I have had a number of pets in my life. Fish, frogs, a hedgehog, my brother had a dog, but my most favorite of all was my cat. His name was Tommy. There’s just something about having a furry friend. He was such a comfort to me and I loved that he would sit with me, fuss at me if I didn’t feed him fast enough and wake up every morning with him.
I got him from my Papa when I was just 7 or 8 years old. We kinda grew up together. After being sick for a very long time I decided to have him put to sleep this summer. It was a very hard decision to make and I will explain more about that a little later.
As I’m missing Tommy (so much!) and starting to think about the possibilities of getting a kitten I’m really considering the expenses that go with owning a pet. Most teens have parents that take care of pet expenses but it’s something we should think about when deciding if we should get a pet or not. Now that I’m older I am responsible for vet expenses so I have to carefully look at my budget before getting a kitten.
How To Budget For A Pet
This is just the stuff like food, toys and an annual visit to the vet for shots. The daily stuff that you have to have. Well. I guess you don’t ever have to buy your new pet a toy but that would make you a terrible person. We spent about $30 a month for food and a couple of dollars every now and then for treats or a toy. We went to a low cost vet (which meant super long wait times but at least 50% off regular vet fees) so shots for Tommy and his flea meds were less than $100 a year. All total it turned out to be about $41 a month.
From what I have read it seems like dogs are slightly more expensive than cats so keep that in mind if you are thinking about a puppy or a dog.
Extra Vet Expenses:
It’s nice to think that your pet will never get sick, or injured, and will just need to go to the vet once a year. Nice but not realistic. Dogs and cats can live well over 10 years and chances are that they will have to go to the vet for some sort of sick care. And it’s expensive. I had a special envelope just for Tommy in my budgeting system. Mom paid for his normal expenses like food and treats but I was responsible for vet care. My goal was to put $20 a month into the envelope. It built up over the years until I had quite a bit in there. I’m glad I saved it in the end though because I spend every cent I had saved in the last year or so of his life.
This is not an expense that I ever had to pay but most people do at some point. Whenever we would go out of town my Papa and Mimi would watch over our pets for us and come feed them every day. You could also save quite a bit by paying a friend to come and take care of them as well. When I looked it up, boarding in my area for a cat is $16-$20 per night and $25-$30 per night for a dog. The up side of boarding your animal is that many kennels will bathe your dog (and cat), trim their nails, administer meds, and all sorts of other things if you want to pay the extra fees. It would be nice to come home to a pet that is clean and happy. You can even pay them to play with your animal one on one…
This is where dogs are much more expensive than cats particularly if the dog you get needs some sort of special haircut. I did have Tommy bathed twice in his life because he got fleas from being outside and I wanted to get them off him quickly. He really loved it in case you wondered. 😉 Grooming can range anywhere from $25 – $45 depending on the size of your dog. Even if you just took them every other month you can see how quickly it will add up. You can always bathe them yourself at home but remember they need to have their ears cleaned, nails trimmed, and other sorts of things you might not know how to do (but you can learn).
Another thing to consider is the expense of having a pet if you are renting a house or apartment. When you get a little older and are living on your own you will probably want to bring your pet with you. Just be prepared financially. If you have a pet most places will require a non-refundable pet deposit. Animals can do a lot of damage to a home so a lot of places won’t even let you have a pet at all. Pet deposits average about $250 per pet.
There’s A Way To Be A Person:
Just this year my brother and I have rescued nine animals. Eight kittens and one rabbit. At least six of the animals were abandoned by people. Terrible people who didn’t take care of the animals they were responsible to care for. Early in the year someone abandoned a litter of kittens in an apartment complex. They were the size of twinkies and didn’t even have their eyes open yet. They were left outside in a box with a filthy towel in January. We got kitten milk and eye droppers and fed them around the clock for about four days until a wonderful woman from the local shelter took over for us. All of the kittens survived and have been adopted.
The next set of kittens were from a feral cat in my grandparents neighborhood. My brother and his financee found one kitten, and then found two more within a week. They bottle fed all of them but unfortunately one of the kittens didn’t make it. They have the two remaining kittens and are taking care of them now. They are both doing great, have been to the vet, and just got fixed.
So the rabbit. For about a week I noticed a bunny in my neighbors yard almost every day. A big, gray, fluffy bunny with floppy ears. I knew it wasn’t a wild rabbit. One day my neighbor was outside feeding the bunny some carrots and I went over. Come to find out that some horrible person in our neighborhood had gotten the rabbit for their kids. The kids didn’t want him anymore SO THEY LET HIM GO. He was friendly and we were able to catch him. The poor thing was scared to death. Thankfully I have a friend who has all the stuff for a bunny and her bunny had died a while ago. She came out the next day and picked him up so now he is being well cared for in a nice home.
If you are going to get a pet you need to be able to take care of it. Letting it go or leaving it out to die is not okay. If you can’t care for it then it is your responsibility to find your pet a loving home or as a last resort you can take him to a shelter so someone else can adopt him. There’s a way to be a person…
Oh – back to Tommy. Tommy had a disease in his mouth that made it very difficult and painful for him to eat. We tried to treat it for about two years but it just kept getting worse. I finally used the last $200 I had saved to take him to a specialist. She told us that all of his teeth would have to be removed and that there was only a 30% chance the surgery would work. There would be two surgeries and the cost would be $1,800 for each phase. I loved my cat and wanted him to get better. However, there is a limit to what most of us can invest in our animals. He was in pain, there was a good chance the surgery wouldn’t even work, and clearly I do not have $3,600. I made the difficult decision to have him put to sleep to end his suffering. It was absolutely horrible, as you can imagine. I miss him every day but am confident that I made the best decision for him and for me.
You will enjoy your pet so much more if you take care of them and know your financial limits. Here’s to Tommy…