We talk about how expensive our kids can be, but what about our fur babies?
I’m an animal lover of all, even the not-so-pretty ones, but my family pet of choice is a cat. I grew up with a house full of them (we had four at one point) and my husband and I currently have one spoiled three-year-old kitty we both adore. We were discussing eventually getting a dog, but it won’t be for a long time given how expensive our cat has proven to be.
Our Family Pet Expenses
Our cat was diagnosed with irritable bowel disease (IBD) a few months after we got her. This was an annoyingly expensive diagnosis to make. Outside of exploratory surgery, we had almost every diagnostic test done for a feline just to have the vet eventually tell us that the episodes of vomiting, diarrhea and not eating were being brought on my an irritation. Something we would basically have the deal with for the rest of her life. She was right. Every six to eight months we end up at the vets office having our cat’s episodic symptoms treated. It is not cheap.
This post isn’t about how expensive my cat is. It is to alert you that, though cats are generally a lower maintenance animal, it isn’t always the truth. We got our cat with a clean bill of health and no obvious issues only to find out a few months later she had a health condition that would ultimately end up costing us thousands. This may be true for any pet.
Why You Need to Budget for a Family Pet
It breaks my heart when I hear stories of animal neglect and abuse. It makes me even sadder when I find out the neglect is brought on because the owners simply didn’t have the finances in order to properly care for the animal.
Until this cat, I’ve never considered pet insurance, but with her diagnosis, my husband and I seriously considered it for the first time. In our situation it didn’t make sense, given that they wouldn’t cover her pre-existing conditions, but you better believe it is something I will obtain for all future pets. With our little fur baby, we’ve become pretty good at recognizing triggers and knowing what to do before it escalates into a full-blown (read: budget busting) episode so deal with them as they arise.
Ways to Lower Your Family Pet Expenses
In order for us to keep emergency vet bills lower, we have opted to maintain her on a more expensive diet. Our experience is that paying more for the higher quality food causes less flare-ups, (one to two per year versus upwards of five). Yes, our monthly costs are higher in the ‘pet food’ category, but paying more for a good quality food leads to less emergency vet visits which have the potential to be extremely expensive.
When you chose to add a pet to your family, it is only fair to the animal to care for it in every way required. You are choosing to bring them into your life, your family. If you can’t afford the proper food or vet care, maybe now isn’t the time to be thinking about a pet. I’ve had friends look at us like we were nuts when we tell them how much we spend on our cat, and ask us why we wouldn’t just have her put down and be done with it all. Why? Because we love her and have accepted responsibility of her. If it got to a point we couldn’t care for her we would do our best to find someone who could. We didn’t give up on her just because she costs more than a $15.00 bag of cat food every month.
Even without an emergency every arising, your pet will still need normal care. Everything from food, to common pest treatments, annual vet exams and treatments, affordable pet vaccinations, age or breed related illnesses, the list goes on. There is so much more to consider outside of feeding and playing with your pet.
If you’re thinking about getting a pet, or have one now, consider adding a ‘pet expense’ category to your budget so if an emergency arises, and you don’t have pet insurance, you have the funds without risking the rest of your family’s needs.
Do you have a dedicated category for your family pet in your budget?