Cat question....Attn: Michelle

Got a question…I’m thinking of adopting a cat from the animal shelter. Now I think someone here posted a link to a website that showed the average of how much a cat costs per year, or something like that.

If I’m right, could someone repost the link? I want to see if I can afford this before I get the cat.

Your biggest expense will be the first visit to the vet (shots & neutering/spay) – and even then, it depends on what the animal shelter did - they may give shots. The cat may already be fixed. You have to pay the shelter something. My animal shelter gave me a good deal - had an arrangement with certain vets for fixing animals at low cost. Day-to-day maintenance is no big deal. I just bought a huge bag of dry cat food for about $9.00 - will last a couple weeks. I also give mine some canned food each day - a can of cat food is about 70 cents. Stores usually have certain brands on sale at 4 for a $1.00. Mine don’t get a whole can each day, so 4 cans last about a week. Some cats prefer the dry food. Bottom line: go to the shelter and ASK them what their fee is, about the shots, neutering, etc. and what your vet will need to do; also ask if they use certain vets that will give you a discount. The SPCA will also do shots cheap.

P.S. I see you live in Silver spring. I got my cats from the Montgomery Co. shelter.

Sycorax -

That’s where I was planning on going. I just got a raise (woohoo!), so I can afford one, I think.

Falcon: You can supplement cats’ diets by feeding them chicken bones. My female cat Spooky loves chicken bones; throw 'em on the floor and she pounces on them faster than Bill Clinton can pounce on an intern. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, the little bitch jumped up on the stove and helped herself to a quarter-chicken while I was asleep.

Armed, dangerous…
and off my medication.

Um, let’s just ignore the advice of that last post, ok?

I don’t know of a link to a site that outlines the cost of keeping a pet, sorry.

Cost will depend on what you are looking for. Most pets adopted from a shelter will be neutered or spayed already. They will probably have been tested for feline AIDS and leukemia, been given at least one vaccine, and have been dewormed. Kittens, however, need more than one set of shots, so you will have to follow up on this with your veterinarian. They also should have their stool checked several times and be dewormed at least one more time. Vaccination protocol for kittens includes 3 upper respiratory vaccines, 2 feline leukemia vaccines, and one rabies vaccine, so you will have to visit your vet several times until your kitten is 4 months old. Optional vaccines to inquire about are feline bordatella and FIP. If claws are an issue, you will have to consider the cost of having the cat declawed. Now if you adopt an older cat, they only need vaccines once a year and you could find one that has already been declawed. Besides vaccines, other things you will need from the vet is flea control, and depending on where you live, heartworm prevention. Hopefully you will not have to visit your vet but once a year for vaccines and routine health checks, but even just the basics can be costly. An annual exam with vaccines, fecal check, and rabies tags, can be about 80 bucks (this is just an estimate based on the clinics I have worked in, in my state, in my town.) Flea control, for a 4 month supply, about 30 bucks, and heartworm prevention, for a 6 month supply, also about 30 bucks.

Other things you will need for your pet: toys, litter, litter pan, food. Now, someone has already mentioned you can go to the grocery store and buy a huge bag of food for very little money, but as a vet tech, I have a slightly different opinion on this, and you should bring this up with your regular vet at your first visit. I am big fan of the “premium” pet foods, such as Iams, Eukanuba, and Science Diet. It can be expensive, a 10 pound bag is about 15 bucks, but I think it is worth the cost. These foods are made with better ingredients, which means your cat will have to eat less to get the nutrition it needs. Eating less makes the food last longer. Eating less means less litterbox cleaning. A kitten should be on a food specifically for kittens up to one year of age. After that they can go on a regular active adult diet. If you must go with a grocery store brand of food, go with Purina.

Please also keep in mind that even the best cared for pets can get sick or injured. Think about what you would do financially if something were to happen to your pet. Say, for example, your cat just doesn’t seem to be acting right. You take your cat to the vet, and depending on what is going on, there may be bloodwork and other diagnostic tests needed. This is expensive. Are you prepared for that? You accidentally drop something on your cat and break her leg. It is the middle of the night and you have to take her to the emergency room. They don’t have a payment plan, payment up front only. Are you prepared? Setting aside a little money every week for things such as this is a good idea. Hopefully by the time something like this DOES happen, you’ll have some money you can use. Also, check into pet insurance. Hardly ANYONE has it but I think it is a great idea.

Keeping a pet healthy and happy is a huge responsibility. It is also a LIFETIME responsibility. It is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. Pets are a priviledge, not a right. They are not disposable. You have already shown that you are a responsible person because you are looking into cost BEFORE you adopt. I hope that you are able to fit a little bundle of fur into your budget. My pets are my best friends, and the love they give me is worth any price in my book. Let me know how things go, and if you have any questions for me, feel free to post here or to e-mail me.

Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.–Coleridge

Flea control - if you don’t plan on letting yours out of doors, don’t have to worry about that. And I very much encourage you to NOT let it out of doors. All kinds of things out there that can get your kitty. Chances for a long life are better for an indoor cat. Don’t declaw unless you can’t train it to use the scratching post. Heartworms in cats? Never heard of it - dogs get heart worms. Falcon, talk to the shelter people, then the vet.

Getting a cat is like having a baby: if you wait until you can afford it, you’ll never do it.

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

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I’ve had cats when I was dirt poor, and it can be very difficult for both person and cat. But if you are doing well enough that a sudden outlay of cash isn’t a disaster – even if it is a major inconvenience – then you’ll be just fine, and so will your kitty!


Thanks to everyone who’s given me advice…I just got a raise, so I think a sudden outlay of cash wouldn’t be bad. I need to see how well I can live on it first, though. I don’t want to get the cat until I know I can take care of it properly. I like animals too much for that.

Sycorax, maybe you didn’t notice in my last post, but I am a vet tech, have been for about 5 years now, currently working emergency and doing a lot with critical care. I know just a little about what I am talking about. Cats do indeed get heartworms and even indoor cats can get fleas. I realize that this may not be much of a problem where Falcon lives, if the weather is colder, but here in FL fleas are a year round problem that can bother a cat that doesn’t even know what the outside world looks like. I do agree with your advice not to let a cat go out doors, way too many bad things can happen. And as for declawing, that is a personal choice. I am personally not for it if it can be avoided, but if a client wishes it done, that is up to them. I’ve helped declaw more cats than you can shake a stick at, and the majority of them do just fine.

I would like to add that I would never attempt to answer a question here if I didn’t know the answer, especially when it comes to the well being of a pet.

Just a quick addition–just as fleas may not be a year round problem in the northern states, heartworms may not be either. Heartworm prevention for cats may not be much of an issue where Falcon lives. Still, she should be aware of the risk, as many people still think of heartworms as a dog only disease. (People have been known to get it too, by the way). In Florida, where mosquitoes are a year round problem (mosquitoes transmit the disease) we advise heartworm testing for dogs every year and year round heartworm medication. Cats should be tested at least once, and kept on prevention. Even cats who never go outside can get heartworms, in fact, 50 percent of cats who are positive for the disease are indoor cats. Heartgard, who makes prevention for dogs, also makes it for cats, and the cat prevention has been available for at least 2 years now.

I adopted Inigo last February from a no-kill shelter. He was ten months old, had just finished all of his shots, and had been neutered. Total adoption cost: $56. Stuff I bought: food ($15), dish ($5), litterbox ($6), litter ($6), scratching post ($15–and soon ignored), litter scoop ($3), collar ($4), tag ($5), toys (roughly $15), and treats ($3). Total initial cost: around $130. Not too pricey, I don’t think, but it depends. I did have to take him to the vet last month to treat a sigh inflamed anal gland. It was $60–not cheap, but cheaper than the $150 abcessed tooth my last cat had.

Regarding declawing:

There’s a new product on the market called Soft Paws: . It’s an alternative to declawing–vinyl nail caps are glued (a la acrylic nails) over top a freshly trimmed claw, and all potential for serious damage is removed. They are safe if ingested, non-toxic, and are in fact manufactured and sold by a vet out here in the southern CA area. They cost about $15 per package; each package will last about 6-8 weeks (except the first package–the cat will chew and fiddle with them at first; Inigo went through the first package in about 2 weeks). Amusingly, they’re available in different colors. Inigo wears blue. :slight_smile: They work wonderfully; I’ve had them on Inigo since June. The cat is very pleased to still have his claws and still “sharpens” them on the sofa–but fortunately, I still have sofa left thanks to these little nail caps.

I used to think the world was against me. Now I know better. Some of the smaller countries are neutral.

Laura’s Stuff and Things

Michelle - I did read your post, and did note that you’re a vet tech. I did not mean to impugn your advice. I had just never heard of heartworms in cats – I take mine to the vet regularly and the vet never mentioned it. I only had some concern that because you ARE so knowledgeable about it, that Falcon may have been a litle overwhelmed by the info and have second thoughts about getting one. As for declawing, I had a cat who had been declawed by its previous owner, and I know they do fine after declawing. It’s my preference not to, when they can be trained to claw a scratching post. Good luck Falcon - let us know when you get a kitty and how you’re doing.

At the risk of going against what appears to be the prevailing thought, I disagree with those who say that cats should never be let outdoors. To me, it’s like keeping them in prison. They like to run, to play, to sit in the grass and watch the birds, all sorts of stuff.

I am a confirmed cat person, and Gray Thing has been with me for nearly 13 years now. He likes to spend his afternoons lying in the sun on the next door neighbor’s porch. We had a big bale of hay on our porch for Halloween, and lately he’s been curling up on that to catch the rays. Given that he is an outdoor cat it does mean a little extra attention in making sure he doesn’t have scratches, and that his routine care and immunizations are up to date. And we have taped him back together once or twice (long ago, in his youth!) when he tussled with, we think, a squirrel. He does come in at night and sleeps at my feet on our bed.

Now when we lived in snow country things were a bit different. (We moved from California to Western New York from mid 1994 to mid 1995.) After the first snow came he touched one paw to the white stuff, turned around and came back inside, and refused to set paw outside again until it went away.

Now admittedly I live in the 'burbs, with grass and trees, and on a dead-end street. It would be different if we were in an apartment, or lived in the city. But I don’t like the idea of keeping things prisoned. We do have some animals that we keep in cages (hamsters, bunnies, and until recently an iguana), but even with these I make the effort to make sure that they get out and get to run around and play on a regular basis.

Just my two cents. YMMV.


Melin - I see your point. When my two cats sit in the window watching the birds and the duck pond behind my apartment, I feel a bit sorry for them. But I know that in this area, they are better off indoors. I like to think they don’t miss what they never had. Maybe yours never strayed too far, but I’ve seen too many roadkills,and heard of too many animals being abused. One of my cats is black - my boyfriend (who is a cop) told me that black cats are in danger around Halloween. I feel better that I have two of them – they run and chase each other throughout the apartment. My girlfriend had a cat that she let it out all the time. One day she came home to find it lying at the curb in front of her house. No injuries visible - don’t know what happened - could’ve been poisoned or hit by a car. I’ll take no chances with my beloved cats.

Sycorax, I don’t think there is any such thing as being too knowledgeable about pet care, if you are thinking about owning a pet. I feel it is better for Falcon to know about things like feline heartworm disease BEFORE her otherwise healthy cat suddenly drops dead. And as you said, your own vet never even brought it up with you. Heartworm disease may not be a big issue where you live, at this point I am just using it as an example. Clients need to be educated and well informed. And I am sorry to say, many vets just don’t take the time to discuss things like this. I got most of my training from a clinic run by doctors who were very big on client education. When feline heartworm disease was found to be a problem, you can bet every person who came in to our clinic with a cat got a lecture and a handout on the disease, whether they were there for vaacines or not. I have also worked for doctors who were a lot less thorough. If Fluffy came in once a year for a rabies vaccine, that was all she got. No other vaccines were given or ever discussed. You can imagine the doctor’s surprise when, after 4 years of only getting rabies vaccines, Fluffy was suddenly getting all ger shots as well as heartworm testing, prevention, and flea control, just because I took an extra 10 minutes in the room with the owner, explaning what these other things were and why they were needed. And I like to think, that because Fluffy’s owner is now much more informed, Fluffy will live a longer, healthier life.

I couldn’t agree more with you about not letting cats outside. My cats have never been outdoors, and they could care less. They have each other for company. Of course, now that I work emergecny, I see all sorts of bad things that happen to outdoor kitties, but even before then I was able to see the problems with keeping cats outside. It is ironic that this should come up, because last night we had to put an outdoor cat down after it was attacked by a dog, and just as I was leaving work this morning we had a barn cat arrive DOA.

Thanks for the info Michelle. I did a little research on heartworms on the web and found info on heartworms in cats. One of my cats is due for a check up and vaccinations, and I will ask my vet about it.

Above all, you gotta love your cat!

I have two. Both strays. One found me when he jumped out of a palm tree and said hi as a kitten and the other was abandoned by an EX-friend when he moved. Both are delightful. Both have their own personalities and both do not exactly get along with each other. (One is part Siamese and the other probably eveyone who strolled by. Of course, you KNOW how Siamese can be!)

They get along real good during the winter, when it gets cold in here. Then they both call a truce and sleep in front of the heaters or share my covers in the bed – which makes it a little crowded at times.

Just take good care of your cats and NEVER EVER abandon them. I hate fuckers who do that!

“Think of it as Evolution in action.”