Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why You Can't Afford a Dog (or Cat?)

This morning, I came across an article on that I'd like to share with you, in case you haven't seen it. ("Why You Can't Afford a Dog")

Why You Can't Afford a Dog
The content isn't all about canines; cats are discussed, too. Donna Freedman writes,
How much is that doggy in the window? At least $8,000 over his lifetime--and that's just for basic expenses. Fido costs a lot more if he gets sick, chews up your work boots or ruins the rug. Cats are even pricier: It costs about $10,415 to be ignored until you run a can opener.
In short, if you can't find at least an extra $800 to $1,000 in your budget every year, don't get a pet. If you get laid off, start looking for foster care for your pets until times are better -- and if the job market is particularly bleak (think "unemployed in Michigan"), you may have to give them away outright.
While I agree that anyone under financial constraint, recession or not, should reconsider adopting a pet, I question her recommendation to seek foster care.

It's hard enough to find foster homes for the stray animals that are found and taken to shelters. I personally don't know of any free foster programs for cats that already have owners, but it's possible that they're out there. (Email me if you know of one.)

I have heard of people being transferred to another state or country for a set amount of time that will find a foster for their pet, and pay the foster home a fee for food and litter costs while they are away, but the cost is comparable to what the cat owner spent when they were at home with their cat, so this isn't a solution for people who can't afford their pet anymore, period.

My best suggestion, if you can no longer afford to care for your pet but you think your situation is temporary, is to ask a family member to help out in the meantime. If you're not at that point, but are getting close, then the first step you should take is making sure your cat is indoor only. That will greatly reduce the risk of injuries, illness and accidents, and consequently minimize the likelihood of expensive veterinary bills.

Otherwise, if you truly feel you have to give your cat up for good, then do your best to help him or her make a transition to a happy home. You could post signs in your local Starbucks, or pet food stores. Sometimes libraries or other community gathering places will allow this, too. If your cat is purebred, there are often dedicated rescue groups that will help specific breeds. And if worse comes to worst, taking your cat to a shelter as an "owner surrender" is a last-ditch effort to get your cat into a new home. There's normally a small charge for this, but at least your pet will be given a place to live with fresh food and water.

Whatever you do, please don't let your cat loose into the wild. I have heard that some take this route, thinking that the cat will be better off eating birds, mice, and whatever scraps it can find, and maybe even being lucky enough to win over another family after hanging around for a while--rather than taking their pet to a shelter. The great outdoors are not the place for a domesticated animal. Though shelters are crowded constantly, they are well-organized and run by people who love animals dearly. So as scary as it sounds, please consider a shelter before you opt for abandonment.

Phew! Sorry to bring up a less-than-cheerful topic. I'll post a Lolcat next!

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