Living With Animals: Cost Of Caring For A Pet

By Hope Bidegainberry on January 18, 2019
A golden retriever dog and three kittens are indoors in a living room. They are playing on the floor together. One kitten is climbing on the dog and one of the other kittens.

I had a call from some money magazine reporter (you know, best car under $25,000., pay off your mortgage in 15 years, etc.) asking about the cost of caring for a pet. Not a completely dumb question but pretty darn close, since the variables are so extreme and so unpredictable, but that was not the way to respond to a reporter who makes her living writing stories with titles like “Five $5.00 5-Minute Meals.” So please don’t tell but while on the phone with a reporter interviewing me on how much it costs to take care of a dog or a cat I did a quick web-search for “how much does it cost to take care of a dog or a cat” to see what I could find. According to a recent article on the website “money under 30”, the first year cost of life with a dog runs an average $1,270., first year with a cat is $1,070. Veterinary costs led the way, followed by food. Annual costs after Year 1 were reported as $365 for a cat and $695 for a dog. The article then goes on to quote from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, that “Owners will likely incur at least one $2,000-$4,000 bill for emergency care at some point during their pet’s lifetime.” The piece closes with comments about the financial responsibilities that clearly go along with adding a pet and suggesting that one do the math before bringing home a new best friend. Yes, but…

…as with all relationships wisdom is to be found not at but between the extremes. Here’s what I mean by that: life is best lived without constantly running the actuarial tables, and also without dancing naked with the unicorns (at least not every night). I suggest those looking to get married should neither propose to the kid who gave us our first kiss in 3rd grade, but nor should we require DNA analysis (along with the pre-nup) to best determine likely longevity and associated health liabilities of a potential spouse. There are real costs when adding to our families, but those decisions are best made with both head and heart.


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