Additionally, many apartments that allow pets require an extra deposit, or a slightly higher rent due to the likelihood of pet damage. So that’s even more money.
Or, say you do find a roommate that wants to live with you and your Siamese cat. Things go well … until your feline shreds your roommate’s cashmere sweater one afternoon while you humans are at work. Cats don’t have money, so probably you’ll be the one opening up your wallet…
Note that we haven’t even gotten to the basic expenses of keeping a pet. Kitty litter needs to be purchased. Chew toys, scratching posts. Pet food. Visits to the vet. Leashes, training crates, boarding when you’re out-of-town. How much will all this cost?
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has a helpful pet-cost chart. Their estimate for a medium sized dog is $695 a year … but, in the first year, when you need to get the dog spayed/neutered, buy a leash, a carrier crate, etc, the ASPCA estimates that first-year expenses for a medium-sized dog will be about $1,580! And, in fact, this estimate actually looks a touch low, based on what others are saying. If you have a dog, I would budget about $800 a year on it, minimum. What about a cat? According to the ASCPA, owning a cat costs about $670 per year, and $1,055 for that first year.
ASCPA’s quotes assume that you’re buying pet insurance, and have some out-of-pocket veterinary expenses, but that nothing catastrophic takes place. They seem like decent (if low-end) estimates. This means that if you want to be a responsible pet owner (which you do), you should make sure you’re able to spend at least this much money on a pet each year before you go out and buy one.
4.) Your Freedom
This is the final sacrifice. There’s a reason so many couples buy a dog, as a dry-run to see if they could handle the responsibilities of childcare.
First, a dog needs to be trained, which takes a lot of time and patience. And puppies are high maintenance – their bladders are small, so they need to be taken out every few hours, or they’ll mess in your apartment. And, yes, that’s every few hours. So expect to be tied to your home for the first several months after purchasing a puppy.
Also, if you have a dog, it needs to be walked regularly. You’ll need to wake up earlier in the morning to give Fido a walk before work. After work, you’ll need to go home and walk Fido … and then do whatever else you’d planned on that evening. On the weekends, a nice hour-long walk would be appreciated. And dogs will want attention – expect to play with them when you’re home. Which is part of the fun – but also a time commitment.
Cats are less demanding in this regard. They don’t need to be walked, and you can leave them at home for longer periods of time. But, whether you have a cat or a dog, if you’re planning on taking a trip, you’ll need to make arrangements for someone to take care of your pet. So, no more spur-of-the-moment weekend getaways. You’ll need to find a reliable pet sitter, or a boarding house … both of which will cost you, by the way.
But, If You Still Want Your Pet…
Having a pet is awesome –I’ve been a bit dour about the whole thing, but I don’t mean to be: having a pet can be psychically uplifting, as well as a lot of fun. You’ll forget all about a tough day at work when Fido gives you a big welcome, or Fluffy purrs on your lap. Just remember that taking care of another living creature requires a commitment of your time, money and freedom. That said, if you’re ready for it, go to the shelter and see which ball of fluff steals your heart.