I grew up with a house full of cats, hamsters, birds and fish. Not always at the same time but we were definitely animal lovers who had an extra soft spot for cats. At one point we had six cats after one of our outdoor male cats ended up pregnant (we were waiting on getting him neutered until after an infection cleared up, we ended up finding out he was a she only after he had a litter of three kittens). The kittens were vaccinated and given to a good home but we maintained our three kitties who lived good long lives with us.
All of our cats were outdoor cats where we lived on a quite street and the cats wouldn’t wonder beyond a few houses down the street or through the back woods (which they were protected from in the form of a 10 foot security fence stretching the backyard of everyone on the street). They were safe, happy and healthy cats. Other than our oldest who ended up dying from kidney failure at the age of 18, the other two are still alive into their 20’s.
When I moved out on my own, I was excited about getting a cat of my own for my husband and I to enjoy and add to our little family. Having a good understanding of cats growing up in a suburban zoo, I was pretty confident that I had a realistic understanding of what the cat was going to cost us. I would need the obvious stuff like cat food, vaccinations, spay/neuter, annual check-ups and stuff like litter. Since I knew our cat would be an indoor cat I was confident that with proper care she would live a good, long, healthy life.
Boy was I surprised when our first emergency vet visit (something totally new to me as a pet owner) cost us over $2000.
Our seven month old kitten started vomiting, refusing food and water and meowing in pain. I knew something was up after two days so we took her in. After a week of vet visits, being admitted for a few days and having every test known to cats (minus exploratory surgery) administered, and coming back negative, she ended up getting diagnosed with IBS.
Long story short, she has an inflammatory disease that we need to manage. We know what her triggers are (hairballs, anything but prescription vet food) so we’re pretty good at managing it now. I know what to look out for and can tell the difference between needing to call the vet for IV fluids and appetite stimulants and managing at home for three to four days. We’re on a treatment plan of food now that seems to finally be working really well. At over $40/bag it isn’t cheap but at a minimum of $500/visit per ”flare-up” it’s much cheaper to manage this was then buying cheap food (that my outdoor cats growing up ate) and dealing with repercussions.
Keeping her well groomed (which came with investing in a $30 cat brush) has help a lot too since hairballs can sometimes be the starting trigger for her IBS (cat hair alone can be an irritant).
Over a year we ended up spending close to $2500 in vet bills. I’m thankful to say this past year, other than food and vaccinations we haven’t been to the vet at all. I have friends who think we’re crazy for spending this kind of money on a cat. Hell, I’m the first to admit I could use the money in many other areas too but she’s our cat. I never once considered euthanizing her for a medical condition.
Pets are expensive. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across people getting into animal ownership not having any sweet clue how expensive they can be and don’t have the means to treat them properly. If you can’t afford to take care of them when they’re sick, and can’t afford to keep them healthy (buying proper food, annual vet visits etc) then you can’t afford to have a pet that requires special attention. Wait until you’re in a better spot financially and you and your pet will be much happier!