I wouldn't be speaking the truth if I said this didn't frustrate me somewhat. This is solely due to the fact that I know the costs involved in rescue. I see the sickness, the abuse, the abandonment, and I see things first hand that no pet owner should ever witness. This is the emotional price of owning and running a rescue.
The financial aspect is altogether different. Speaking from my own experience, I am privy to information and prices that most are not. Do veterinarians help us out? Of course they do. The good ones anyway. What isn't known is a veterinarian is only able to help a rescue so much. This is often with their own labour. What is not often discounted and rightfully so; are the costs the veterinarian incurs or must pay out to their suppliers and staff. This may include vaccines, X-rays, ultrasounds, specialists, medication, specialty foods, and intensive operations that may take hours of the veterinarian and their paid medical staff's valuable time.
In order to look at the mere basics, we will look at the traditional costs any client would pay themselves should they bring their new cat or kitten in for proper vet treatment for the very first year:
Initial Exam (8 weeks old): $55-$90
1st FVRCP: $15-$20
Milebax x 2 (Dewormer): $15-$30
Fecal Flotation to detect additional parasites not killed with regular deworming: $30-$40
Revolution: $20 per application*
*Revolution is not always the recommended dewormer of choice in veterinary care and at times may require up to three doses to be fully effective in the treatment of worms, ear mites, and/or fleas.
Second Exam (12 weeks old): $45-$65
2nd FVRCP: $15-$20
1st FeLV (optional): $18-25
Third Exam (16 weeks old): $45-$65
3rd FVRCP: $15-20
2nd FeLV (optional): $18-25
Rabies (required by law): $18-25
**It's very important to note here that while the lower cost sterilizations are indeed lighter on your wallet, they are often lower due to cutting back on some very essential requirements needed during and after the operation. In veterinary practices where you would pay a higher price, you are paying for more one on one care, IV fluids during the operation, pre-meds, pain medication for after the surgery, an over night stay, and at times, precautionary antibiotics,
Now let's imagine your cat or kitten is in perfect health. No fleas, no ear mites, no intestinal parasites, no heart murmur, no eye infections, and of course, no upper respiratory infections. By adding up the lowest costs listed above; we come to a minimum total of $298 plus applicable taxes. What was NOT included in the above price of $298 was the fecal flotation, the FeLV vaccines, the Revolution application, or the Microchip.
Now, when you look at the prices most rescues ask for an adoption fee; anywhere from $65-$195 (with the higher price on average including the sterilization) you are getting more than what the average new pet owner would even pay plus what was unseen. When you adopt from a no-kill rescue or shelter, there is so much you don't see. You don't see the bottle feedings every three hours, the horrible flea infested kittens that have lost fur, are anemic, and are fighting for their lives from the blood loss. You don't see the eye infections, the intestinal parasites that ravaged through their bodies at three weeks old. You don't see the tired eyes of the volunteers or know the amount paid out in Kitten Milk Replacement (KMR), food, litter, antibiotics, x-rays, ultrasounds, surgery, and so much more. You don't see the heartbreaking loss of a rescue that simply gave up the fight despite all the efforts of the rescue and veterinary staff. You don't see the countless hours spent trapping and working with animal hoarders. What you see is a darling little kitten with a price tag of $175 and you wonder... Can I have a discount?