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Column: Pet ownership a rewarding but sometimes pricey commitment

I’ve had several cats in my life, but none like Lachlan.

Sorry, not Lachlan. Mr. Marmalade.

Let me tackle the name thing first. No, we did not name our cat after me, nor did we intentionally seek out a pet with my name.

My wife spotted Lachlan – the cat – on the Shuswap SPCA website years back when he was a little marmalade kitten, complete with an orange “M” on his forehead. We laughed about the idea of a second Lachlan in the house and that was that. Until we decided to go check him out. We were all charmed by the friendly furball and quickly found ourselves filling out the paperwork to bring him home.

Not long after that, we began calling the cat Mr. Marmalade and it kind of stuck. He’s an incredibly friendly, super cuddly, sometimes dog-like cat and we all love him.

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So when Mr. Marmalade recently suffered a health issue, we were quick to get him to the vet. We don’t have pet insurance and anticipated a hefty bill for treatment. Thankfully, the cost wasn’t as much as it could have been, and the care provided was exceptional. But I can’t deny there was a moment when I asked myself, “Wow, are we really spending this much on a cat?”

Pet ownership can be a pricey commitment. For a puppy, in addition to the initial cost of the animal itself, a 2018 study suggests you can expect to pay about $2,600 in the first year for basic needs. For a cat, it’s about $2,000. This doesn’t include pet insurance, which can range from $30 to $50 per month, up to about $160 for more comprehensive coverage. Alternatively, you could just put that money away each month.

On websites like GoFundMe, you’ll often find people seeking support for necessary pet treatment. In an equally difficult position are those having to surrender their pets because they can no longer afford to keep them.

It goes without saying that having a pet in your life can be an enriching, rewarding experience. But there are costs involved that one must be prepared for. You might also want to be prepared for confused looks at the veterinarian’s office should you adopt a pet that shares your name.

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