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The Thousand Rand Cat

Updated on March 22, 2011


The One Thousand Rand Cat

Being a pet owner can be a very expensive undertaking. I need to go back to the year 1982, when this saga with a plain grey tabby tom cat named "Macavity", yes my first wife named him after that classic poem.

Friends of ours were in the market for a new pet dog, as their existing dog was starting to get a bit long in the tooth, and they wish to have a backup dog that would have reached partial maturity when that dreaded day would set on their current faithful family friend and companion.

So, off the went with kids and all, wife in tow, under strict instructions and dire threats not to bring in another dog, as we already owned or where owned by 2 of the most delightful characters, with very wet noses, and wagging tails. With that "promise" off she went with our 3 kids.

Can you imagine the scene at the S.P.C.A. when two ladies and six children, ranging from 10 down to 4 years old, descended on them on a sunny Saturday morning and overran their pens of dogs, of all ages, breeds, sexes, and sizes that were waiting for someone to give that lease on life, to take them and give them a home. These dogs jumped, pushed and shoved and barged the other dogs and puppies enclosed with them in those running pen type cages, all yapping, baying, whining and crying for attention.

They know why the people come there! The children were themselves infected by that general excitement and charged energy in the air. They wanted every dog in sight. Not that I was there, that time, but I had been there before on numerous occasions, as 90% of our pet population over the years, came from the S.P.C.A.

One Thousand Rand Cat

The mysterious Macavity
The mysterious Macavity

Anyway, I digress, the puppy was carefully chosen and was being paid for when my wife spotted a kitten, not an ordinary kitten, no, an embodiment of the kitten to end all kittens, she was smitten, and as cats go he reciprocate most vociferously, as I was led to be believe. Besides which, the kitten was there on its last day and imminent euthanasia loomed that day and the sun would set on this tiny fur covered bundle.

So her promise that she would not bring, neither a dog, nor puppy home, was kept. How ever, it was a male kitten, a delightful grey tabby kitten, that was added to the family, which now with the latest addition was 2 dogs and 3 cats.

The stipulated, S.P.C.A., donation for a kitten, that included, mandatory neutering. This was paid for and a certificate for completion by the vet, after his doing the prescribed snips and stitches, was given to her, the wife and our kids took leave from our friends so that they each could sort out and settle their newly acquired pets into their respective households.

Once they had left the S.P.C.A., on their way home they passed the vet's consulting rooms, so they quickly stopped to arrange for Macavity's minor surgery. Everything up to now is normal, with the background theme from "JAWS" playing softly in the background, up to that point. Now the fun begins, background theme a bit louder, this kitten is immediately placed on a drip, as Macavity is suffering from dehydration, as well as needed to be dipped with a special formulated dip as she was . The routine feline flu, as well as the other regulatory vaccines, including rabies and a host of other injections needed to be administered. The poor kitten, from being rescued, to being in hospital and used as a pincushion all in the space of ten minutes. The wife needed to go back and pick up Macavity twenty minutes later, this gave her time to offload and pack away the sundry items of groceries. She returned to the vet, after paying the vet for his services the kitten had run up a purchase price of R 15.00, including the neutering, as well as the vets bill R12.50, injections etc., et........ . A grand total of R27.50, the same price as a carton of Camel filters, I still smoked during those years.

I was blissfully unaware of this whole situation, as I was at work, pulling my last day shift, for that cycle. Just as well, as I would have really popped a gasket then and there, charged back to the S.P.C.A., there and then demanded that the entire staff, not only, of the local branch but the entire regional and national office staff be held personally responsible and that a formal full page apology appeared in the national Sunday newspapers. I'm to date, still a bit funny that way. The vet later, in our long association with Macavity and himself, told me that he had reported the state of the poor cat to the Chief Vet of the S.P.C.A., so I did feel satisfied that an injustice had been corrected.

This was the start of the Macavity's expense account, remember this was in 1982 and a Rand went quite a long way, when you consider that our full month's groceries for a household of 5 plus a live in domestic servant ran to about R25o.00 excluding milk and bread. Conversely our combine take home earnings were only a shade over R1100.00.

A week later, Macavity went in for that operation, we went to pick it up now as it's status had changed. There was no complication with the procedure and all went smoothly, "JAWS " nearly reaching a crescendo, 2 days before the stitches are to be removed Macavity starts to experience severe pains when going out to urinate, it's meows had a pitiful, pain racked, drawn out cry for help.

Off to the vet, who after careful examination proclaimed the Macavity had crystals in his urine, and said that we too would be uncomfortable in that situation. Injected, medicated, and with the stitches examined and then removed as Macavity's healing properties were quite good. We went off and paid another bill, bringing the total up to R32.50.

Where Macavity was concerned, a special diet was fed to him, reduced bone meal and low calcium was what she was fed. However, I think Garfield was modelled to a certain extent on Macavity as he was an errant thief, would scoff down his food and then stalk every food dish in the house, at times if you were distracted, it would try and filch whatever he could from the table. The kids would sneak what they did not want to eat, from their plated and deposit on their laps, Macavity ate anything. The problem is that this resulted into more and more trips to the vet. Every now and then we heard the "JAWS" theme song in the background and packed it off to the vet.

It eventually got to the stage where, I could not stand Macavity suffering what seemed like every other week from the same problem, so I challenged the vet, who stated that there is a fairly severe operation where, it amounts him having an almost straight through passage from the bladder, poor cat would then just go whenever, where ever it was, as it would have very minimal control.

We had this done as the cat was really a wonderful natured errant thief and to date had in vet's bills and operation cost us over a thousand Rand. The operation actually nudged it over 1K mark, I have never begrudged a Cent of the money, as the love devotion and affection that cat had for our family, was priceless.

Macavity died when she was twelve years old.

The moral and the message I am trying to convey to all. A pet any pet is a serious commitment and you need to be prepared to sometimes spend a lot of money and time on them. So take pet ownership seriously.


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    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      8 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Equealla, Yes and the R250 would also include a couple of Kilos of prawns as well.

      It is nice to be close to Onderstepoort, I now live closer to animals in distress, should we need it.

      Our pets since then have not cost us much.

      In fact I have black cat that is past 15 years old, knock on wood, which has only needed food.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • equealla profile image


      8 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      Those were the days, the days you could buy food for a month for R250.00. I do remember.

      Cats do know how to choose their owners, don't they. Fortunately I now live in the area, where they accept us at Onderstepoort. We do have a bill to pay but not as expensive as the private practice's.

      It is a big responsibility to care for a pet, I agree.

      Thanx for sharing this special encounter with us.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      10 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Ryan, it was an expensive cat, but the love and affection - PRICELESS!!!!!!!!

    • Ryan Hupfer profile image

      Ryan Hupfer 

      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      HubMobster!!! Yes, cats can be very expensive...we had a cat get hit by a car and break a few legs, etc. and it was SUPER expensive. I'm sure my parents wished that it would have just died...haha.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      10 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      NYLady, thank you for the comment, sometimes you have to be serious and step out of the kitchen.

      Anne,moss, pets are more, much more, the use of pets for various forms of mental type of disorders and situations have had very therapeutic values,to us humans, they do give us more than we realise. Alsheimers, Cerebal Palsy to name only a couplof them.

      Jerilee, I will go and read your hub, thank you for the link.

      Misty, is there something I dont know, all you ladys having a bad hair day all at once. Thanks for your comment.

      Karen, at least you have not grown a hat as well, thanks for the comments. The SPCA's are getting more expensive as their running costs are higher to. Also the amount of money it must cost to try and get Senators and the like to lobby the bills needed to protect the animals must be horrendous.

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      10 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Anna, you sneaked in and changed your Avatar, prefer the sketch version of you.

    • Karen Ellis profile image

      Karen Ellis 

      10 years ago from Central Oregon

      We have the same sort of procedures with our SPCA here in the states. We have mostly gotten our pets there through the years. It's not a cheap way of getting a pet anymore as it used to be. And yes, pets are always expensive down the line, but they bring a lot into our lives and we into theirs.

      Good hub - thanks.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 

      10 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Great Hub Rodney, and a sad but also amusing story. It makes me so glad I have pet insurance, as my young cats would already have cost me the best part of £2000 otherwise.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Great hub!  Linked to it on a hub I previously wrote.  You did the right thing, said in light of the "free" $10,000 dog sitting here beside me -- who knows we'll spend what it takes to keep her pain free as long as she lives.

    • anne.moss profile image


      10 years ago from Israel

      Interesting story - thank you for sharing. And you're right, any pet should be seen as a commitment, not just fun and companionship.

    • NYLady profile image


      10 years ago from White Plains, NY

      You did the right thing, Rodney. Nice hub!

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      10 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Thanks Patty, it was one of those that haad been inside for a long time, it needed to come out. The floodgates of memories opened out annd this is the first to bubble up. Again thanks for the comments

    • Just_Rodney profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodney Fagan 

      10 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Anna, we too now have the pet assistance type of medical aid etc, but back then in the dark ages 1982, yipes that was unheard of.

      This hub has finally seen the light of day, I wanted to write this way back then and publish it in the local rag, but it never happened, maybe now is the right timing? Who knows "things" have a strange way of in our timing - not yours.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I agree that this is an exceptionally good Hub. Thanks, Rodney!

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      10 years ago from Florida

      Great hub, Rodney!!! Everyone should know the potential expenses involved with pet ownership. Here in the U.S., you can even get pet insurance, health insurance for your pet.


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