Before we even went to go and choose our cat at the shelter, I'd spent nearly £200 on stuff for her.
Every day I'd come into the office after lunchtime with a heaving bag -- maybe with a top-of-the-range hairbrush so I could brush this hypothetical cat's fur, or a selection of expensive catnip-scented toys for my hypothetical cat to play with.
My boss would gently remind me that I actually didn't even own a cat yet. But you can never be too prepared!
I spent hours poring over cat forums that told me that I absolutely MUST NOT buy the cheapest cat food, and listed brands that were considered to have the cat lover's stamp of approval. We headed off to the pet store with armfuls of information, and returned to the house with armfuls of different brands of foods. Wet, dry, complimentary, biscuits, treats, you name it, we bought it for our hypothetical cat.
For a long, long week while we waited for our home visit -- a necessary part of the pet adoption process, where the shelter sends someone round your digs to check you don't have rooms full of cat corpses or live in a complete hole -- and our house resembled a kind of weird cat shrine.
There were bits and bobs everywhere you looked. I'd bought the most expensive cat bed available at the pet shop, even though I was totally skint, it being January. It sat in the corner of our living room, with an untouched scratching pad next to it and an array of different toys. But no cat. It was actually a bit creepy.
The day came when we went to go and choose our new pet, and we returned with Moggins. I can honestly say that in the month that we have had her, she has never EVER been inside that really expensive cat bed.
She sniffed it once, then ignored it. She's never once played with the toys; she literally does not GAF. So not bothered. She doesn't eat the posh food, barely even shows an interest in the treats and I doubt she notices that the bowls she eats and drinks from are the best of the best and cost me an arm and a leg.
She has the choice of TWO cat beds (at the combined cost of about £80), our double bed, the spare bed, a sofa and an armchair to sleep on during the day. Guess where she sleeps? On top of a suitcase.
Every day I get home from work and find her curled up on the hard lid of the suitcase. Not even inside the case, just on top of the open lid. Cats are so contrary. "You spent tons of money on a really fluffy, comfy, warm bed for me? NOPE. I'll sleep here on this hard, uncomfortable object, thank you."
I read on one of the cat forums that this one woman's cat will only ever sleep on a baking sheet. As in, a metal sheet you put in the oven. They tried putting blankets on it as it looked so cold and uncomfortable, and the cat was like "NO WAY MAN!" and sat and gave them evil eyes until they removed the blankets. Totally normal.
In fact, the only things my cat seems to care about is eating a bit every now and again, getting strokes, and snoozing. She is basically living my ideal life.
All of her apathy toward everything I buy her does not prevent me from trying. I'll still accidentally find myself drawn to the pet aisle in the supermarket and buying gourmet snack pots full of crab and mackerel in the vain hope that she'll love them. Nope. Just some crappy hard biscuits for her! She really has water taste with a champagne lifestyle.
Whilst my little hop-a-long Moggins is a cheap date, it was reported in the Daily Mail this week that Leanne Crouch, a mother-of-four, has admitted to spending £10,000 a year on Lucy, her 12-year-old Maltese. OK, granted, I don't spend anywhere near that much. I haven't bought a £300 collar for my darling cat. But if I had the money, I probably would.
Leanne says Lucy is her best friend -- "I call her my ‘fur baby’ because she really does feel like one of my babies. To me, she’s my ‘firstborn’ and as she gets older, I find myself spoiling her even more."
I get this! Pets are 100% part of the family. A pet you've had for 12 years is of course going to be beloved. Leanne has gone on to have four children, but is adamant she won't spend so frivolously on them. "I don’t like it when children are spoiled. I want my children to know the value of things so I don’t feel guilty for not buying them whatever they want whenever they want. Lucy is another matter entirely -- she’s a dog and buying things for her doesn’t change her personality."
Fair enough, I say. Sure, if I had kids, at Christmas I'd definitely spend double the amount I'd spent on them on my cat -- even though my cat could not give less of a damn about anything except sleeping and being stroked.
"I spend a few hundred pounds on Lucy every month -- if I see something new that she doesn’t already have, I have to get it for her. It’s mainly designer clothes which cut into my budget -- as soon as a designer item hits the shelves I buy it for her."
If I had a dog, I'd be bankrupt. Seriously. Luckily, as my cat is not bothered about fancy pants stuff, I am slowly but surely learning to not keep splashing out. But if I had a dog I could DRESS UP -- woah. Gamechanger. If the animal hates it, then obviously that's not cool. But a little dressing up every now and again, if it doesn't mind? I think that's OK. Spending hundreds on luxury accessories, if you've got the disposable cash? Sure. It's your money.
What do you think? Do you spend tons on your pets? Or do you think spending lots of money on animals is ridiculous? Shall I get a dog? Or even a MINI-PIG? I never liked having disposable income anyway.
Posting cat photos on Twitter: @Natalie_KateM.