Can You Really Afford That Furry Friend?

Afford That Furry Friend?

Congratulations, you’ve decided that your household needs a pet, either a dog or cat. That’s a fantastic decision, and the millions of dogs and cats out there that need and want a home thank you for deciding to let one of them into your home. You’re on the verge of joining one of the most awesome fellowships anyone can be part of; that of a pet owner. Way to go!

But like any other significant decision, you need to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. In this case, it’s counting the cost of pet ownership. Nothing is so heart-breaking as adopting a pet, only to return it to the shelter months later because of a flawed grasp of the financial responsibility involved. The family is bummed, the shelter is bummed, and even the pet takes an emotional hit. Animals do have feelings, you know.

Furry Friend

Pets bring love, companionship, and fun to our lives; just make sure your budget can accommodate one (or more!)

That’s why we’re about to take a look at what’s involved in getting a dog or cat, from the financial standpoint. By getting a good idea what’s required financially, heartbreak can be avoided.

The Difference Between Dogs And Cats
It’s been said that owning a dog is more like having a child than owning a cat is. Dogs are more high-maintenance, and, when comparing a healthy cat and a healthy dog, the latter is more responsibility, and as a rule costs more. As one may expect, the costs for a large dog are more than for a smaller dog.

Adoption Fees
Assuming that you’re not going to a breeder (which usually means mucho bucks anyway) and instead are taking your business to the local shelter or humane society, you can expect to pay anything from a couple hundred dollars to nothing, especially if there’s some sort of promotion going on.

In fact, if you time it just right, some of those promotions also include spay/neuter costs, as well as initial shots. With any luck, you can save a bundle, which can set you on your way for a less expensive experience overall.

Incidentally, as an aside, if you are ever in the position of having puppies or kittens that you want to place in a home, do NOT give them away for free. The news is filled with real stories of people who snatch up free animals and do horrendous things like sell them for testing, use them as training bait for dog fights, or just plain outright abuse them in some pointless way. Charging even $20 or so filters out at least some of those sadists who want to be cruel but don’t want to pay for the experience.

That First Year
Okay, back to something a bit more cheerful. According to the information provided in the “Financing Your Furry Friend”infographic, the first-year costs for a cat and a small dog are roughly in the same neighborhood, around $1190, while a large dog is in the $1900 range.

Those first-year costs include things like shots, fixing (unless that was handled as a package deal at the adoption), some means of conveyance, a collar/leash arrangement, and other “start-up” medical expenses.

The Annual Stuff
Once you have all that first year and adoption stuff squared away, then you dig in for the long haul, taking care of things like food, toys, medical responsibilities, licenses, and, if you have a cat, litter.

In fact, litter is where cats run more expensively than dogs do, since dogs do their business outside. But on the other hand, a cat doesn’t need to be let out or walked. It’s a nice trade-off.

The one thing that you should really consider getting, if at all possible, is pet health insurance. Many places of employment offer it as part of their benefits package, which means you can usually get a good deal on it. Not only does a decent pet health insurance policy cover most if not all of the cost of an annual check-up (as well as medical emergencies), but by taking your pet in for a regular check-up there is a greater chance of spotting something wrong before it becomes a serious (as in, expensive or fatal) issue. In the long run, it saves money. If you have multiple pets, you can even get a group discount.

Cats’ low maintenance also means less money for grooming, although having an occasional grooming session for your feline is a good idea. Dogs usually require more work, and that usually includes things like a bath, which as we all know can be a task and a half.

Your Actual Mileage May Vary
Despite the numbers shown on the infographic, there really is no actual hard and fast set of expense figures. A lot of what you pay for depends on how many good breaks you get in areas like promotions and specials. There are also choices a pet owner can make that may increase or decrease those figures.

For instance, many veterinarians recommend moist cat food over the dry stuff. As it happens, the moist cat food tends to be slightly more expensive, and involves a little more work than the “pour some dry food into a dish and forget it” approach. But moist cat food tends to give cats more water, which is crucial, and helps them stay at a good weight, and all of that means fewer health issues down the road.

Also, not every pet owner wants all of the listed items, though the more attention an owner pays to the well-being of their pet(s), the healthier and happier they are, which translates into less issues and an overall more pleasant experience for all involved.

Pets Are Awesome
At the end of the day, no matter if you adopt a dog or a cat, having a pet is a terrific, rewarding experience that adds an extra dimension of fun and affection into your life. The return you get in terms of love and loyalty is well worth it. Check out “How To Choose The Right Pet For Your Lifestyle”, and adopt one soon!

Byline: John Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. He’s owned dogs and cats, and currently has three cats who rule the roost.