One of the many old schools of thought about horses is that the initial purchase price is a small fraction of what you will end up spending on it during its lifetime.
Horses are really just hairy fertilizer factories that you throw money into.
Apparently, though, there's a little bit of luck involved in the stray cat adoption arena.
It's not like I have to calculate our new cat's food by the ton. This is good because at $10 per 16-pound bag we're looking at $1,250 a ton. But at one cup of food a day, plus all the mice he can eat, it would take him something like 40 years to eat a ton of food.
So, no he's not expensive to feed, even considering the weight he's put onto the skeletal frame he had when he showed up.
We were heating the shop anyway, so we can't blame any of that work and expense on him, or our desire to keep him warm. I don't need a special vehicle to haul him. He's self-grooming (which reminds me of something I read years ago: "Cats aren't clean; they're covered in cat spit." Think about that the next time you marvel at how silky-soft your feline is.)
This cat's added expense seems to be primarily medically focused.
There was the neutering, the deworming, the vaccinations — all normal, expected pet ownership expenses. But then there was the extra shot because one round was wasted in the ruckus of trying to hold a cat who has a thing (like, a big-thing thing) about being confined. (He turns into the Tasmanian Devil, complete with whirling tornado of destruction.)
Still, all of that wasn't too bad, but then I had the doctor visit and the antibiotics for my bite-infected finger. (Blood poisoning the doc said. Ha! It was cat poisoning all the way.)
Then there was the medicine for his earmites and then the vet visit because they were industrial-strength earmites that needed special vet-sanctioned medicine — that didn't work because the Tasmanian Devil didn't want to be doctored twice a day for three weeks. So then there was the even specialer earmite medicine that operated under the "little dab'll do ya" principle, and probably made him into a toxic-waste dump site. (He was happy, though, and kept his tornado of destruction and his cat poison to himself.)
Still, there was the next vet visit because lurking under the earmites was an ear infection that, of course, required more medicine. Fortunately, I could feed that, and all things considered, I didn't mind buying him special, yummy canned food that hid the oddly bubblegum-flavored medicine. (Like cats dig bubblegum. What are they thinking?)
All of that has occurred in just the first five months of our cat-human relationship.
The other day, I was at the barn feeding horses and noticed that my tidy stack of small-square alfalfa bales had an unusual amount of chaff scattered around it. Curious. (What kind of mouse tears into hay bales and scatters light fluffy stuffs rather than piling it up to make a lovely, eco-friendly, hay hut?)
The cat arrived not too long after that. It's his new thing to come up to the barn to help with chores — because having a cat dive into and scatter hay that I'm trying to pick up with a pitchfork is a real time-saver and super safe. (I don't see anybody getting their eye poked out with this game. Do you?)
As I threw out the last of the feed I noticed the cat staring intently at the hay bales, and I have to say I was a little excited that he might kill those strangely wasteful mice. Then the cat dove at the seam where two bales met, and he scratched and pulled and bit and tore and flung bits of hay everywhere. Just for funzies. (Weee!)
Yes, of course, the mice weren't strangely wasteful, my own Tasmanian Devil of a cat was.
At first I though he'd figured out a way to make himself more expensive (tearing up good feed — $100 per ton feed), then I did the math and realized it was cheaper than the $5 per ounce catnip I'd just bought him. (That does calculate out to a whopping $160,000 per ton.)
But I didn't know how much catnip would go into a cat-sized bale to do a cost-comparison analysis.
So I've given up all tallies and calculations. I'll just keep blindly paying expenses for this cat — the poison-fanged tornado that I throw money into.