First, let me say this: I love our cats.
They are sweet and cute and funny and I absolutely adore them. Even when they’re knocking over the Christmas tree (Nala) or barfing on the floor (Lyla), I love them. I don’t regret adopting them for a single second.
But boy, if I have learned anything through the last few years of pet ownership, it’s this: pets can be freaking expensive.
From food ($58 for a big bag that lasts likes, three months), to litter (which we buy in bulk at Costco for $9), to all the random crap that cats use, we have spent a pretty penny on these little fur beasts over the years.
And that doesn’t even factor in the vet visits.
Pet owners will know that medical care is not cheap. Even just getting in for a check up or a standard round of vaccines can cost more than $100.
Some opt for pet insurance and I can totally see the logic.
We opted against it. Here’s why (and what we do instead).
Our (fur) babies
The pet population of the OBP household is currently made up of two cats.
Lyla is an eight-ish year old tortoiseshell cat. I adopted her from our local animal shelter (through PetSmart, their adoptive partner) in 2011. She’s bossy, cuddle-y (but on her own terms) and she always has a LOT to say. Her shelter name was Gabby. We didn’t get it at first, but as she got more comfortable with us, it started to make a lot more sense. She meows a LOT.
Nala is our four-ish year old tabby. We adopted her from another local shelter in 2015. She’s…something else. She’s massive (we’re pretty sure she is part Maine Coon) and incredibly prey/food/play driven. Before moving into current apartment, I was not sure if she could meow or not. She can, but she is not nearly as chatty as Lyla.
Our cats are very different from each other, in everything from appetite to temperament.
One thing they do have in common, though? They share the same vet.
And let me tell you, those appointments are not cheap.
The costs of pet ownership: vet edition
Thankfully, both our cats have been healthy so far.
Apart from taking them in for their annual checkups and keeping their vaccinations up to date, we have only had one other medical expense (worm scare – more a precaution than anything).
That said, it won’t always be this way. The older our cats get, the more medical needs they could potentially have. In fact, we are starting to see some evidence of this right now with Lyla – it is not an urgent need at this time, but the vet has told us she will eventually need some (unpreventable on our end) dental work.
That dental work is going to cost upwards of $800.
At first, I wondered if it might be worth it to shop around. But while I am sure I could likely find a slightly cheaper vet for our cats, the reality is medical care for animals is always going to be expensive.
With that in mind mind, pet insurance should be a no-brainer, right?
Not so fast.
Why we don’t have pet insurance – and what we do instead.
When I adopted Lyla, a pamphlet for pet insurance was included in her paperwork.
I looked through it but in the end, I decided instead to establish a medical sinking fund for our cats.
We keep them up to date on their shots
We make sure the cats stick with the vaccine schedule set by the vet. There was one exception to this: a couple years ago, we moved just before the notices came in. The cats were already super stressed so I waited until they settled to book them in.
We follow the instructions the vet gives us as best we can
Over the last few years, the vet has offered a lot of great advice to keep our cats happy and healthy. The thing I appreciate the most is that, very rarely, has this advice translated into trying to sell me something in stock at their office. I really do feel like our vets act in the best interest of the girls. We try to follow the instructions and advice as best we can.
We take active steps to keep them healthy
Our cats are both indoor cats. I’m not saying it’s bad to let your cats outside, but we live in a city with a lot of traffic and a surprisingly large (but relatively hidden) population of feral cats. It is better for the girls to stay inside.
In addition, both our cats are fixed and we make sure rabies is included in their regular vaccinations.
If all else fails, we do have our regular emergency fund
Our pet emergency fund is not very big – but we do keep a larger than $1K emergency fund (more on why here). If we need to pull from there for a medical reason, we would – whether that medical situation involved us or our cats. They are family.
Deciding whether or not you should have pet insurance is, like many things, a personal decision. We opted out, choosing instead to save for pet medical expenses in a sinking fund. It works for us, but it might not work for you. It really depends on your individual situation.
Do you have a pet? Do you have a pet insurance? Why or why not?