Tag: pandemic

How Much Does It Cost To Care For A Cat?

Two stories published in recent days give wildly varying estimates of how much it costs for the privilege of serving a cat.

First we should note that both reports assume the cats are adopted in kittenhood and the average lifespan of a cat is 15 years. That’s in line with current data showing well cared-for, indoor-only cats live between 12 and 18 years, with outliers on both ends. It’s not uncommon to hear about cats living well into their 20s just as some cats sadly pass on before their time, whether due to natural causes, illness or accidents.

A Texas cat named Creme Puff is the Guinness World Record holder for longest-lived house cat, holding on for an astonishing 38 years until her death in 2005.

Caring for a house panther can cost between $4,250 and $31,200 over kitty’s lifetime, according to an analysis of associated costs by The Ascent, a vertical of financial literacy site The Motley Fool.

Kitty Cash
“My moneys, human! MINE! Unpaw those bills!” Credit:@catsandmoney/Twitter

The estimates break costs down into recurring expenses — which include food, treats, litter and veterinary care — and fixed expenses like scratching posts, toys, additional cat furniture, bowls, grooming tools and similar items.

Not surprisingly, the biggest expense is food, the cost of which has been exacerbated by inflation, rising fuel costs and lingering supply chain issues that caused a cascade effect during the pandemic. Everything from sourcing metal for cat food tins to meat availability was impacted as ports were closed and meat processing plants were shuttered at various points since early 2020.

An unrelated estimate from OnePoll, based on a survey commissioned by pet food company Solid Gold, put the lifetime estimate of cat servitude at $25,304. Like the Motley Fool analysis, OnePoll’s respondents cited food as the primary expense, followed by veterinary care.

The wide range from the Motley Fool analysis could be attributable to geography, how well the cat is fed, and how many extra things caretakers do for their cats. A person who lives in Manhattan, splurges on bespoke feline furniture and buys ultra-premium cat food at almost $3 a can is going to spend significantly more than an eastern European cat servant who feeds raw or home-cooked food and builds their own ledge loungers and scratching apparatus.

Teh Bank of Kitteh
“Welcome to Teh Bank of Kitteh, you may make a deposit but not withdraw!” Credit: @catsandmoney/Twitter

Here in New York the cost of cat food in local grocery stores has spiked dramatically, but online prices have remained steady. Keeping in mind we’ve never really endorsed any particular brand or vendor on PITB, I switched from occasionally buying food online to Chewy auto-shipments during the pandemic because Bud’s favorite food was becoming very difficult to find locally, and that arrangement has worked out cost-wise as well.

Bud’s a true Pain In The Bud when it comes to “leftovers” so his primary wet food is Sheba Perfect Portions. It’s reasonably priced, comes in variety packs and helps avoid waste since each meal comes in its own 1.3oz recyclable blister-like plastic package. (Recycling is especially important with these single-serve packages, tiny as they are.) His dry food is Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Chicken recipe, although occasionally I’ll buy the weight control version of the same dry food when it looks like Little Man has gotten a bit chubby. He doesn’t protest, thankfully.

I feed him two 1.3oz wet meals a day and fill his dry bowl less than halfway at night so he can have his late snack and doesn’t have to wake me up if and when he gets hungry overnight. Sometimes I’m dimly aware of him sliding off me, padding over to his little dining nook and munching on dry food before hopping back onto the bed and dozing off again.

Overall it works out to about $21 a month, so I’d call it an even $25 with treats. You can schedule your auto-ship at any interval you choose, edit it at any time, and prompt the shipment immediately if you’re running out of food, so you can save more by ordering a few months’ worth of food at a time and taking advantage of free shipping on orders of more than $50.

Has inflation impacted cat food prices in your local area? How much does it cost to feed your cat(s) every month?

Rich Kitty
“I’m a nip dealer, so what? Stop judging!”

With A Three-Fold Increase in Cat Thefts, UK Chooses Microchip Mandate

Mandates in the wake of COVID-19 haven’t been especially popular with a weary public, but surveys show one proposed directive has almost universal support in the UK: Requiring all cat owners get their pets microchipped.

Cat thefts in the UK have tripled in the last five years, with the pandemic contributing to the increase since early 2020, police say. Authorities say they hope compulsory microchipping — and consolidating the many chip ID databases into one — will help discourage people from stealing while making it easier to reunite felines with their families.

Thieves mostly target pedigreed kitties over moggies, with Bengals as the most commonly-stolen cats, followed by British Shorthairs and Persians, according to police statistics. Thieves try for breed cats because of resale value, police say.

Dog thefts have skyrocketed as well, with thieves targeting Chihuahuas, Jack Russell Terriers and German Shepards, among other popular breeds. The price of breed dogs has ballooned by as much as 89 percent since the beginning of the pandemic, when demand for new pets and a slowdown in breeding created a boom market.

For context, an estimated 3.2 million British families welcomed new pets, mostly cats and dogs, into their homes since the first lockdowns in late winter and spring of 2020, the BBC reported. Like their counterparts here in the States, UK shelters experienced unprecedented adoption rates as people battled loneliness and depression during the initial COVID waves and last year’s long winter when the virus came back with a vengeance.

“The number one reason behind pet theft is because the prices for pets have gone up drastically,” Becky Thwaites, spokeswoman for UK pet charity Blue Cross, told SWLondoner. “This happened exponentially over lockdown, as responsible breeders stopped breeding due to social distancing guidance, but more people were wanting pets.”

Despite the spike in animal thefts, only about one percent of all such crimes have led to an arrest, according to a public information request by a UK animal welfare group. 

Police have been reluctant to pour resources into those cases, partly because the law lacks serious consequences for people who steal animals. While the maximum sentence for stealing a pet is seven years in jail, under current UK law sentences are pegged to the value of the stolen item. (Unlike the US, the UK does not make a distinction between prison and jail.)

But for people who love their cats, it’s not about the monetary value — it’s about sentiment, love and the distress to human and animal when they’re separated.

Abductions instead of thefts

To change that, a new pet theft task force — set up earlier this year to study the growing problem — recommended a change in the law. Instead of treating pet thefts as property thefts, under the proposal they would be treated as abductions, with all the increased charges and consequences that come with the classification.

Treating animal thefts as abductions “acknowledges that animals are far more than just property and will give police an additional tool to bring these sickening individuals to justice,” UK Home Secretary Priti Patel told the BBC.

Advocates say treating pet thefts as abductions makes sense not just as a legal adjustment, but also as a reflection of the way cats and dogs are stolen. While some thieves stalk dog parks and lure pets away with treats, others have taken to more brazen and violent means like taking animals by force and jumping people while they’re walking their dogs.

The change would require owners to have their kittens chipped by 20 weeks and adult cats chipped upon adoption from a shelter or rescue.  Failure to microchip a pet would result in a warning and a three-week grace period. After that, cat owners would face a steep fine of £500, equal to $660 in USD.

Consolidating chip databases

There are about 10.8 million pet cats in the UK, although widespread chipping alone won’t solve the problem of pet thefts and lost pets flooding shelters. There are currently 16 different microchip databases in the UK. They don’t always share information and scans don’t cover each of the databases, so even if a cat is recovered, brought to a shelter and scanned, there’s no guarantee the kitty will be returned home.

The existence of so many non-cooperating databases operated by private companies “can pose a huge barrier to successful reunification of pets” said the British Veterinary Association’s Malcolm Morley.

UK authorities and the animal welfare groups pushing for the change are cognizant of the problem and want to streamline the 16 existing database into one central repository of cat microchip registration. That will take time and will have to include compromise on the part of the various private companies running the existing fractured databases.

“Every day, we see how important microchipping is for cats and for the people who love them,” said Pet Protection’s Jacqui Cuff, “whether it’s reuniting a lost cat with their owner, identifying an injured cat, or helping to ensure an owner can be informed in the sad event that their cat has been hit and killed by a car.”

The Easter Buddy Wishes You A Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from the Easter Buddy! Bud and I wish our readers a happy, safe and relaxing Easter, socially distanced though it may be. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see a return to some semblance of normality later this year.

In the meantime, though, our little buddies have helped us get through these dark months, entertaining us and keeping us company through the initial wave of the pandemic, the lockdowns and the long winter.

Could you imagine the past year without your cats? We can’t. Make sure to thank your own little buddies for being there for you during this pandemic!

easterbuddy

Real Life Cats Are The Villains of Nintendo’s Newest Game

Nintendo’s newest game has been out for all of one day and already cats are like “Nuh-uh.”

The idea behind Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is clever yet simple and seemingly tailored for the pandemic era: Using a Nintendo Switch, players control a tiny Mario Kart equipped with a camera and race it around courses they design in their homes. Because players are controlling the kart through a screen and seeing things from the kart’s point of view, the game augments the race course by generating obstacles to dodge, coins to collect and opponents to race against.

It’s called augmented reality, because it adds layers of computer-generated imagery over things we can see with our own eyes. It’s the same concept behind smart glasses and floating heads-up displays.

But there’s one wild card Nintendo’s designers may not have anticipated: Felis catus.

Nothing grabs a cat’s attention quicker than a small, fast-moving object, and the little karts have been triggering the predatory instincts of countless cats.

Some cats go all “You shall not pass!” Gandalf-style on the karts:

Others aren’t sugar coating what they think of the invasive little cartoon racers:


Finally, some cats just don’t know what to make of it:

The best part about this is that, from the kart’s eye view, house cats look like furry kaiju — giant, lumbering beasts hell bent on sending the racers careening off course.

It also begs the question: Is there anything in existence that cannot be improved by adding cats?