by Doug Hines – 29 March 2020
Sifting through the litter box of my mind I can’t help but wonder when its all going to end. My financial world that is. That’s the constant worry in my life.
Everything I say below is not said so that you might take pity on my situation. Rather, it is to show you that you are not alone in your struggle to care for your pets during this topsy-turvy, merry-go-round life we are all living today.
Like you, I constantly worry about being able to pay for food, litter and vet bills.
I’m a senior citizen living solely on my social security check with no other income. My monthly check isn’t too great either. Because I earned so little money throughout my lifetime, I don’t get as big a check as most people. I worry about how I’m going to pay the rent next month.
I live alone. I’m a U.S. Navy veteran and I’ve lived through the last two years battling cancer, the gory details of which you don’t even want to hear.
Oh I’m clear that I am responsible for my current situation. I have made decisions in my life which have led to this moment of uncertainty. I am the one who has gotten himself into this mess.
Personal financial responsibility isn’t the only thing involved either. I am responsible for three, innocent, little beings – my cats. Bubby, Mindy and Grady are something to live for. They are gifts from the Gods on High, if you believe in such a thing.
Each cat, having their own individual personality, needs to be cared for. I can give them an abundance of love, but the more earthly necessities of food, litter and vet bills are a constant worry for me.
How can I provide for my cats and make their lives safe?
I try to give my cats the best cat food possible – even if I can barely afford it. I’ve been studying cat health and nutrition for the last three years, and I have learned that a cat’s physiology dictates what kind of food a cat needs. Although they can exist for years on poor quality foods, cats thrive on species-appropriate, raw food. Cats are carnivores and they require meat to achieve maximum health.
Providing the best diet for my cats isn’t easy. Cost and convenience drive most cat caregiver’s purchasing decisions, and feeding raw is at the high end of both of those considerations.
Vet costs: As you all very well know, veterinary bills can be extraordinary. Regular checkups are costly, and emergencies are one of those things in life where you walk in, open your wallet and say “take whatever amount you want, just make my pet better”.
Grady just body-slammed Bubby to the floor in an ongoing fight to the death. They are only play fighting, but sometimes I just don’t know. I worry that one of them will scratch the other’s eye, and I’ll be running for the cat carrier and warming up the car for the trip to the emergency hospital. All the while I’ll be wondering how I’m going to pay for it all.
So how do I do it? How can I afford to keep my cats?
Like many of you I struggle to prioritize my financial life and put my cats before anything else. I wear socks with holes in them. I don’t eat the best foods. I don’t go out unnecessarily. (Even before current events where we talk about ‘social distancing’, I guess I was a professional hermit.) Some might say that I ‘economize’ or that I am ‘thrifty.’ Truth is I scrimp on everything to enable me to provide a good life for my cats.
We, as cat-caregivers/guardians/parents do what we have to do to benefit our cats. My hat is off to those of you who have more than – way more than – three cats. You are Saints.
I also applaud those of you who provide cat rescue services and/or community/feral cat care. May you be spoken of with honor.
I’ll do whatever I must do to keep and care for my cats. Somehow, Bubby, Mindy, Grady and I wound up sharing the same home on the same planet. That’s a miracle in itself. Maybe it will take another minor miracle just to keep us safe here.
From Michael: I’d like to add a postcript: there are some positives we can take from the coronavirus. Please listen to Ruth’s Podcast. Secondly, a lot of people who live on a very tight budget live with cat companions and find a way to cope and take care of their cats because they provide much needed companionship and comfort.
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