Rodney Times - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS -

How much of the week do you spend work­ing for your pets?

It’s a fair ques­tion.

The last com­pre­hen­sive re­port on the topic from the An­i­mal Com­pan­ion coun­cil found the av­er­age house­hold with dogs spent $1200 a year on them. The av­er­age cat house­hold spent $1005.

That re­port was from 2016, and costs may have changed a lit­tle since then, but then the an­swer was that a worker on the me­dian wage spent about the first hour of their week work­ing for the cat, and a bit longer for the dog.

Fine, for many work­ing for their fur friend beats: a) work­ing for their ac­tual boss, b) work­ing to pay the share­hold­ers of the Aus­tralian bank they are mort­gaged to, or c) to build their re­tire­ment nest egg. A dol­lar spent on a pet also gets re­paid in purrs, licks and wagged tails.

In 2016, we spent roughly $1.6bil­lion on pets, about a bil­lion more than went into Ki­wiSaver.

Pets are big busi­ness, Hu­mans be­fore pets Self-in­sure pets vet costs Save an emer­gency fund

es­pe­cially for vets, and more re­cently, in­sur­ers.

New on­line fi­nan­cial prod­uct com­par­i­son site Money­hub es­ti­mates about 10,000 peo­ple have pet in­sur­ance.

That’s a tiny pro­por­tion of pet own­ers. It isn’t a ring­ing en­dorse­ment for the prod­uct.

I can eas­ily un­der­stand why peo­ple buy pet in­sur­ance in an age when vets of­fer treat­ments to cats and dogs sick with ail­ments which 30 years ago would have meant they were put to sleep.

‘‘The rea­son we got pet in­sur­ance was be­cause of the last cat,’’ said the pol­i­cy­holder. ‘‘It cost us over $3500 and nearly did us in fi­nan­cially.’’

You’ll have your own thoughts on whether it is rea­son­able to spend $3500 on treat­ing a cat, but if you are the kind of per­son who would do it, pet in­sur­ance cer­tainly makes it eas­ier to spread the cost of do­ing so.

For me stump­ing up $3500 to treat a sick cat is spend­ing choice­bet­ter than spend­ing it on cig­a­rettes or more car than you need, and worse than sav­ing $3500

‘‘In 2016, we spent roughly $1.6bil­lion on pets, about a bil­lion more than went into Ki­wiSaver.’’

to in­vest, to my think­ing.

But the ‘‘nearly did us fi­nan­cially’’ is fright­en­ing, and ridicu­lous.

It’s a se­cret shame in our rel­a­tively wealthy so­ci­ety (thanks low wages, mas­sive mort­gages and high rents) that many peo­ple couldn’t pay a $3500 bill with­out go­ing into debt, whether to treat the cat, or fix a leak­ing roof, or re­place a burst boiler.

When in­surer Cigna launched its mort­gage and rent in­sur­ance in 2016, it said al­most half of peo­ple couldn’t pay their bills for more than a month, if un­able to work.

When choos­ing to spend on a lux­ury like a pet, make sure it isn’t at the ex­pense of other more im­por­tant things for you and your hu­man loved ones, like fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity, or the abil­ity to cope with the costs of a hu­man med­i­cal crisis.

Per­haps put off get­ting your next pet un­til you have saved $3000-5000 for furry med­i­cal emer­gen­cies.

For rel­a­tively small sums, self­in­sur­ance is a real op­tion.

And should your fur-friend have an ex­pe­ri­ence like Basil’s, talk with your vet.

No fam­ily should be ‘‘nearly done fi­nan­cially’’ for a pussy cat, and the vet’s code recog­nises the need to bal­ance treat­ment with ‘‘com­mer­cial con­sid­er­a­tions and the wishes of the owner’’.


Vets can pro­vide amaz­ing reat­ments, but some come at a price that’s be­yond many pet own­ers’ fi­nan­cial means.

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