The Serious Side of Cat Ownership…
We love our four cats and, in a very short time, they’ve learned to live together very harmoniously. But there are many considerations and much more to think about than whether you can provide love. I thought I would put down some of the things we’ve faced recently then, if you’re thinking about getting a cat (particularly if you’re considering more than one), you can see what you’ll need to be aware of.
Food & sanitation
It’s easy to look at food, pick up something that looks good value and think you’re done. We certainly did when we first got the boys. For a while we fed them on dry food only but Razz has urinary problems on a dry diet so we reverted to a wet dry mix. We’ve also done the same with the kittens. This is what they have:
- Kain: Wet pouches & Iams chicken = £150
- Razz:Wet pouches & a mix of Hills Science Oral Care & Royal Canin Dental = £185
- Buggles & Charlie: Wet pouches & Iams kitten = £265
Although some cats are happy to do their business outside, many (particularly rescue cats) will be used to a litter tray. We have four: two downstairs, two upstairs and all are changed daily. We use about half a bag of a litter (or 5 litres) per day. We’re fortunate that our cats are happy to use the cheap stuff but some cats can be finicky and litter can end up costing a lot more than we pay.
- 182 bags of litter per year = £273
- Litter accessories (scoops, trays, cleaning spray) = £25
Total yearly estimate for our four cats: £898
Routine health/pet insurance
There are a number of things that it’s recommended you do regularly to look after your cat, such as annual check-ups boosters and regular flea prevention and worming. The cost of these things very much depends on the price your vet practice charges and where you buy things like Drontal and Frontline. I’ve just listed the amount it costs us at present.
- Vaccinations and check-up: £35 per cat = £140
- Frontline – one pipette every five weeks, at cost of £18 for six pipettes = £140
- Drontal worming tablets – one tablet every 3 months £1.50 per tablet = £24
There’s also pet insurance to consider and you really should. Imagine if you have two or three cats and they all required treatment? I worked in pet insurance for a while and it was not at all uncommon for households to have multiple claims ongoing for different pets. If you need visits and medication every month it could cost you hundreds. Whilst it’s true that pet insurance doesn’t cover for everything (vaccinations, dental work and prescription food being the most common exclusions), it is a godsend for unexpected conditions or injuries. Pet insurance costs vary considerably, so again I’ve listed what we pay.
- M&S Pet Insurance for four cats at £7.64 a month each = £366.72
Total yearly estimate for our four cats: £670.72
I’m not going to even go into the ‘should you holiday if you have cats’ debate. Some say yes, some say no. I say, there will be times when you will have to put your cat into a cattery, unless you have good neighbours or someone who can cat sit. It may be a holiday, it may be an emergency. We have a superb cattery nearby with excellent fees but be aware that some can be much more than this.
- Boarding fees at £18 per day (for all four) for two weeks = £252
- Pick up and drop off fees = £40
Total yearly estimate for our four cats: £292
Okay, so they’re not necessarily day-to-day purchases but there are going to be things you need to buy, either because you don’t have one or to replace an old one. Things such as bedding, toys, litter trays. I estimate we easily spend £200 on these things in an average year.
Total yearly estimate for our four cats: £200
This may never be an issue or, if you’re unlucky, it could be your biggest cost. Even with a pet insurance policy, there are things that aren’t covered, such as pre-existing conditions and dental work. You’ll also have an excess so if you have a one-off trip to the vet costing £45 and your excess is £50 you won’t be able to claim. (This works differently for ongoing conditions, however, where you can save your receipt and claim when the total treatment across multiple trips exceeds the excess).
Recently we’ve had the following visits:
- Buggles – eye infection – 2 consultions, plus antibiotic shot, plus antibiotic tablets = £69
- Charlie – virus – 2 consultations, plus antibiotic & anti-inflammatory shots, plus antibiotic tablets = £69
- Razz – tartar – 1 consultation, plus scale and polish under general anaesthetic = £140
We’ve had Razz and Kain for one year and Buggles and Charlie for a few weeks. I’m not saying you will have to pay this amount every year but you need to be aware that it’s a distinct possibility so budget for at least this amount (and significantly more if you don’t have insurance).
Total yearly estimate for our four cats: £500
Phew! Well, I think that’s everything, though there are bound to be things I’ve missed. What’s the grand total? It’s pretty staggering at £2560.72 (or £640.18 per cat).
If it sounds scary, it needn’t be. If you can afford to have them and can give them time and love, cats are wonderful pets and any cat owner will tell you great tales about them. There are things to consider, though and cost and time are the two big factors. Animal shelters are seeing more and more cases of people who can’t afford their cats. Like dogs, they are for life.