The cat’s out of the bag – pet ownership now costs a packet - Susan Dalgety
He has already left his mark on my precious sofa, and no doubt my vintage velvet curtains, designed to keep out the Edinburgh winter chill, will soon be his climbing frame, but he has captured our hearts.
It is more than a decade since we last had a cat and it takes some getting used to the daily routine of feeding, emptying cat litter and generally making sure this little creature has his every need met. I even had to call on our son to cat sit at the weekend while we went out for dinner.
But looking after this little bundle of fur is nothing compared to trying to find a kitten in the first place. None of the cat charities I checked had kittens available, though there were plenty of adult cats needing a new home.
I was shocked to discover when I went on a well-known classified ads site that kittens cost from £100 each. A Maine Coon, the largest breed of domestic cat, sells for around £1000 for a kitten. I couldn’t afford one, which is just as well, because when I told a friend I wanted one, she warned me not to even consider it. “People steal them off the street because they are so valuable,” she said. Even a typical long haired, black and white kitten – or a Tuxedo as they are now known – can fetch up to three or four hundred pounds each.
I was recounting my struggle to buy a kitten I could afford to another friend who now lives in France. “French people outside Paris would never dream of paying for a kitten,” she laughed. Her black and white beauty, similar to my kitten, was free. “The owner was just glad someone was willing to take one of the litter,” she explained.
Come to think of it, our last cat Dusty cost nothing. The neighbour of an Evening News colleague discovered a stray cat about to give birth in her garden shed and after tending to the litter for a few weeks, was desperate to find good homes for them. No money was every mentioned.
How times have changed.