Cats · Finance

The Costs of A Diabetic Cat

Like most people, I view my cats as members of my family. After all, I’ve had both of them for 10 years now. We’ve been through a lot together during that time. It’s also not a surprise that pets can be really expensive but I had no idea until recently. The latest situation has been a tough adjustment for all of us, and I’m not just talking about financially.

Back in January, one of my cats was diagnosed as diabetic. He had lost a lot of weight (about 1/3 of his hefty 18lb total weight over the course of a year) and was drinking a lot of water. What really worried me was how shaky his back legs were when he’d walk. He also had trouble jumping onto furniture. It was this that made me bring him in to the vet.  A blood panel and urinalysis confirmed the vet’s suspicion of diabetes.

The initial vet visit was $230 for the lab tests and check up. Two days later, we got him started on insulin injections and a diet of prescription food. The vet recommended putting my other cat on the special food as well so that is included in these costs. Start up costs for the insulin, syringes, sharps container, and prescription food (6lb bag) were $125.

We had to go back a few days after starting the injections so the vet tech could check his glucose. This visit cost $32. The insulin was helping and he had finally stopped losing weight, which was great news.  He had to go back in 5 days after that for another glucose check for the same cost. This time they increased his dosage since his glucose was still really high.

We went back for additional glucose testing every week, while we tried to bring his level down and get him stabilized. In all, we had 5 glucose checks before we found the right dosage.

Going forward, I plan to spend $150 every 6 weeks for prescription food (10lbs), insulin, syringes, and syringe disposal. My cat will also need to go back every 4 to 6 months for check ups. I expect to easily spend around $2,000 in vet costs for 2016. That’s just for one of my cats, so hopefully the other remains healthy.

Since my cat needs injections twice a day, 12 hours apart, my plans to travel this year have been canceled. I don’t trust anyone else to take care of him, although maybe this will change in time. I’m so fortunate to have friends who are understanding and supportive of this huge change in my life, and we’ve already made alternate plans to celebrate our 40th birthdays this fall.

Because I’d already allocated money to my “fun money” account for these trips, this added expense shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll simply use the funds originally budgeted for the two trips I was hoping to take and instead cover the costs of his care and supplies. At this point, I don’t need to modify the amounts I’m putting into my retirement accounts or brokerage account.

I’m really fortunate that I’m able to afford all the costs — I have no idea what I would have done if the situation was different. It’s definitely been a lesson in understanding what you’re getting into when you agree to adopt a pet.