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.


Rocky is 10!

Happy birthday to my Rocky!  Hard to believe that the tiny kitten I brought home is 10 years old.  He’s certainly taught me more about cats than I ever thought I’d know.

I’d started a new job in November 2005, working for the same company as a close college friend of mine, Mrs. BB.  During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, the office was painfully quiet so she and I decided to go to the Humane Society over lunch.  My friend found a cat that she fell in love with and adopted him that day.  As I was waiting for her, I was standing near a bunch of cat cages when the cat in the very bottom cage was pawing at me, trying to get my attention.  Usually kittens are in larger cages with other kittens, but this one wasn’t and he was by himself. I took him out and we went into one of the rooms to play.

Small cat, big bed

Of course I fell in love instantly.  I already had a tuxedo cat, named Apollo, who was 6 years old.  He was very happy as an only cat, but I just couldn’t leave the Humane Society without this kitten.

My friend and I had to go back to work so we brought the kittens in their cardboard carriers with us.  The woman working the front desk kindly turned a blind eye and let us pass.  We showed our coworkers and then each headed home with our new additions.

I put Rocky in a spare bedroom so I could slowly introduce him to Apollo.  But Rocky was so excited to have a playmate that it didn’t last long.  He followed Apollo everywhere and was always curled up next to him.  Unfortunately, Apollo passed away unexpectedly a month later due to a blood clot.

Rocky helped me to get through the loss of Apollo.  It truly was fate that we found each other and I have no doubt that he was meant to be my cat. Realizing how badly Rocky needed another cat, I adopted Moe. They have different ideas of how to spend their time but overall get along well.

Staying warm in the winter

When Rocky was 2 years old, I found a lump on his back and the vet decided that it should be removed. Luckily it was determined to just be a skin irritation but the surgery and recovery was really hard on Rocky. In my opinion, that was the beginning of the change from a sweet, lovable cat to one who is wary of anyone except me. My brother was living with us when I adopted Rocky but moved out just before Rocky turned 3. They got along great and I think Rocky was impacted by this more than we realized.

Rocky is always very sweet with me so it’s always strange to see him turn into an anxious cat when people are over.  Many of my friends prefer not to come to my house, which is understandable, and others try to ignore him. Some people say he’s a mean cat, while I just think he’s misunderstood.

You weren't reading this, were you?
You weren’t reading this, were you?

As the hunter and protector of the house, nothing makes him happier than to hunt bugs and keep an eye on anyone who steps foot inside.  One of his favorite activities is to hunt his own food — I’ll throw a piece of kibble and he’ll run after it and eat it. We play this game every night.

Rocky definitely lives life on his own terms.  I doubt that I’ll ever be able to change the way he interacts with other people but, as is the case for most cat owners, I’m just happy that he allows me to be apart of his world 🙂


Lessons From My Cats

Cats are great companions and we can learn a lot from them. Here are a few things they’ve taught me:

#1: Be skeptical.  My cats are cautious around new people or in new environments. They take their time to investigate before proceeding.  People should do the same. Always question anything new that you don’t understand.  Be wary of anyone who has something to gain financially in their interaction with you.

#2: Sleep on it.  Cats are well known for their napping.  If you have a big decision to make, sleep on it. Never make an impulsive decision.  If anyone ever pressures you to make a financial decision quickly, it’s likely because they know how much they have to gain and how much you have to lose.


#3: Toys are great, but not everything.  My cats have a lot of toys but only play with a few day after day.  Could the same be said about most of us?  How many times have we purchased something, thinking how great it would be, only to have it pushed aside for not living up to expectations? Unfortunately, we usually move on to the next toy and the cycle continues.

#4: Necessities are few.  Cats only need a few things to be healthy and content – food, water, clean litter boxes, and a comfy place to sleep. How much do we really need to be healthy and happy?  At some point, our possessions start to own us, as the work to care for them begins to outweigh the benefit they provide. Walk through your home and look at each item you own. Does it serve a specific purpose? Has it outlived its usefulness? If you no longer need it, consider selling or donating it.


#5: Play is important.  If I don’t play with my cats before bedtime, they’ll wake me up in the middle of the night. Play is important for people too, but as adults we often forget this. Try to fit in some time to do something you enjoy, even for just 15-30 minutes, to help recharge your batteries.

What have your pets taught you?  What other characteristics do they have that people could emulate?