Now that we are firmly in the dog days of summer (as I write and published this, not as you are probably reading it) it is time to turn our attention to how pets actually make us richer in so many ways, including financially. And since it is the dogs days of summer we will focus on cats. This isn’t to take anything away from dogs and dog lovers (we always had a dog on the farm growing up). Dogs are cash machines, same as cats. It’s just that your favorite accountant currently lives with two cats.
Now I can hear some folks out there taking exception to my premise that pets are a cash machine when pets actually cost money. Food, litter, toys and vet bills add up. A few years back a blogger in the FIRE community let the world know pets were a frivolous expense and in no way frugal. I disagreed then and now. Unless you have a herd of animals in your home, pets increase your health and wealth in many ways. And our furry family members do it in such a stealthy way.
Of course I’m biased. I enjoyed cats in the home since high school. We always had a dog or two around the farm when I was growing up. A farm dog is a great help when getting the cows in at milking time. They are also a great companion when working in the barn and fields. There is a wealth beyond financial that friendship brings. And cats take care of important business, too.
1. Medical Expenses
a. Health Insurance
The biggest financial benefit of owning cats involves health costs. Pets, and especially cats, have been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Medical costs are a serious percent of the family budget. Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure can not only save on prescriptions and doctor visits, but also open the door to savings with lower cost health insurance plans. A high-deductible health insurance plan that is health savings account (HSA) qualified reduces costs up front while opening the door for tax-deductible savings you can use for future out-of-pocket medical expenses or for retirement if not used by age 65.
The financial benefits of owning a cat can exceed the expenses of owning a cat. That should come as no surprise. with medical cost so high.
b. Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. with ~650,000 people dying from this single cause every year. Stroke claims around another 150,000 Americans each year.
Due to the cholesterol and blood pressure lowering benefits cats bring, owning a cat could help you live longer. According to a Goodnet.org article, owning a cat can lower your risk of certain heart diseases and stroke by ~ 30%.
Interacting with your cat also lowers cortisol levels. This means merely playing with your cat can lower the hormone responsible for weight gain. Excess weight is a major factor in many illnesses in the U.S. as well. Lower weight can also increase quality of life which comes in handy if you are going to live longer.
c. Faster Healing
The purring sound cats make when happy reduces stress and facilitates healing of bones, muscles and tendons. Something as simple as your cat laying on your lap and purring as you pet her can improve your health.
Vibration frequencies between 18-35 hertz have been shown to promote healing. The vibrations the purring of a cat creates fall within the 20-140 hertz range. It is no wonder a purring cat helps us get better sooner.
In a February 2018 report from the NIH, cats can also increase your mood, reduce loneliness and help children with developmental disabilities.
Stress and anxiety is endemic in our modern world. Petting your cat actually lowers anxiety and stress levels by causing the release of calming chemicals in your body.
Costs for stress and anxiety have reached $300 billion per year in the U.S., including: lost work hours, lower productivity, accidents, medical and insurance costs.
Less stress improves mental health, too. Our furry family member improves our life on multiple levels. Taking care of our cat releases feel-good neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters reduce stress and thereby, reduce health costs.
e. Fewer Allergies for Kids
A study from the National institute of Health released in 2002 indicated children exposed to cats in their first year of life were less likely to suffer from allergies. It seems high exposure to cats in a child’s early years reduces pet allergies later in life, but also for other common allergies: ragweed, grass, pollen.
2. Social Life
a. Family Life
Dr. June Nicolls, a leading pet researcher, found women are more attracted to men with cats. This isn’t a minor benefit either, guys. According to Nicolls, 90% of single women found men with cats nicer and more caring than men without a cat.
While I found no research proving the following statement, I think it is fair to consider owning a cat can improve your home life and interactions with family members. Instead of a fight escalating, the aggrieved party can talk it out with the family cat. Also, caring for a cat improves parenting instincts. By providing for your cat you train yourself to care for others and consider their feelings. This is good for everyone involved.
b. Energy Levels
There is a study from Indiana University (link no longer available) that says simply watching cat videos can boost energy levels and create positive emotions. There was also a reduction in negative emotions. Even if you don’t own a cat, watching videos of cats can provide health benefits. The sound of purring, even from a computer speaker, is valuable if you are healing from injury.
3. Making Money with Your Cat
Up till this point we focused on the money you can save from having a resident cat. Even a minor reduction in medical costs can turn your tabby into to a financial dynamo. Add the personal benefits and joy of petting and playing with your furry friend and it becomes clear cats really are a member of the family.
But saving money is only one financial benefit of cat ownership. You can also make make money with cats.
a. Social Media
Rachel Miller is a self-acclaimed Facebook marketing geek. In the past she had a cat page on Facebook and made money from it. Countless others have turned some coin with cat videos on YouTube, Instagram and other social media sites. Here is one of my favorite YouTube channels (and a profitable one, I might add).
Cats are always a great selling tool. (Animals in general are. That is why so many firms use animals in advertisements.) If you are lucky you might get your cat into a marketing program with nice residuals. (Think Grumpy Cat.) If you have a business or side hustle your cat can bring home the bacon by providing your business a friendly face.
b. Cat Business
There are a variety of cat businesses to choose from. Cat grooming, training and cat-sitting are a few ways your cat can earn money for you. I have a client who makes kitty clothes; she turns a tidy profit. Her cat models the outfits and helps her size the clothes and costumes.
c. Rodent Control
Another massive benefit of having cats is they keep rodents away. Every so often a mouse makes its way indoors as the weather turns cooler in the autumn. We never need to spend on poison or traps. One mouse; two cats. What odds do you give the mouse?
Mice and rats carry disease. Cats keeping a watchful eye 24/7 means rodents never get established in your home. The cost of an exterminator is significant and the household cats do it for free.
Several years ago a personal finance blogger (as stated in the open of this post) nixed the idea of having a pet because it wasn’t frugal. He caught heck for that post (it wasn’t me!). Having too many pets can be a drain on the family finances. However, life is series of trade-offs. You can’t spend on every item that glows in the dark and party all the time and have money for a pet. Your cat also needs love; while they soothe you, you soothe them. So you need home time with kitty daily.
It isn’t hard to make money with a pet in our modern world. I picked cats because I have cats. A dog or other pet can work just as well. People love watching animal videos. There was a time(it might still be out there) where people would put a video on their TV of a fish aquarium. And people binge watch cat videos on YouTube all the time.
Animals relax us. Cats are special. They don’t take a lot of work (feed them and clean the litter box and you are good to go). But too many cat owners miss the financial opportunity their furry friend provides.
It seems cat pictures and videos sell. With that said, I will be starting a Facebook page for my kitties soon. I then can share the antics of my cats, along with other funny cat videos and placards. Who knows, my cats might pay the light bill one day soon.
More Wealth Building Resources
Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?
Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.
QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.
A cost segregation study can reduce taxes $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.