Most cats are unplanned acquisitions.
More than 50% of cat owners were not seeking ownership at the time - their cats "found them." And up to 70% of new cat owners didn't pay anything for their cats. With virtually no investment or planning, new cat owners have little, or no education on how to look after their new responsibility. The very casual nature of cat ownership at the outset sets a tone of a devalued pet when compared to dogs.
New cat owners start with good intentions. An estimated eighty-three percent visit the veterinary in their first year of ownership, however, over half of them never return. Why is that? In my experience, most cat owners either are unaware of the value of regular maintenance check-ups to keep their pets healthy, or they are unable or unwilling to spend the money on a cheaply acquired pet. In other words, why spend money on something that didn't cost you anything from the beginning (other than litter and food).
Pet ownership is a luxury, not a right. In my opinion, if you cannot afford regular maintenance, you should not have a pet. It is unfair to the animal to suffer from a lack of proper care. If you struggle to look after yourself, don't bring an innocent into the mix as an extra burden. An average cost of a cat over a 15 year lifespan is $25,000. That is without emergency care.
I have seen much willful neglect by owners as a pet groomer. Willful neglect is the conscious choice of pretending not to notice a bad situation.
How people cannot notice a filthy, matted unhappy creature, and have it living in and sharing their personal living space boggles the mind. A maggot-infested cat sleeping on the owner's bed was the most recent (of many) willful neglect episode I've encountered.
I always thank people with a grooming situation for coming for help. I always add a side dish of education on how to prevent the situation from happening again. Most people are very grateful for the instruction and follow my maintenance advise. There are some, who treat professional advise with suspicion, because they know better or think its just a scam of some kind. When they end up in the same situation again a year later, I charge double from the first visit. If it happens a third time, its triple.
As an animal lover can you condone willful neglect? There have been several times where I have started to groom a bad situation only to uncover something much, much worst. These poor cats are collected immediately by their owners to be whisked off to the vet for a one-way only emergency visit to never come home again.
How does it get to that point? Is there no interaction with the cat at all?
Why have a cat if all if you do is fill a food bowl? Cats need interaction, play, love, and grooming. The more you put into the cat, the more you will get out. These are the fundamentals of a thriving healthy relationship. These simple actions prevent obesity and depression, and a whole other range of ailments. You understand your cat better, and can recognize when something is not right.
Regular grooming keeps prevent shedding, hairballs, and keeps mats under control. When approached correctly, grooming is also a pleasurable bonding time. Regular hands-on grooming is a maintenance activity as it also will tip you off of anything out of the ordinary, like wounds, swellings, parasites, etc.
Let's not forget the huge benefits that cats have for our health and well-being. They reduce our stress and anxiety, trigger calming chemicals, like oxytocin, in our bodies. They decrease the risk of stroke heart disease, lower blood pressure, boost immunity, lower cholesterol, and increase sociability. That's a lot of medication in a furry four-legged package.
Cats have value. They ask very little in return. They give us companionship, love, health, and entertainment. Can you put a value on that?
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Janet Wormitt, CFMG CFCG
Cat-a-lyst and Ad-vo-CATe