Frugal Hound Sniffs: More Than Just Money
A note to new readers: while we often delve deeply into financial topics (such as Behind the Scenes of a Happy Frugal Marriage and Well Hot Damn, Frugality Works! Our 2014 Savings Rate Revealed), we also like to keep it irreverent and downright silly. Because hey, who doesn’t need an investigative interview series conducted by a dog?! And so, I hope you’ll enjoy Frugal Hound Sniffs! If you’d prefer a more, ahem, financial independence-related post, start here.
Frugal Hound here. While Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods are living it up in sunny San Diego, I’ve commandeered the blog today for perhaps my most unique Frugal Hound Sniffs yet.
I’m pleased to be interviewing a human person today–Kassandra, previously of More Than Just Money. Kassandra actually does not have a pet for me to sniff, which is a very fiscally responsible decision she has made. Pets are extremely expensive luxuries and I’m grateful for people like Kassandra who recognize the major financial undertaking that pet ownership truly is. I myself cost my parents north of $900 every year, which is no small change! Deciding to have a pet isn’t a decision to make without thoughtful consideration as Kassandra will share with us.
And so, I hope you’ll join me in exuberantly sniffing Kassandra!
1) Why don’t you have any pets right now?
I adore animals in general and I have a deep appreciation for cats BUT the lifestyle that my husband and I currently lead is one where we are frequently away from home. Whether it’s travel due to work commitments or vacation getaways, I don’t think it would be fair to any animal to constantly leave them in a boarding environment. The latter along with hiring a pet sitter can be expensive. Another factor is that the majority of my friends live hundreds of miles away so there’s no one living in my city that I trust to check in on a pet at home.
2) What should people take into consideration before they get a pet?
First and foremost: that they’re truly ready to take on the commitment that is required to own a pet. Dogs need to be walked every day and tend to be very social creatures. Cats are typically more independent but still thrive on human interaction. Whether it’s a rabbit, fish, frog or a beauty like you (Frugal Hound), owning a pet is a long term proposition. If someone is not prepared to deal with the ups and downs of having a pet for many years, then they should re-consider getting one.
3) To what extent should finances impact the decision to have a pet?
I believe it should factor into one’s decision to take ownership of a pet. Many people believe that once they can afford to feed a pet and provide them with a yearly check-up at the veterinarian, that the associated costs are manageable. They don’t consider the following:
- Many animals require consistent grooming and those pet salon visits add up fast if you can’t handle it yourself.
- Animals can get into accidents and sustain massive injuries and consequently massive vet bills.
- Pets may suffer from health conditions that require long term medical treatments or special nutrition that is much more costly than expected.
Back in 2002, Piglet, aka my daredevil cat, snapped a femur in half. He tried to jump from my bed to a very high chesterfield – and failed. Piglet required surgery and wore 40 clamps for three weeks. The final bill was over $1,500!
4) What are the advantages of not owning a pet?
For us, not having a pet allows us to travel without worrying over pet arrangements. I also can’t get over how much money I save because I don’t own a pet. I don’t miss constantly cleaning up the “furbleweeds” (tumbleweeds made from animal hair). I definitely don’t miss the God awful sound of a cat vomiting a hairball. Seeing and cleaning that made me cringe every time. I am highly sensitive to cat dander so not having one has also been good for my own health.
5) Are there challenges associated with pet ownership?
Besides logistical, financial, and medical issues that can arise with pet ownership, let’s just say that life wasn’t boring. Pets come with their own personalities and if you own more than one at the same time, unless they are best buddies, prepare yourself for some drama and entertainment.
6) What pets have you had in the past?
As a child I grew up loving Winnie the Pooh and all my pets were given names of the characters on the show as a tribute.
Winnie was my Maine Coon cat. She knew she was gorgeous and dished out plenty of attitude. That girl stood up to a Doberman once and scared it away! She was diagnosed with diabetes in her final year and after two months of daily insulin injections and severe weight loss, she was still suffering immensely so we said our final goodbye to her at the age of 10.
I previously spoke about Piglet, the shorthair tabby who either thought he was a superhero character or a Cirque du Soleil act. He passed away at the age of 10 as a result of kidney disease. Piglet had a biological brother named Tigger, but he sadly died when he was 6 months old due to injuries sustained from a dog bite from an unleashed pit-bull belonging to a neighbor.
7) Do you think you’ll have pets again in the future?
I am longing for the day we will be able to have a pet because I miss having an animal to care for and enjoy life with. Until we are able to stay home on a more consistent basis, it’s likely that we won’t have any fur babies.
8) Anything else people should know about pets?
Pets are able to bring us so much joy and comfort. The gift of love and devotion that they freely offer to us is heartwarming. They should be respected and never mistreated.
Thank you, Kassandra! Pet ownership definitely should not be taken lightly and I’m thankful to you for illustrating how important it is to carefully consider in advance how a pet will work with your lifestyle and budget.
Mrs. Frugalwoods here: Many thanks to Kassandra Dasent for her insights on pet ownership. Kassandra is a freelance writer, business consultant, wife and step-mom striving to live life beyond what money can buy. Kassandra addresses topics such as personal finance, investing, self-employment and education. Her work has been featured on several prominent sites including US News & World Report and The Globe and Mail.
Are you a pet?
Do you have something to share with the internet? If so, answer my Frugal Hound Sniffs: Exclusive Interview Questions and have your parents email them to my mommy: firstname.lastname@example.org (I can’t believe they won’t give me my own email account) and you’ll be featured in an upcoming issue! While I know we are more than just our appearances, please do send photos too.
P.S. Follow us on Twitter @FrugalWoods for even more ridiculous photos of Frugal Hound and friends.
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Excellent point regarding the unanticipated medical expenses – most people might think that this is only an issue when a pet gets older. But I remember when my friend got a brand new kitten and gave it some glittery little balls to play with. Those little puff balls were eaten and ended up stuck in the cat’s digestive system. Little guy needed surgery and his medical bills cost almost $2,000!
Very costly puffballs indeed! Animals are curious by nature and sometimes find themselves in situations that cost us a ton of money in order to make sure they are ok.
Oh boy, do I know all about unanticipated pet expenses! I’m human-mom to two geriatric cats. I adopted them when they were kittens, and they’re almost 15, now. One developed health issues almost two years ago, and we easily spent $3,000 diagnosing and treating him. He has Inflammatory Bowel Disease (sort of like Crohn’s Disease in humans), and requires prescription food, which costs us $60, every 4-6 weeks. Fortunately he’s doing pretty well now, but getting to this point was very costly, and I’m sure we’re still paying credit card interest on those payments… Ugh.
I commend you for keeping up with the treatments and prescription food because it certainly isn’t cheap. Great to hear that your cat is doing much better!
I answered the phone messages for the humane society for about 3 years and I can without a doubt say that there are way too many people who can’t afford their pets. It is so sad to hear someone begging for money to take their puppy to the vet who has had a broken leg for 3 days already. Pets are amazing, but if you can’t afford the upkeep and unknown, I’d strongly suggest fostering until you are able to afford one.
I agree with the idea of fostering Kim. It’s a great way connect with animals and enjoy them without additional cost to you since the animal shelter would assume the costs of food and such.
I had a long talk with myself before I got my cat. I was 23 going on 24 and it was the first pet I was getting by myself (previous pets were parent bought or I shared them with a boyfriend) I told myself this was a 10 or 15 year commitment and there was going to be time and money invloved, and it would be devastating when the cat died. I also reminded myself that no longer could I go to a guys house after work, then get up and go to school and back to work without going home and feeding the cat and scooping the litter. I thought about it and said I really wanted a cat and was willing to make lifestyle changes when necessary. Well, the cat just turned 20 and I think I have given her a great life and she has given me one too!
How many people have that talk with themselves before getting a pet? How many have it before having a child?
I think very, very few. You and I are likely in the minority where that is concerned. Congratulations on having your cat for 20 years and Animals are truly a treasure in my opinion.
Love this post! It’s one thing to love animals and want to adopt them all, but it’s also just as commendable to love them so much you respect their needs and know what you can and cannot provide them. Time, money, attention – love can’t guarantee that!
Glad that you enjoyed the post Sarah! I tend to be a realistic person and approach my decisions in an analytic fashion. Right now is just not the best time for my DH and I to welcome a pet but the day it happens, I can tell you that we’ll be prepared for all that comes with it.
I agree that pet ownership should not be taken on lightly. My husband and I spent the first ten years of our marriage really wanting a dog, but feeling like it wouldn’t be fair to have one. We finally did get to a place where we felt like we could be good pet owners, so we went to the pound and brought Ezra home. Even though he hasn’t been an expensive dog so far, I am glad that we waited till we had the time and space and resources for him. I love having a dog, and I love that our son is growing up with a dog. But I really love that the dog gets to be a source of love and comfort instead of causing stress by needing things like food and the vet.
Your last sentence highlights what I believe. I wish Ezra a long and healthy life, as I am sure he’s already happy living in a home where people truly appreciate his presence.
This was a great Sniff Frugal Hound. After you bring home the puppy or kitten there’s a lot of work involved to take care of it for the next 10 or 20 years. You don’t see many reminders of that, thank you.
The Winnie the Pooh names were so cute, by the way!
I am glad that Frugal Hound was willing to chat with me about this topic. 🙂
Great points. We both love dogs but decided to get a cat because it wouldn’t be fair to have a big dog living in a small apartment.
You made a good decision concerning not getting a large dog given the current space of your apartment.
Readying myself for the MMM-style facepunch–we have eight cats (it used to be ten). However, we have been very fortunate in terms of health and taking care of them is pretty cheap. They LOVE Costco cat food, they’re indoor cats, our two longhairs don’t need much grooming, and the one who has a chronic illness is easily and cheaply medicated. Age is coming into play, though, as we have three-soon-to-be-four teenagers, the oldest being 18. Having watched an acquaintance pour thousands of dollars and invasive pills and treatments into two 19-year-old cats for emotional and selfish reasons our rule of thumb is “will medicine/surgery buy years?” There’s nothing worse that seeing an elderly cat get pills shoved down its throat or shots. To me, that’s suffering, and I won’t have any of my beasts suffer. We have already agreed that after they’re gone we’re either going totally pet-free or just have a pair of cats.
WOAH! I won’t facepunch you but I have a personal rule about being outnumbered by both children and pets – it won’t happen lol! Do tell me, do they all get along???
@Kassandra–yes, they all get along, There might be a minor scuffle or two now and then but it’s a happy sight for me to go into my (very small) living room and see all eight beasts chilling out. Meg, our oldest, likes to snuggle up to one of our youngest twins, Max and Neo, both of whom are pretty large and solid.
Oh Frugal Hound, you’re the best! Loved this interview. My dog is worth so much more than money. She’s such a bright spot in my life.
Isn’t Frugal Hound a treat! I can feel through your words that you really are happy to have your dog in your life and that’s what it’s all about. 🙂
Awe poor Piglet. I love that name for a cat btw. I freaking adore my cat pepe, but when something happens to him, it is very likely I will not get another pet again for quite some time. I want to be able to take advantage of my single, unattached, freelancing status and be able to go wherever I want without that responsibility. Plus there is the cost. When I got pepe I had a full time job, which, was a blessing because he needed some expensive medical care early on. He is now about 13 and still in good health, so I’m just trying to appreciate every moment I have with him, as I will probably have to be medicated severely when he goes. Just the thought makes me teary-eyed.
First off, I LOVE the name Pepe! I definitely understand why you wouldn’t want to take on the responsibility of another pet once Pepe goes on to the great beyond. Losing an animal is such a heart-wrenching experience so I hope it’s a long way off for you T. I wish Pepe many more years of good health and bliss.
We had a maine coon in the past!! Her name was Aspen and she was super sweet. Pet ownership should not be taken lightly and I am personally thankful that we have a cat because his care and food seem to cost less than most dogs. Plus I don’t have to get up in the cold to walk him.
Aren’t Maine Coons special! I also like the unique name of Aspen. 🙂 Amen to not having to walk a dog in bone chilling weather. This is when a backyard would come in very handy lol.
.”I definitely don’t miss the God awful sound of a cat vomiting a hairball.” LOL, LOVE that, Kassandra! Thanks for the giggles today. 🙂
Very happy to oblige Laurie 🙂
I have a poodle named Max and I could not imagine life without him. My friends say he lives better than some humans and I’m ok with that.
I know what you mean about our pets having the life of Riley! My cats had it pretty darn good. 🙂
So glad you wrote this post! My mom worked at an animal shelter, and I worked there for a bit after her, and it was so disheartening to see how many people gave up their pets because they couldn’t afford to keep them. Honestly, it ticked me off they didn’t think about it in the first place, but I know how irresistible puppy and kitty eyes can be. Medical expenses can be a huge drain when it comes to pets, and you definitely need a dedicated savings fund for them!
It’s true that the adorableness of animals can persuade people to make hasty decisions concerning pet ownership. I also don’t like the idea of gifting people with pets as the recipient may truly not be prepared for what owning a pet entails.
One important expense not mentioned in this piece is that renters very often end up paying higher rent when they have pets. This works in several different ways. 1. Especially in high cost rental markets like where I live, many landlords don’t allow pets. This means the pool of available places to rent shrinks and the landlords who will accept pets can command quite a rent premium as a result. I see posts from renters all over the internet who have this problem. 2. Renters typically want to rent a house instead of an apartment because they want more space or a yard for their pets, especially if it’s a dog. Once again, rent costs go up. 3. You have the issue of pet rent and deposits.
That’s a great point! Mr. FW and I actually waited to adopt Frugal Hound until we owned a house for the very reasons you mention. It’s really tough to find a pet-friendly rental here in Cambridge and I know many people who have a lot of difficulty in finding a place to live because they have a pet. It can be done, but it’s definitely another hurdle and expense. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, and you’re welcome! I see you have the same problem with pets in Cambridge (a high cost housing market) as we do here in the SF Bay Area (another high cost market). Renters really need to seriously consider this issue and I really don’t think a lot of them are doing that.