Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rabbits Get a Bad Rap

The ASPCA made an outrageous claim in the Spring 2012 USAA Magazine that a rabbit is the most expensive pet costing $730 per year to feed and maintain.

I've seen too many tiny pampered pooches dressed in designer duds to know that can't possibly be true.  And how about finicky cats?  The one that adopted us will only eat certain kinds of Fancy Feast moist food at $ .70 a pop.  Then there's dry food, litter and vet bills.  On top of that, he grabs the best place on the couch!

Those of us who love House Rabbits know they're not at all like dogs and cats.  They don't go for walks on the trail or the beach, nor do they jump into the car for a ride to the store.  And yet, their silent presence in our lives gives a special meaning to every day.

Their naturally down-turned mouth signals disapproval, but daily soft cuddles, purring when they're happy, and jumping into our lap for nose licks shows us a different side.  In return, we end up catering to their every need.  Why?  Because they're just so darn cute!  This is The Princess wondering what could possibly be holding up breakfast.

We have eight rabbits living with us.  My guess is that now we spend about $300 on each one per year, with the largest cash outlay for bananas for breakfasts and organic greens and veggies for nightly salads.  Other regular expenditures are for special rabbit pellets, hay purchased by the bale, and litter made with re-cycled paper.  Unlike other pets, most healthy bunnies can live just fine without annual vaccinations or medical procedures -- except for initial spaying and neutering.  The last thing the world needs is more rabbits!

The large cash expenditures for our increasing rabbit family were in the beginning.  We started ten years ago with a "free" little brown bunny, The Princess.  She was free, but her set-up in the kitchen was not.  There's a solid barrier, a gate and as you can see in the picture above, a special bunny door that goes outside.

It's the outside area that cost us the most.  Our entire second story wood deck, originally built for people, has been completely converted into eight penned areas, separated by double 4' fences and gates.  We believe that bunnies thrive with fresh air and exercise every day that weather allows.  Here's Goldie and her brother, Little Blue, enjoying some outdoor dining in their area a few years ago.

Another expensive excursion down the rabbit hole was our rescuing five week-old kits abandoned by their mom near the Fed Ex office at our little airport.  We named them the Fed Ex Bunny Quintet.  Daily feedings relied on life-saving Day One powdered formula and dozens of tiny nipples shipped from Connecticut via over-night express.  Special food and hay and a pen for our dining room rounded out the cash outlay.  But what an experience that was.  Especially since all five survived and found inside homes with their adopted families.

Based on our experience of having many rabbits binky their way in and out of our lives over the last decade, there's no chance we have spent $730 a year on each one.  Although ... even if it were true ... how do you put a price tag on love?

What kind of pet shares your life, and how much do you pay for that pleasure?


  1. Oh, I would say I spend that and then some on Mr. Mick, and that doesn't even include his vet care, which runs about $500 or more per year because of his tooth issues. The main reason is because I have to order so much of his stuff online, so shipping costs adds to everything. Between hay, veggies, pellets and oats, treats, litter, cage cleaning supplies and anything I've forgotten, that's easily over $700 a year.

  2. I think that was just so sweet. Can I trade my kitties in for a Bunny. Notice I said "a bunny"!! We all should surround ourselves with the things that bring us joy. Your blogs bring me joy.

  3. I just cannot believe that estimate is accurate, but then Guinea pigs rank pretty high, too, and I wouldn't have thought that, either. Very interesting information.

  4. This was such a great post! I honestly can't say what my costs per year have been as this is the first time in 4 years I haven't had bunnies with health issues. Sugie's medical issues cost me over $3,000 in the last few months of her life. Would I have traded my time with her for the $3,000 back? NOPE! She was precious to me.

  5. Lovely post! Bunnies are relatively cheap until they get ill or develop ongoing medical or dental problems. Then they get expensive! But it's worth it for the wonderful presence they bring!

  6. Two cats. We like to tell the tale of the $150-dollar burrito: the time I fed a scrap of burrito to one of our cats, leading to instant evacuation of noxious substances from both ends. $150 worth of tests later, they told me not to feed burritos to cats. Adjusted for inflation, that would be about $300. And anytime you bring the cats in for something non-standard, it's about $300. They should just have a stamp they put on the invoice: "About $300. Thanks!"

    One of our kits has a dicky kidney, so he's on special food that costs about $60/month. The other eats her own special food -- about $40/month -- that will allow her not to blow up into a pillow with legs, which she will do if fed "normal" food in "normal" amounts. So that's $1200/year for both, and we haven't even included shots and medical exams.

    If the cat with the bad kidneys lives long enough, his kidneys will degrade enough that we'll have to inject sterile fluid under the skin every couple of days to give his kidneys enough water to work with. That'll run an extra $40 or $50 a month, plus regular checkups on his "progress." We kept a cat going that way for three years, once. Would you enjoy giving a cat 200 ccs of fluid into the black of his neck every three days for three years? You would not, believe me.

    I think that the thing with cats is that they do keep going longer than bunnies, but with increased maintenance over time -- ie, more money. I had a cat who was near death three times but always pulled through -- expensively.

    A bunny is more expensive to keep than a young, healthy cat. But we -- and most of the people we know -- see those young healthy cats turn into young not-so-healthy cats which we keep alive for 5-7 years longer than they would on their own, because they're part of the family. But in the long run -- more expensive than rabbits, I suspect.

  7. Good food for thought here. I suspect that all the above responses are true, too. When our own small & furries start showing the wear & tear of aging, what wouldn't we do for them? I know I did everything I could for a dog of mine who went blind & developed diabetes in her old age. With all my animals (2 buns and 2 dogs now), the most important thing to me is their well being and what's the price tag for this well being/happiness? It's probably through the roof, if added up, but worth every penny.
    ; ) xo

  8. LOVE this! Geat info. Will share with others....

  9. Don't know if you ever read any of my friend's stuff, but I just learned he's gone too. Two weiter friends lost in about a year. First Joe and now Steve. And you have also quit writting. I must have the touch of death about me.
    Steve just signed a three book deal last year. Had finally made it to the big leagues. It's good that he lived to see his dream realized, sad that he could not enjoy more of it.