Tag Archives: animals

The Truth About Cats and Dogs: The Cost of Pet Ownership

When you need to cut costs, you can’t off your children. But you can put your pet up for adoption. There’s an interesting discussion over at Get Rich Slowly about the high cost of pet ownership.

Last year, The New York Times ran an article about the financial implications of pet ownership. Alina Tugend wrote:

“The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association asked 580 dog owners and 402 cat owners to record the amount they spent in the last 12 months on specific pet-related items. The dog owners spent almost $2,000; cat owners about $1,200. If you want a real deal, small animals came in at just under $300.

In 2001, Steph Bairey at FamilyResource.com researched the estimated costs of common pets. Though she doesn’t explain her methodology, she found that:

“Dogs cost about $730 per year.
Cats cost about $355 per year.
Rodents cost about $160 per year.
A tank of fish costs about $200 per year.
Birds cost about $770 per year.
Lizards cost about $745 per year.
Snakes cost about $520 per year.

I grew up without any pets (except a fish won once at a carnival that died a week after) so I can’t relate to the desire to own pets. I understand that for some people, the companionship means the world to them.

What I don’t understand is when people obviously can’t afford to own a pet, yet have one or more of them. I have a good friend who is a remarkable person, really kind and a big pet lover. She, along with her family, are struggling financially. I don’t know how badly, but they all work for the company business and the recession is hitting them hard. Yet she has tons of pets. A dog, a cat (or two), a rabbit, and then there are other various pets in the family at her parent’s house. She complains when her pets get sick and she has to take them to the vet (”I can’t afford it!”) but doesn’t ever think of getting rid of her pets (or not getting more). They make her so happy, so I see why she has them, but then I don’t understand how if you don’t even have an emergency fund built up and your checks keep bouncing, you can have so many animals to have to pay for. On the other hand, I have another friend who has one dog who is her life. I’m sure she spends a small fortune on him, but she’s in her late 30s and being as she’s single in the big city, it makes sense for her to have a dog. I guess it just depends on your situation.

How much do you spend on pets a year?