Americans spend more time researching a car purchase than a cat adoption

On average, Americans spend more time researching a car purchase than learning about the costs and responsibilities of caring for a cat before adopting him/her. I can’t find statistics on that, which in itself shows how careless the process of cat adoption can be. However, I have a very strong “gut feel” that I am correct. It appears that for many (not all) the car is more important to a purchaser than the cat. These are the people who are likely to fuel the unwanted cat pool. However, it really isn’t just about Americans. This problem, and it is a major problem, can apply across the board to any country.

Is the amount of time spent on a purchase, at least partly, dependent on the value of the purchase? That is a key question when analysing this because cats are cheap.

A cat’s life is cheap. Why? How do I know that? Almost three million unwanted cats are euthanized annually in the US. If that ain’t an indication that a cat’s like is cheap, what is?

Here are some average research-before-purchase times and cost-versus-time-spent stats1:

There is no doubt that the value of the item bought is a factor in how much time is spent on research. However, sometimes people don’t understand what the value of the item is.

Take the statistics of purchasing a mortgage. The time spent researching is very low compared to the value or cost. Perhaps this is because the competition on mortgages is low, which makes research meaningless and the true cost is hidden because the discussion centers on monthly payments not overall cost. The sellers like to hide the true cost.

Now let’s take cats. The cost of adoption from a shelter is relatively cheap in the USA. It might be $100 or something like that. The trouble is that some people, the ones that are liable to cause the problems, don’t work out the true cost over the cat’s lifetime. This can be $10,000 and more. And it is not just about monetary cost. There is the time in caring for a cat.

Has anyone worked out how much time a cat caretaker should spend daily on average?  I doubt it. Let’s make a guess: one hour per day which could be low. Over 15 years that makes, 5475 hours or about 230 days of interactions and support for your cat.

A cat caretaker cannot ask someone else do what he/she is meant to do. If you own a car you don’t have to interact with it and entertain it. You don’t have to choose the correct food. For a car, if you want to, you can simply “use it” and then give it to a garage to “fix it”. Is this “car mentality” being applied to the cat in some households?


  1. Sarah Mann of
  2. Photographer’s photostream on Flickr
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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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