How My Stupid Cat Has Cost Me $5,500 Over Three Years

Pets provide us with much-needed companionship, cuddles, and photos to illustrate Consumerist posts with. But they’re not cheap to have around. Food, toys, litter, collars, leashes, routine vet care…those are all of the things you consider and budget for when you start cruising Petfinder to look for a new buddy. Only there are larger expenses that are large, sudden, and impossible to plan for. After one illness, having a pet could cost as much as a decent used car. That’s what happened to Carolyn Kylstra, whose cat Hooligan (great name) has cost her $5,550 over three years. That’s an average of $150/month…money that could go far in an otherwise frugal lifestyle.

She wrote about her experience with Hooligan for The Billfold, making an itemized list of the cat’s medical expenses. Normal cat expenses, like food and scratching posts, came to only about $1,000.

Hooligan’s medical-related expenses: August 2009 – Current

• First-year vet checkup and vaccination rounds: $200
• Ear mites: $50 for meds
• Intestinal worms: $50 for meds
• Vet visit to figure out why his hair was falling out in nasty clumps: $200
• Ringworm: $50 for meds
• Anti-fungal medication for my boyfriend, who got ringworm from the cat: $10
• Neutered: $250
• Emergency vet visit because my roommate thought he had eaten a couple of her Adderall pills (yes, true story, and no, he had not): $200
• Urinary blockage 1: $500 for catheterization
• Urinary blockage 2: $500 for catheterization
• Urinary blockage 3: $1500 for overnight stay and catheterization
• Fancy dancy C/D or S/O prescription-only cat food to prevent future urinary blockages: $40/month x 16 months (and counting!) = $640 (and counting!)
• Vet visit because he was pooping blood: $200 for x-rays and TWO enemas
‚Ä¢ Vet visit because he was pooping blood again:$150 to diagnose the problem as “stress”
‚Ä¢ Pills for “stress”: $50

Now, the title of this post isn’t quite right. It’s obvious that Kylstra is quite fond of her cat, since you don’t drop that kind of money on a pet that you don’t like. But Hooligan’s health woes serve as an important reminder to those who are currently (or might soon be) owned by a domestic animal: Scary emergencies happen, and pet health insurance or dedicated savings account just for medical emergencies can help make them less financially painful, if not less stressful.

Regrets of a Cat Owner [The Billfold]