The Cost of Pet Ownership: Adding Two New Kittens to Our Home

My boyfriend and I recently adopted two kittens from a local kitten rescue organization. They take in kittens and cats that have been abandoned by their owners or that are strays (including some that are found by animal control, which frequently kills the animals it finds because there are just so many). Then they get the animals spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and find loving homes for as many as possible.

While it's possible to get a kitten for free initially by getting it from someone whose cat has had kittens or from someone who found kittens, it ends up being more expensive in the long run because the kittens need several vaccinations, a deworming pill, and spaying or neutering.

Not only do all of these things cost more money than the rescue agency charges for the kitten, it also takes time to make all those trips to the vet. And, very young kittens need intense care, including bottle feeding several times a day, which most people don't have the time or knowledge to handle. What's more, we already had two adult cats and didn't want to risk exposing them to any diseases by bringing cats of questionable health into the household. By going through the rescue organization, we knew we were getting cats that didn't have feline leukemia virus or any other preventable illnesses and supporting people who do good things (as opposed to professional cat breeders--why breed cats when there are already so many out there that thousands are euthanized every year because there aren't enough people to take them all in?).

The adoption fee was $95 per kitten, but since one of us itemizes deductions on our tax return now that we have a mortgage and the adoption fee is technically considered a donation to a non-profit organization, the real cost is only around $60 per kitten. We will also have to pay for one more vaccine per kitten, and our litter and food costs will be about $25 a month. Also, we think one of the kittens needs to see a vet, which will probably cost us at least $100 in the near future, plus there is the cost of a second litter box and, eventually, two more cat carriers. While it's unlikely that we would ever take all four cats somewhere at once, we want to make sure we have the ability to pack them all up and go in case of an emergency.

Assuming the new kittens live 15 to 20 years, since they will be indoor-only cats, the lifetime cost of owning them in terms of litter and food alone will be between $2250 and $3000 per cat. That sounds like a lot when you add it up, doesn't it? Neither of us has ever had an elderly cat before, so we're not sure what medical expenses might be involved when they get older, and of course, there is always the chance that an expensive medical procedure could become necessary even before they are old. Since we already have two cats, we are now actually spending a minimum of $50 a month to have pets.

It does sound like a lot, but as most people who have pets (or children, for that matter) will tell you, the cost is really beside the point. Is the company, affection, and joy of having these animals worth $1.67 a day to me? You bet!

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Post by Amy Fontinelle

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