An Unexpected Expense: Cats!

A few weeks ago, I walked outside and heard a rustling behind a cabinet in our garage. Upon inspection, I was surprised to see a cat. Correction. I was surprised to see five cats. A mommy cat was nursing her four newborn kittens. I have never owned a cat. I have never wanted to own a cat. I don’t even like cats.

I now have five cats. I must admit, the kittens are rather cute. My kids named the kittens: Tiger, Blackie, Whitie, Tiger, and the mom, Tabby. (Original? Not so much!) Two of the kittens will be moving away soon, off to new homes, and we’ll keep the mommy cat and the remaining two kittens.

What does this have to do with personal finance? Cats are expensive! I’ve been buying canned food for the mom. The cheapest I can find is about .20 per can. So, I now have to adjust our budget. New category: Cats. Weird.

(Where did this cat come from? I have no idea. Apparently, she’s just a stray, but she looks healthy.)

I am NOT an “animal person”. In fact, I’m pretty repulsed by the idea of living with, near, or next to, an animal. But, I do have heart, and my kids really love these cats, so I’m going to do my best to feed them and take care of them. (These are “yard cats” meaning they’ll live in our backyard and I’ll feed them. I will NOT allow these little critters to come inside.)

15 thoughts on “An Unexpected Expense: Cats!

  1. Don’t be that guy who lets their cat run wild and scratch up people’s cars and ruin their gardens/yards. Many cities have leash laws, even for cats, just for that guy. If you don’t want the cat, put it on Craigslist or call animal control.

  2. AC,
    Our nearest neighbor lives about half a mile away… so no big worries there… plus, I live in one of the most rural counties in the country…

  3. If they are yard cats the expense will probably be minimal. You’ll want to get them all checked out at a vet ASAP and give them regular shots. Buy a collar and a tag for each of them (primarily one showing current rabies vaccinations), then just leave out food and water.

  4. PS: I would just get cheap dry food so you can leave it out. They’ll probably eat plenty of nutritious foods on their own, if you know what I mean!

  5. hey you may also want to check into getting her spayed so there will be no more kittens

  6. You are a better man than I. I’m also not much of a pet person, but I especially don’t much care for cats.

    But the other advice on here seems pretty solid.

  7. If you’re not even letting them inside the house and only putting out food, that doesn’t really count as ownership. You could take the food away and they’d be just fine without you, most likely. If you don’t like or want cats, don’t even bother. It’ll just get messier if you let your kids get too attached. And I’m speaking as a total cat person.

    Putting out wet food while the mother is nursing is a nice gesture though.

  8. Just buy dry cat food. My parents even have a dog that eats dry cat food. They stopped buying dog food for it.

  9. Awww! You’re such a softie, although I’m totally with you about not being a cat person. I did want to echo the suggestion that you get the cats spayed. Maybe your local animal shelter will do it for free, or at least get you in touch with people who get feral cats spayed in their free time. (Sounds odd, I know, but I just had a long conversation about this with a cashier at Trader Joe’s.)

  10. you should know that if the kittens do not have enough people-contact growing up, then they WILL be feral and unadoptable. cats are less domesticated than dogs, and kittens that aren’t socialized are permanently wild.

    and definitely, spay. Or you will have an exponentially growing family of cats…

  11. Is momma cat friendly? Or more of a ferral cat? Does she look pretty healthy, flea free, not mangy? If friendly and healthy, maybe she is a missing pet that could be returned? It wouldn’t hurt to put a “found cat” listing in your local paper. It would be cheaper than cat food.

    Seconding the dry cat food thing, although that may just end up luring more cats to your house.

    Rabies shots are a must if your kids are going to be handling these animals.

    You may want to reconsider finding homes for all the kittens, if you are not willing to have the cats in the house. Ferral cats are a real nuisance.

  12. I’m with the above comments – get the cat fixed and dry food is all you need (except some way of keeping abts out of the food).

  13. I’ve grown up with cats all my life, and I can’t imagine *not* having a couple of cats (we have 2 now). So they become just another part of the grocery expense. Tip: buy dry cat food (like others have said). My cats give me the “poor me” routine to try to get an occasional treat of wet cat food (works better on my wife than me!), but they do just fine on dry.

    Plus, they give companionship to the family members that is worth the expense!

  14. Outdoor cats are great for keeping away the critters, like mice and rats!

    I too had a feral/homeless cat give birth to 4 kittens in my backyard. That was 6 years ago. The mother still lives in my backyard, and one of her children lives in the house with me. The other 3 kittens were taken to a no-kill shelter. And I trapped and spayed the mother, so no more kitty maternity wards on my property!

    I’m glad you’re keeping some of the cats. They really are terrific creatures, and who knows maybe you will learn to become a cat person! 🙂

    Good luck and God bless you for being kind to the poor animals.

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