A Month Pampering a Snowshoe Siamese “Prince” on $160K—TikTok Impulse Buy Included · The Wildest

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A Month Pampering a Snowshoe Siamese “Prince” on $160K—TikTok Impulse Buy Included

After $5,000-plus to move to an apartment with a built-in catio, this parent worries they’re not spoiling their kitty enough.

by Editors
June 24, 2024
Woman hugging her Siamese cat.
blackCAT / iStock

Welcome to Petty Cash, a series where we find out just how much real people are spending on their pets in a month — from weekly costs and treat budgets to surprise vet visits and next-level splurges. To take part in Petty Cash, submit your monthly pet spends  here.

Pet name: Vinnie Barbarino

Pet age: 7

Pet breed: Snowshoe Siamese cat

Location: Los Angeles, California

Household salary: $160,000 

Pet parent’s job: writer and comedian

What’s your gotcha story?

It was the part of 2016 right before it got really weird and bad: the Pulse shooting, my parents came out as Trumpublicans, *gestures wildly at 2016 from top to bottom.* I was still living in New York, and my mom was in New Jersey fostering a kitten — as she is wont to do — through the Summit Animal Rescue Association (SARA).

She said she’d keep him if my father wasn’t still alive. (She often likes to imagine her life without my father and with 800 cats.) She urged me to come home and at least meet him. If this cat couldn’t be her son, he could at least be her grandson.

At that time, a lot of my friends were not only getting married but starting to have babies, and I was in the phase of my life where I could maybe convince my roommates to let a gorgeous sweet prince live with us, too. I met Vinnie — though at the time my mom had erroneously named him Bailey — and he immediately fell asleep in my lap. It was all over then, and he was mine.

How much did your pet cost?

Nothing, because his grandmother (and SARA) took care of all the adoption and vet costs.

How much did you spend on up-front costs for Vinnie?

Close to $150. I bought a litter box, a dooms-day supply of litter and food, one of every toy — and two of this Our Pets Play-N-Squeak Batting Practice Interactive Cat Toy because he loved it so hard he snapped the first one in half — and a bed he never used. I’m not even sure he saw it.

How much do you spend on pet insurance each month?

About $28/month. I use Lemonade because my fatal flaw is being a sucker for a beautiful website interface. It’s pretty basic coverage for vet visits, though I’ve never successfully had a claim covered. Full disclosure: I’ve forgotten to submit most claims and then the one time I did, it wasn’t covered. So that’s an interesting formula of failure to acknowledge.

How much do you spend on any subscriptions for Vinnie each month?

$72.06 for a “monthly” supply of various Fancy Feast options. In that way, it’s a Fancy Buffet. And then another $30 or so when the amount of food I have set up on auto-ship at Chewy isn’t actually enough for a full month.

This has been going on for years and, even now, I’m not going to do anything to fix it. And every six months, I have an auto-ship set up for a 15-pound bag of Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition Indoor Adult Dry Cat Food (for about $67) which Vinnie knows as “crunchies.”

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought for Vinnie?

There hasn’t really been a one-time splurge. It’s more like many-years-and-counting pampering. I’ve done carpentry for him (and not myself) to make custom ledges for every window in our apartment because baby boy needs his sun time.

Though I also flew him across the country when my partner and I (and her cat) moved from New York to LA. Based on how that experience went, I’d buy him a private jet if it made the process any less harrowing, my God.

What’s the most outrageous purchase you’ve made for your cat?

One big rope. Outrageous in concept, not price (it was $16.99). I saw a TikTok about a cat who loved a rope, and I thought Vinnie would love a rope as well. He just has big-rope energy.

Separately, when we moved our cats in together, it did not go well, so we did talk to an animal communicator. It was a gifted session in exchange for some content — but that’s something I would absolutely pay for, if (more likely, when) we need to do it again. For those curious: The big takeaway was that my partner’s cat would’ve liked to have been asked if Vinnie could move in and that she doesn’t particularly care for how he uses his body for attention. 

Have you ever bought anything inspired by your pet/with their face on it?

Somehow, not yet. Every day I look into his beautiful blue eyes and say my affirmations: “You’re not allowed to die, OK?” So I’m sure one day soon I’ll commission an oil painting, Dorian Gray style.

Do you have any tips for saving money on your pet spending?

I’m the absolutely wrong person to ask for tips because I’m the king of spoiling my little prince. It’s a problem.

Week One

Purchase 1: Fancy Feast Classic Pate, Chicken & Beef, $21.99

I don’t know how (I do know how, and even you know how, see above), but every month without fail, we need to buy “emergency” food. Full transparency starting way down here: My partner and I have two cats between us, and generally we pool resources to, y’know, keep them alive.

But if I wrote about both of them, this would be 7,000 words long. Anyway, this was an emergency purchase outside of our usual Chewy food order, because my partner’s cat stopped eating what we had at home — a thing she does a lot. Must be nice to be a picky eater.

Purchase 2: Arm & Hammer Litter Baking Soda Double-Duty Cat Litter Deodorizer, $4.49

Vinnie’s a little hygiene queen, just like me… because I was raised by a germaphobe (said lovingly). So, this does wonders for keeping the litter boxes smelling like they don’t exist.

Week Two

Purchase 1: Veterinary Wellness Visit, $638

Happy birthday, big boy! For Vinnie’s seventh birthday, we celebrated with an escape room (the vet) and got him a bunch of gifts (shots). Oh God, does he hate going to the vet. Which also means I hate going to the vet, because he always looks so betrayed. Luckily, at least he’s healthy and betrayed.

Purchase 2: Chewy Autoship for Fancy Feast, $72

As previously mentioned, there’s an inadequate amount of food currently set to auto-ship every month. That charge just hit. It includes a total of 72 three-ounce cans of Fancy Feast beef, chicken, poultry, and savory centers. (We’re a pâté house.)

Despite the math, that’s still never enough to cover a whole month because I think there’s a third cat wandering around our apartment in the middle of the night, hoarding cans.

Purchase 3: Native Pet Omega-3 Fish Oil & Alaskan Salmon Oil Skin & Coat Health Supplement for Dogs, $14.79

This is for the other TikTok Heads: You ever see a video of someone making the most decadent bowl of food for their pet and feel like a negligent pet parent? No? Just me? Cool, thanks guys. A video popped up on the ol’ algorithm and shamed me so hard into buying this. I don’t know if it’s doing anything.

The comments assured me that it’s OK for cats even though it says dogs. Vinnie loves it, but I make sure to give it to him in moderation because I know male cats aren’t really supposed to eat much fish for various health reasons and, for him, one very personal reason. He’s gonna hate me for sharing this, but holy hell does it give him The Stinkiest Butthole on Earth. An award I’ve had to make sure he’s no longer eligible for.

Week Three

Purchase 1: Greenies Feline Catnip Flavor Adult Dental Cat Treats, $9

Vinnie loves all things crunchy. He does this thing where if I hold a treat between my fingers two feet above his head, he’ll stand up on his hind legs and wrap his top hands (front paws) around my wrist and wrestle the treat out of my fingers.

And I love that so we do that a couple times a day. That or I’ll toss a handful into the living room and watch him dig ‘em out of our high-pile wool rug because anything can be an enrichment toy if you make your cat play fetch. Added bonus with this particular treat: dental hygiene.

Purchase 2: Scoop Away Complete Performance, Scented Cat Litter, 42 Pounds, $26

About once a month, I have a lucid moment and remember to order litter in bulk from Costco — for delivery because I have the upper-body strength of a dead person.

Week Four

Purchase 1: Security Deposit, $5,250

My partner and I have lived in our current apartment for two years and in that time have had two mold growths in our floors, walls, and ceilings and Mold Number One should’ve been enough for us to leave, but Mold Number Two really did it. I’m really allergic and I think Vinnie is, too, so we found a (fingers crossed) mold-less place nearby to rent. Yes, we did move for the health of our cat, so this is definitely a pet-related purchase.

We move in soon and what really sealed the deal — other than the fact that there is no mold, which I can not stress enough — was an enclosed back patio where the cats can roam (supervised and harnessed).

When we had to vacate our apartment for mold remediation the first time, our dear friends were generous enough to let us crash at their place, and they also had an enclosed patio where Vinnie would sun his little butt every day. He’d actually scream when we were out there without him. So, this is our version of We Bought a Zoo. Instead it’s We Rented a House With a Backyard.

Total monthly spend: $6,064.27

  • Pet insurance: $28

  • Medications and routine care: $638

  • Grooming accessories: $0

  • Food: $93.99

  • Treats: $23.79

  • Toys: $0

  • Lounge accessories: $0

  • Walk accessories: $0

  • Clothes and wearable accessories: $0

  • Litter: $30.49

  • Security deposit for a pet-friendly rental house: $5,250

How do you feel about this month in spending? Will you change anything going forward?

This month was an anomaly between the vet visit and the moving. But the rest of the purchases are pretty standard and, honestly, seeing it spelled out, I have this weird fear that I’m not spoiling Vinnie enough.

What does that say about me? I guess I’ll bring that feeling of inadequacy into therapy next week. And then immediately buy out a whole aisle at Petco. Just to be safe.

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