I’m going to put it out there right at the start – A pet is ALWAYS a ‘Frugality Fail’ (as we like to call those not-very-thrifty financial decisions on this blog). Now, let me assure you that I am an unabashed lover of most animals (except spiders and roaches), and my own pet is totally adored.
That said, our cat is BY FAR the most expensive member of our household.
We found our cat, Gringo, when he was included as the ”Pet of the Week” from the animal shelter in our local newspaper. I told myself that a shelter cat would be ‘hardy.’ Plus, he’d been at the shelter for quite some time and could only go to a home where he’d be an indoor cat (he’s totally deaf).
We brought Gringo home and whilst he seemed O.K. with the situation, he was licking off giant patches of fur and howling in the middle of the night.
At first, the vet thought Gringo might be extremely allergic to fleas, so Gringo took special flea tablets for three months ($30/month). No luck. Then, the vet suggested Gringo had food sensitivities, so we started him on a diet of special cat food ($95/month). No dice.
At this point, Gringo had to wear a Collar of Shame to keep him from obsessively over-grooming. He expressed his displeasure by peeing on the carpet ($200 x 2 attempts for carpet cleaning + cost of new carpet). Next, it was special pheromone spray to help the cat relax ($30/ bottle). Not a chance.
A special steroid cream for his bald spots didn’t stop the licking either ($45/tube). And the bitter taste meant to keep him from licking? It just made him throw up.
At this point, we were completely stressed out ourselves. It was my sister who said one day, ”It sounds like that cat needs anti-anxiety meds. My friend’s cat had some of the same issues and now she gets it medication from Wal-Mart for like $4 a month and it’s fine.”
We returned to the vet, admitted defeat, and said that we might have to take the cat back to the shelter unless we could find some medication that worked. And guess what? We did find medication that works! But no joke, it costs $1.50/day. He’ll be on it for life. Note: I’m a psychologist, and I’m trying to appreciate the irony that my cat needs this kind of medication.
The story doesn’t end here though. One year later, we were still paying $95/month for food, $1.50/day for meds, and vet visits every six months. Then one day, my husband left the door open and Gringo escaped, but we managed to find him. Now, remember he can’t hear, so when I grabbed him from behind, he had no idea what was going on so he turned around and bit my hand hard.
After we got Gringo back to the house, I figured I’d need to go up to the hospital (it was after regular business hours) for a tetanus shot. But, of course, he bit me on a joint, which turned out to be a big deal. I ended up in the hospital for two days and required surgery under general anaesthesia. (another $500).
I know we love our pets, and they play a valuable role in our lives. But if we look at just the ‘dollars and cents’ aspect of pet ownership, it’s never a wise financial decision!