But they can sense feelings. They can be very aloof, but not to us. If we’re sick and in bed, they watch over us. And when they sit on your lap, you feel like your stress is being released.”
With all this in mind, many retirement communities have pet-friendly policies.
Reviewing these, I think pets could fill a couple important needs in retirement.
As noted in the book You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think (I covered it in How to Have a Happy Retirement), the happiest retirees have social interaction and a good number of core pursuits. Pets could help fulfill these.
Now I’m not saying that pets replace human interaction and probably would not have even suggested they offer a “social” benefit except the comment above says they might. It appears people may derive at least some “social” interaction from pets. It might be a stretch to say that, but it’s worth at least mentioning IMO.
Something that’s probably more palatable for most is that having a pet could be a core pursuit. As noted in the happy retirement post above, “The happy folks have at least 3.5 core pursuits — the activities and interests they love to do.” Having a pet could be one of these for sure, helping people get to a higher number of core pursuits and thus have a happier retirement.
As for all the other benefits of pet ownership, I’ll take a “decreased chance of coronary heart disease, lower blood pressure, lower resting baseline heart rates and blood pressure, significantly smaller increases in heart rate and blood pressure in response to stress, faster recovery from stress, and higher survival rates of heart attack.” What’s not to love about those?
That said, having a pet is more responsibility and for a retiree who wants to travel a ton, it could put a crimp in your style.
As for us, we will probably take one vacation per year like the cruise around Hawaii or the past trips we’ve had to Grand Cayman where we can’t take our cat. For those, we’ll go with the pet/house sitter for him.
For our potential winter quarters in Florida (if we ever get that figured out), we’d probably drive and take him with us.
Anyway, that’s my history with pets as well as an update.
What are your thoughts on pets, associated costs, and the retirement pros and cons to having an animal?
The picture of Zeus is very sweet. I know you would be willing to spend double when you consider all of the love and entertainment Zeus provides. It is fulfilling to spoil pets and grandkids! I am a dog person and have a Labrador Retriever who never leaves my side. Well worth the cost and extra cleaning!
My cat loves to sleep in between my legs too! He ate a piece of yarn one time that had to be surgically removed and that ended up costing us $1,500. Wasn’t fun forking over that money but it was worth it to us.
I have close family that couldn’t afford to take even one of their five pets to the vet if something serious happened. Guess they like living on the edge…
Great cat saga! Zeus looks great. I’ve had cats all my life. When my wife and I bought our first house together, we got two cats – her first pets. They were perfect cats and lived 15 and 16 years. Having them pass so closely to each other was hard on my wife. We’re currently living cat free now and loving the flexibility (especially for travel). She’s pretty sure she never wants another one, but I suspect that we’ll end up getting a cat or two once we’ve retired and decided on our long-term landing spot.
lynne haley says
I grew up with 6 siblings, my parents owned a bakery (worked 24/7 – children included). Our home was surrounded by Nursery’s with large irrigation ponds – meaning we and our pets roamed freely. We always had a collie, and the neighbors collie LOVED ours. We had 2 litters / yr and our pet family grew. We also had cats. AND our collies frequently brought turtles home and played with them in our carport. With that many kids, there were also hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, you name it. My parents never said no, and all were welcomed in our house. My Mother never took a pet to the vet, and they were never sick (although I was young). Fast forward, I’m married with 4 little boys. My kids want a pet – we get cats, (I do take them to the vet). I’m sure they never cost us huge amounts as I’m strict with finances and I was not one to spend freely on the cats. The 3rd child left for college and for some unknown reason I took my husband to the SPCA and we ended up with a Shar Pei-Lab mix. Cute as a button! Alli has been a fabulous dog and provided us with lots of entertainment and fun. I took obedience and search and rescue classes with her. BUT – Alli has sucked a lot of money out of us. Turns out, Shar Pei’s have serious allergies/skin problems, she ate a pot holder and surgery was about $3K, now that she is 14 one leg is weak and we had a brace made. She needs seasonal allergy shots OR I can give her a daily pill – both cost the same, but often she refuses the pill and it is almost animal cruelty trying to get that down her. Our cat is 10 and not our favorite cat, both Alli and Chick Pea will be our last pets unless we move in with someone who has a pet (like our kids or one of us dies and remarries a pet lover). We are both 65 and work from home. We have no intention of retiring as we rather get to do as we please. I own my own business and my cat keeps me company in my studio. The dog keeps my husband company in his office. That said, if I had to do it over again, I’d never get the dog. They make you feel so guilty if you don’t go out for walks with them, etc. Living in Texas with a black dog, we walk the block and the dog hits the pool, then it takes time to get dry enough to get back inside. I’m not work adverse, I’ve worked like a “dog” (pun intended) since I was born. I really do not relax well, relaxation is being overwhelming busy and I enjoy it. But the dog has been really difficult. I love her and will have a tough time when she passes, but I will not run out and get another dog. The cat – she leaves a lot of hair around and if she is mad at my husband (she only likes me), she does take revenge upon him. She has a number of years left and again her passing will be painful. BUT we have discussed this and we will not get another cat. Our pet days are over and that too saddens me. BUT my kids have pets and grandchildren and while I tried hard to convince my eldest not to purchase a $2,500 dalmatian – they had to learn it the hard way. Now there is an EXPENSIVE dog. The other son, could not be talked out of a different designer dog, but he and his girlfriend do not want kids and that dog is obviously some sort of substitution – they have humanized Apollo to the Nth degree. Time will tell if my younger 2 sons get pets. I think it is a catch 22. You are young you get a pet, you go to work, the pet is alone – not so great for dogs, cats could care less. You get a bit older maybe have children, then you have to split your responsibility, expenses go up with children – if finances are tight – you might have to choose where to spend the $$ when a cat or dog or llama or what not is in need vs. a child. But life is to be lived and our lives are richer for our pets involvement. We do have lots of pictures with our various cats and our only dog; and we never frown when we look at those, our smiles say it all.
My husband passed away in November, since then my younger dog has decided to sleep next to me in bed and be hyper protective. It’s very sweet, but also comforting. I have always had pets, even when I was too broke to have them. I kind of don’t care though as they bring me so much joy and comfort. I am a runner and I have always had a running companion (I am now on number 4). I live in Colorado, like you, so all my dogs come from the Denver Dumb Friends League and I think, how lucky to end up with a runner for a dog mom! My latest dog has helped me train through several marathons and has run a few races himself. I call him “enduro dog” lol. Great post, thanks for sharing!
The Tiger King had steep cat expenses.
Cat Lover says
I got 2 new kittens last June after putting down my cat in May. I had both neutered in November. One did great, the other one ended up costing me $2k in vet bills over three months. I would do it again. I LOVE those now 1-year old cats.
They give me so much love and companionship that I could never put a price on. 😻 ❤️ 😻
The Wealthy Weasle says
Wow, I am still trying to digest your SIL thinking you needed to fork over more than $1,000 for a cat…
Zeus looks like a fantastic cat, but it sure seems like jacking you up for more than a grand is excessive.
Glad you got a good one, though!
Dean Erlandson says
Amazing, cat prices have gone up in your area. Pretty much free around here. Pay to get them fixed and they are yours. Pets are kids to empty nesters. We have two dogs and they are like our children now. Next will be a kitten but not forking out over 100 bucks for it!
I seem to be a magnet for special needs cats. My last two cats both had “special” health needs which involved extensive extra costs over many years. When I lost my last one I had probably an extra $75/100 a month on average left over and my travel budgets shrunk because I no longer needed to plan for pet sitters. I am on a cat break right now. I have had some opportunities for long term travel for work and I could not take the assignments with a pet. I was in Asia for three months last summer. I know I want to travel extensively for several years when I retire in eight years. This may even include being location agnostic for a few years. I am hesitant to adopt again knowing I want to have these plans in the future. Cats can live a long time.
I grew up with dogs. My dad was allergic to cats. My wife loves dogs and cats so we have both. I’m curious, why in the heck would you spend $1,000 though? And then your daughter didn’t think that was enough?!? He doesn’t look like a special breed. I’ve never heard of someone paying that much for a cat unless they are into show cats or something.
Didn’t I say why?
Chris CD says
“I gave such a large number because I wanted to be generous, make it happen quickly, and not go back and forth in negotiating. I wanted a number that would cut to the chase and $1,000 seemed like a round number that did so.”
In that respect, yes, but then I can’t fathom anyone thinking that number was not generous. As soon as the other party balked, I would have gone to a shelter and found one just as cute, just as sweet and for a lot less. Your number was astronomically generous. Saying no to that would really put a crimp in my relationship with that person.
You can select for “cute” for sure.
You can NOT select for “sweet”.
That’s part of the point…
I’m disappointed that you chose to declaw. It is inhumane no matter the method.
If you have a dog and take it to a dog park, maybe that is the social aspect they are referring to?
You seem to be taking very good care of your cat and that’s adorable.
This is a pet story I truly enjoyed!
You could do great things as a novelist, you know?
I love cats to excess, probably because of their sizes, I even prefer super miniature ones.
Financial Mechanic says
We are recent cat owners as well. We decided to foster in order to help out the local shelter and so we wouldn’t be stuck with a “dud” cat. Instead, we got a dog-cat, who runs to the door when we get home, has learned how to roll-over, and is always snuggled up on a lap or at least in the same room. We fostered him for 3 months and the shelter covered all of his food, toy, and vet bills in that time, including neutering. We adopted him for half the fee because they were doing a Halloween sale: $50 total.
Now to the part I don’t agree with you… Declawing became “bad” like smoking became “bad”. Just because you’ve done it for years doesn’t justify doing it now. I didn’t know what declawing entailed before I got a cat of my own, but once I learned about the procedure, trauma, and behavior problems that come from it– that’s a no from me. It’s even illegal in my state. We keep our kitty’s nails trimmed and he hasn’t damaged any furniture, preferring our $15 rug we set aside as a ‘scratching post’. I’m glad your Zeus seems to be doing fine, and that you’ve found a great companion after 20 years pet-less.
Ah, why didn’t they give you the cat instead of charging you for it..still scratching my head over that one. Just seems wierd for a family member to do. And then to extort a raise? Am I alone here?
Papa Foxtrot says
My wife freaked out to the pictures of Zeus. She loves cats. And I believe people easily overlook the effect cats have on people. My wife and I do not own a cat (landlord’s choice, not ours), but cats still bring her joy. Once she came back from work very upset and she said she would tell me about it after she checked the mail. In one of them was a cute kitten picture from an advertisement. She loved the picture so much even today we have no idea what she was upset about. Cats just help eliminate stress.
Shaun Connell says
This is awesome. I’ve always been a 110% no-pets-homeowner… until I met my girlfriend, who is cat obsessed. She even has a blog dedicated to cats that she’s trying to get to a breakeven point.
Long story short, I now have a cat named Toby who has been shockingly expensive. I recently bought him some catnip cigars so we can chill together. Totally worth the money.
Money is just a tool. I never thought an indoor cat would be something I’d spend money on, but life throws you hairballs. Er, curveballs. 😉
That picture of Zeus by the door- too adorable for words!
Our dog also sleeps in-between my husband’s legs! Must be a daddy bonding thing.
RE: Pet costs…. I would break these down into routine/annual and non-routine/end-of-life vet care. The real kicker is the non-routine and end-of-life veterinary costs. I spent tens of thousands on eye surgery, arthritis care, kidney failure, etc. When you love your pets like your kids, you don’t watch the $$, and they add up quickly.
I really enjoyed reading about your pet history and your newest family member Zeus!
We have two cats, Riley and Dunkin who I couldn’t imagine not having as part of our family.
Like you and Zeus, both cats lay between our legs. Riley even likes to hide under my wife’s blanket when it’s cold outside.
We recently lost our maine coon mix, Hunter, last year. He was 16 and had developed cancer. We did everything we could to save him, racking up $3,000+ vet bills in the process.
In our experience the day to day expenses are relatively mundane, but the one-off vet expenses are what really drive up the costs of owning a pet.
I completely agree that people shouldn’t have pets unless they’re prepared financially to take care of them just like you would any other member of your family.
Steve (NWOutlier) says
HA! I read this article back when it was first posted…. I have to say, wow pets can be expensive. Short story – when growing up as a child we had like 2-3 cats, 2-3 dogs at all times.. (as the kid, I had to do the clean up)… I said to myself, I will NEVER have this many pets (not writing off pets completely)… fast forward 25 years… having a kid, wife, one cat, then two… then add a dog (total 3 pets) lost the dog (story for another time)… get 2 more dogs (so now 4 pets) then a nephew was going to send the best behaved dog in the world to the pound cause he was young and could not have a pet in his apt… now I have 3 dogs, 2 cats.. EXACTLY what I said I would not…. that isn’t the 1/2 of it. the new pets did not know how to stay within the property lines like my old pets… so 6000 bucks for a fence… then one puppy broke it’s leg, emergency surgery 4500 bucks… and the new pets seem to bark, so we have vibrating/beeping collars to remind them not to bark.. yet more money…
Love the pets – wow are they expensive. Happy for FIRE community to help us understand how to keep the heat on savings so we don’t drown….
When these pets live their pampered life, I believe I will have 0-1 pet going forward. 🙂
We ended up with a dog, somewhat unexpectedly. He’s been with us for about five months. We take him for two walks per day, very short as he can’t walk far. We have now met almost all the neighbors – many we hadn’t met before and we’ve lived in our house for over 20 years. They all have dogs or are just out walking. I think dog ownership in the suburbs is something like having a front porch was about 75 years ago.