This is a post from Make Love, Not Debt staff blogger, Abby.
My husband and share the same frugal-to-the-point-of-stupidity tendencies. We will skimp on nearly everything, and not always for the better (see: my recent bout of food poisoning in Spain, when we should have just headed to a clinic, but spent a morning slowly re-hydrating me instead). I can always go to him to validate my monetary decisions when it comes to miserly behavior, and he knows I similarly share his mindset.
Except when it comes to our cat, Norman. While I might be happy to contemplate the necessity of a hospital visit while I am the person lying on the bed in the fetal position, slowly losing feeling in my limbs after seven hours of vomiting and wondering whether that’s reason enough to incur an international hospital bill, there is no cost too high for our cat. He is the light of our lives, the greatest purchase (i.e., donation to a shelter) we ever made, the most wonderful thing we could have done together. And if anything were to happen to him, we would pony up the cash like there was nothing to it.
Compare our mindsets when it comes to spending money on ourselves:
“Brad, don’t you think it’s time for a new pair of glasses, as you cannot see out of the ones you have?”
“Ugh, the expense.”
“OH MY GOD NORMAN IS CLEANING HIS EAR MORE THAN USUAL DO YOU THINK SOMETHING IS WRONG? SOMETHING IS PROBABLY WRONG. LET’S GO TO THE VET.”
We have been incredibly fortunate (knocking on ALL THE WOOD) that nothing catastrophic has happened to him. But I know that if something were to happen, and our vet were to tell us a cost that might seem extreme, that cash would flow out of our emergency fund instantly. Part of this is a commitment I feel people should make when they adopt animals. Indeed, part of the reason we haven’t adopted a second cat is the knowledge that we would absolutely want to finance their health issues, and our concerns that while we might be able to do so with one cat, we may not with two.
And part of it might be an inherited behavior. My family brought home a sweet, beautiful yellow Labrador when I was ten years old, and in her older years she developed diabetes. After using canine insulin on her for a few weeks, we realized she wasn’t responding, and the vet told us she would need human insulin. I watched my mother (who once had me drive myself to the emergency room at 3 AM, because she didn’t think the granite I had lodged in my eye precluded me from driving myself there) get down on her knees twice a day, and deliver the wildly expensive human insulin to my aging dog herself. “I can’t just let her DIE,” she would say, syringe in hand. “She’s our family.”
I feel the same way about Norman. I once asked my husband if he would cry when Norman dies. “Oh,” he said, “I’ll cry like a baby.” And that kind of emotional attachment allows for a financial commitment I don’t mind making.
What are your thoughts on expenses for pets?