You guys, it's time for the showdown that's been brewing for ages:
Who is the most frugal of all?
So, I have a cat. I have always had a cat. I may, in all likelihood, always have a cat. Just wanted to get my bias out in the open. However, I will do my utmost to present this frugality audit in the most even-handed, objective manner possible.
Are you thinking of getting some sort of pint-sized companion? Do you want something smallish to snuggle at night and to greet you when you get home? Can you not decide between a cat, dog, or baby? Well, there are probably other considerations, but what's more important than frugality?
Which adorable thing is most frugal?
Initial cost: Varies. There are many ways to get a free cat, including picking up a stray cat from the docks, stealing somebody else's, or adopting from a shelter. You can also purchase a cat from a vet's office or pet store for a bit more money.
Start-up costs: Cats need a variety of shots, which cost money and aren't typically covered by insurance. Some models of cats come already spayed and/or neutered, while others you will need to pay a little extra to have this done. Again, this varies. You also need to get some cat supplies, including a litterbox, food, and possibly some sort of carpeted thing for the cats to hang out on.
Maintenance costs: Cats require regular feeding (can be costly), as well as regular new supplies of cat litter. Medical costs may also come into play if they have any illnesses, as well you will need to pay for regular check-ups (again, not covered by insurance.) No training required.
Estimated life span: 12-16 years
Total estimated cost: $5,000
Initial cost: see above re: cats. (varies)
Start-up costs: Similar medical costs to the cat. Rather than needing a litterbox and supplies of kitty litter, dogs poo on the ground (frugal!) so all you need in the poo parlour division are some plastic bags (you can re-use grocery bags - frugal!). Dogs generally require a variety of toys, which they tend to destroy frequently, so that could add up.
Maintenance costs: See above re: you have to buy lots of toys for them to rip apart with their teeth. (True store: my former roommate's dogs liked the toys with squeakers in them. They would rip them open with their teeth, remove the squeaker, then lose all interest. I'm pretty sure they thought they had ripped out the toys' hearts). Dogs also require, in general, more food than cats. They also have similar needs re: vet costs. Oh, and you may need to pay to have them trained. Also, you need to pay for dog-sitters, and pay more to stay in hotels that allow dogs.
Estimated life span: 10-13 years (varies by breed)
Total estimated cost: $10,000
Initial cost: Free! Ha ha ha. OK, sometimes. (See: Teen Mom) Other babies can cost more (i.e. babies born through fertility treatments, babies adopted from foreign countries)
Start-up costs: There are lots of costs to having babies. Unlike dogs or cats, they need a) a sleeping contraption (i.e. crib type thing), something to courier them around in (baby wrap things, strollers, etc.), diapers (even cloth ones cost more than the naked bums of cats and dogs). Also: toys and clothes. (Naked dogs and cats are really a lot less expensive with their built-in fur coats). Also, they get lots of shots and things but I think these are generally covered by insurance? (Totally guessing here)
Maintenance costs: Toys. Clothes (numerous clothes - they keep changing size, unlike cats or dogs, who can wear the same novelty-size sweater their whole lives). You may need training classes (i.e. gymnastics, baby swimming, etc.) which will also cost money. Eventually, they will get old, and less cute, and you will need to spend even more money on them.
Possible cost savings: they will later use their money to take care of you (i.e. senior's housing). Also, you don't need to spend any money on purchasing food for the first few years if you are able to successfully breastfeed.
Estimated life span: 67.2 (global average)
Total estimated cost: $182,190 (that's just up to age 18 - if they stay in your house and never leave, you can easily double and/or triple this amount)
Who wouldn't want to take these guys home for snuggles?
*Note: this is strictly frugality-based. My friend Martina noted that if we were going in order of bringing joy, the order would probably be babies, dogs, cats (**note: I would reverse that order, but you guys haven't met my cat and seen the joy she brings to the lives of everybody she meets) (***note: my cat has the same colouring as the cats above, but she's way prettier.) (******note: WAY PRETTIER)