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Getting Catty

Richard Quinn  |  December 20, 2019

CATS ARE NOT my favorite animal. They don’t like me, either. I’m allergic to them. If I go into a house with cats, within minutes I have trouble breathing. I once saw Cats on Broadway. Even the actors dressed like cats rubbing against my leg creeped me out.

Recently, I was in a restaurant. In the booth opposite were two young women, probably in their mid-to-late 20s. They were chatting away between texts. Occasionally, I heard the words “money” and “spending.” My ears perk up when I hear those words. My wife knows that, so she gave me the glare that said, “Mind your own business.”

Then it happened. The younger of the two ladies said, “I want to get a cat.”  There’s my wife’s glare again.

The older one responded, “Are you sure you can afford it?” Oh my, I’m thinking this discussion is too good not to participate in. How do I get an invite? A glance over at the booth, hoping for eye contact, was a failure.

“Did you hear that?” I whispered to my wife.

“Yes, and don’t say a word” was the reply, accompanied by another glare.

The young lady hadn’t thought about cost, so her friend obliged with information via Google. “About $1,000 a year.”

That was followed by a moment of silence, after which the cat lover responded, “So what, I spend that much on makeup.”

Jumping on this illogical response, the older friend said, “But this is an additional $1,000.” Good for her.

That makeup number shocked me, although I don’t know why, as I frequently accompany my wife to the Estee Lauder counter. A survey of 3,000 women found they spend $300,000 on makeup over a lifetime. As with much survey data, it’s questionable. That said, if a 20-something spends even $1,000 a year, it’s still a lot of money.

For the record, Americans spent over $72 billion dollars on their pets in 2018 and the amount has been climbing each year. About 30% of households have a cat, with an average of two per household. Most buy their animals a Christmas present.

Which brings us back to the feline project. What followed in the nearby restaurant booth was a detailed discussion about likely costs: the vet, food, litter, toys—though, I’m disappointed to report, Halloween costumes were left out.

I’m thinking to myself, if you have to go through all this to see if you can afford a cat, you probably can’t. But then out came a pad and pencil and use of the calculator on her phone. This was getting as serious as retirement planning. And still no opening for me to give my two cents.

I was pretty sure a cat was going to find a home, regardless of finances, but then came the clincher as they received the dinner bill: They asked the server. Her response was instantaneous and devoid of analysis. “Sure, you should get a cat,” the waitress said.

Had I gotten the opening I sought, I would have asked the cat-loving millennial how much she was saving each payday and whether she had retirement funds, and suggest that if she needed a calculator to decide on a pet, think again—all in a friendly tone mind you. Alas, my two cents were still in my pocket.

The two young ladies were off to the movies. And guess what? The cat fancier insisted she could afford to treat her friend.

Richard Quinn blogs at QuinnsCommentary.com. Before retiring in 2010, Dick was a compensation and benefits executive. His previous articles include Give Until It Hurts, Food for Thought and Fashion Statement. Follow Dick on Twitter @QuinnsComments.

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