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Previously I wrote about not needing a large emergency fund if your life is generally low-risk. Not owning a home or car means there is a low risk for major life emergencies. I don’t have to worry about any surprise repairs.
And then I adopted two cats.
Before adopting them, I had determined how much food and litter would cost per month. It came out to $30/mo, which I I could handle. I knew that other expenses could spring up sometimes but didn’t really give it much thought. Indoor cats are at a much lower risk of danger than outside ones. That was what I told myself at least.
When it comes to pets, the common question is: “What is your limit of spending on your pet to save their life?” Some people will say they don’t have a limit, some will say $1,000, or $500, or whatever other arbitrary number that sounds like just enough.
The problem here is that the question assumes you’d pay this all at once. Rarely is this the case. Your pet might need prescription medicine or food that is costly. They may need regular visits or treatments. They may need pre and post appointments for a procedure. It won’t be $1,000 all at once but it adds up over time.
I currently have an emergency fund of one month’s rent but did not adjust this when I adopted the cats. My mistake. When I discovered my cat needed a dental cleaning, I immediately made a plan to use my tax return to pay for the procedure. I was lucky that it could wait and was not a medical emergency.
Of course, there is a conflict here. It’s not fair to my cats to not give them the help they need because I can’t afford it. However, I also can’t sacrifice my financial well-being. This is why it is so important to make sure you can financially take care of an animal (more than just the monthly costs) before taking one in. You are agreeing to take care of this animal. Make sure you can take care of yourself first.
After owning my cats for a year, I decided to take them to the vet just as a check-up. Turns out, my cat Scarface has sensitive gums that were swelled up and infected. Some cats are more susceptible to tartar than others and he happens to be one of them. Because of his swollen gums, his teeth were being pushed out. This resulted in him having canines that looked like vampire fangs.
The vet recommended I bring him back for a dental cleaning. I was given a quote of between $250-$650 depending on teeth extractions and other complications. He would need to be put under anesthesia so it was a full procedure.
That first appointment was $100. Dental cleaning requires pre-blood work to make sure he could handle the anesthesia, this was $150. The dental cleaning itself resulted in my cat needing four teeth pulled, that came to $550.
All of the appointments including the cleaning totaled $800. Now, that wasn’t all at once and is how health bills usually work. It is more than I expected to pay for my cat’s health. But this is what I signed up for. Also, I hope this will prevent more serious dental issues in the future.