Everyday Living, Where My Money Goes

The cost of keeping a pet

When the Cat and I got together – that was August 2001 – he was something of a bargain basement deal. I paid my neighbors $15 and got a six-month old kitten, some litter and half a bag of cat food.

I had a revelation once about my cat – I acquired him at one of the loneliest times of my life. It sounds kind of dumb, but when I was living totally alone, I wasn’t accountable to anyone. I only had to show up for work – otherwise, I lived on my own little island for the year before he showed up. So yeah – I am one of those people. I don’t dress my cat in stupid clothing, but I talk to him like he actually understands what I say and the pictures of the Cat far outweigh pictures that I have of other member of my family.

And when it comes to the cost of maintaining said Cat, he’s pretty low maintenance except for the prescription food he’s been on since Wisconsin. That puts me back about $30 every couple months or so.

And although this will raise the ire of some of my readers – the Cat hasn’t been to a vet since Wisconsin. Let me explain – he’s an indoor cat and lives in a one-cat household. And aside from some urinary problems that he had in Wisconsin and the fact that he’s a chubby tub of a cat, he’s a pretty healthy cat.

At least he was until last Wednesday night when he was perched on his litter box and let out a god-awful howl. After $400 and a trip to the emergency vet clinic, Husband and I discovered that my cat has “angry urine” and must have passed a kidney stone – hence the howling. It turns out that he has another stone that’s higher up in his bladder and we’re hoping that a mix of medication and some wet food will dissolve this one so he can pass it without problems.

So why hadn’t I brought my Cat to the vet sooner? What’s a polite way of saying that my cat is an absolute bastard when he gets into the vet’s office? He loves his carrier, he loves car rides, but as soon as we walk into a vet’s office he recognizes that vet office smell. He starts hissing and growling. This is just walking into the door at the vet’s office – it gets worse when we get into the exam office itself. That’s when the very vocal growling starts and some high-octave yowling. If a vet tech isn’t careful, they’re a prime candidate for a swipe of Digger’s paw and maybe even a bite if they go too near any sensitive part of him. But who am I joking – when it comes to going to the vet, every part of the Cat is sensitive. He’s in survival mode and is pretty frightening for a 13 pound ball of fur. Going to the vet is right up there with root canals and annual exams.

The Cat has a few more visits set in his future – he’s still on medication and as soon as that’s over, we’ll need to take him to the vet again to see the progress on his kidney stone and to see if his “angry urine” has calmed down at all. The emergency vet we went to recommended that we request a sedative to give to the cat about an hour before his next vet appointment, but Digger’s new “regular” vet said they frown upon sedation.

Well – they haven’t met my cat yet in all of his pissed off glory.

I very much struggle with this portion of taking care of my cat. Ninety-nine percent of the time he’s fine, but it’s that one percent that gives me pause. I know that I just need to suck it up and accept that for one hour per year of my life, existence will suck for my cat and I. Because pets are an investment and if I’m going to be a good pet owner, I have to accept the cost of taking care of my cat.


This post is just fair warning to the vets that we’ll be visiting – he looks sweet, but looks can be deceiving.

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5 thoughts on “The cost of keeping a pet

  1. We’ve debated the need for yearly vet visits too, since our cats are indoor cats, and beyond the initial spay/neuter and vaccinations, what can they possibly get if they stay inside all the time?

    Being first-time pet owners, we’re probably overly cautious and have now done two yearly checkups, but when I see how much it costs for the vet to tell us they’re in perfect health (which we pretty much already knew)….once a year might not be necessary. Particularly if you are taking good care of them.

    I liken this to dentist and eye checkups – ok, going to the dentist every 6 months is probably good, but if I went once a year or even once every two years, would it really change my results, assuming I didn’t have some sort of tooth accident or injury? Cavities aren’t immediately debilitating. Same thing with eyes – I don’t wear glasses, I have 20/20 vision, and I have a checkup once every two years – just to tell me I still have 20/20 vision and that I’m fine. If my insurance didn’t cover these checkups, I would definitely consider not doing them.

  2. I wouldn’t skip too many dental appointments! I did that for about 13 years (ok, so maybe that was kinda extreme) and ended up forking out RM6600 (about US2000) for two root canals and the crowns that go with them. Major ouch. I do have optical and dental benefits from my employer, but it’s only up to RM500 (about US147), so most of it had to come from my savings – it already blew my emergency funds right out of the water!

    Lovely cat by the way!

  3. I have a cat with a similar disposition. She weighs less than 5 lbs, but she’s a holy terror at the vet. My former vet once took her into the back office to draw blood. I heard a loud crash of metal and then a lot of commotion. When they returned, both the vet and my cat were bandaged. Evidently, the electric shaver had freaked her out, and she bit him and scrambled away, and the staff had to catch her. After that, the vet always asked me to come back and talk to and stroke her while he was drawing blood (through her fur).

    However, when I moved two years ago, I warned the new vet about her behavior, but she has never behaved badly with the new vet. She’s been seeing the new vet for two years without so much of a growl.

    Good luck with the new vet. Maybe your kitty will respond to this one better.

    Regarding annual vet visits: I think it’s fine to skip them when the cats are young, strictly indoor, and appear to be healthy, but after age 12, they can develop easily treated chronic kidney, liver, or thyroid issues that can only be detected with bloodwork, so it’s much more important to have regular check-ups at that point.

  4. I never considered skipping the annual vet visit until I inadvertently did it last year. This summer when I went to bring our kitty to the vet, I mentioned to the receptionist that it felt a lot longer than a year ago that I’d brought him – she kindly let me know it had in fact been two years. I had her double check her records to be sure.

    Of course, kitty is in perfect health – as I suspected. And they didn’t even tell me he had to lose weight. 15lbs is fine. He also had a urinary issue when he was younger but he has been on a prescription dry food (that we add water to at each feeding) and hasn’t had an issue since (knock on wood).

    I’ll have to check our insurance policy, but I think regular check-ups might be a prerequisite for any of our payouts for emergency services….

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