“My friend has a cat question and you’re our resident cat expert so I though you could help out.”
“Yeah, what?” I say, hoping my curt reply doesn’t sound as grouchy as I feel. I know what is coming and I am tired of hearing it, but I’m trying to keep cool.
“His cat isn’t eating much and is drinking a lot of water, and he is wondering what to do about it.”
“That’s a medical problem. The cat needs to be looked at by a veterinarian,” I say, and wait for the expected answer.
“But he can’t afford a vet…”
So your cat is sick and you can’t afford a vet? You took responsibility for a living being without taking into consideration the costs of its upkeep? I feel for your cat – a lot – but I have no sympathy for you.
That was basically my response to this caller’s “friend,” and he was not happy with it. He got defensive, in fact.
“So you are saying that poor people shouldn’t have pets?”
“I’m saying that your friend should be willing to do a little web browsing to look for low-cost veterinary solutions in his area. And if he’s so poor he can’t afford a computer, there’s always the library.”
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When I was younger and a lot poorer, my cats always came first. Maybe I didn’t take them for checkups as regularly as I should have, but when something was wrong with them, off to the vet they went, immediately. If I had to put the bill on a credit card and pay over time, fine. If I had to give up small luxuries and live on the cheapest fast food, fine. When I picked up my soul cat, Harlot, off the streets of San Pedro, I was an aspiring rock journalist and full time club goer — but I found out where to get low-cost vouchers and had her spayed the second she was old enough. So youth and lack of funds is not an excuse in my book. There are organizations out there that will help you get care for your pet if you lack the means to do so. The only thing that is stopping anyone from looking into them is laziness and the desire for an easy way out. And sorry, you don’t get the easy way out when you choose to share your life with something small and helpless. Or even big and helpless (for you large dog lovers). If you can’t deal with the responsibility, don’t have a pet. If you are honestly too poor to properly care for a cat, volunteer at your local shelter or rescue for your kitty fix — these places always need help.
Don’t adopt a cat because it is cute and fuzzy and friendly, and then whine when he needs something more than the cheap food you buy him at the market. Suck it up and be an adult. Your cat is counting on you.
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