How much is a pet worth?

As I wait in the vet’s examining room, I look at my uncomfortable kitty and wonder what this latest feline adventure will cost. Don’t get me wrong, I love my two cats, but there is something about how much we are willing to spend on our own animals that bugs me. Even as I don’t question the fact I’m going to approve whatever treatment the doctor comes up with for our barely two year old Gilgamesh, I find it more than a little disturbing how easily I drive by hungry humans asking for pocket change on a daily basis.
This little visit will, no doubt, cost us about $100 just to assure us his spate of puking all over the house is just an anomaly and not something like a hairband or stray yarn causing a blockage. Our last cat, Figaro, cost us thousands over the twenty years we had him. Sofas that perished under claws and urinary tract infections, medicines, office visits, and vaccines added up to a hefty chunkachange over time.
If this were my child, I’d be willing to mortgage the house to pay for whatever would be needed to make him well. There would be no questioning my desire to go to the ends of financial ruins for the life of my child.
What’s the breaking price for a cat? That I can even think in terms of “How much is this other living being worth?” sort of boggles my mind. That I can put a cat’s needs–no, my cat’s needs–and life over that of a human stranger is probably understandable to most people even if it’s ideologically outrageous.
I suppose there will come a time when I see someone I know standing by the road with their hand out. I’d like to think I’d be so bold as to do more than hand over the change in my pocket.
The vet has now examined Gilgamesh, and we’ve decided on our plan of action. I won’t give the gory details, but it’s not looking all that serious for the moment.

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