Tuesday, April 2, 2013

For Sale: One Cat. Price: Negative $143.12

Six years ago my wife and youngest son spotted the cat in this picture trying to climb a tree at a nearby gas station.  The cat was just a kitten - abandoned - ridden with fleas and cute. 
Wife brings cat home.
Cat begins constant desire for food and normal medical attention.
Husband (me) not happy.
This cat costs me about $400 per year in food and vet bills.  That means if she (Tommi is her name) lives for 15 years I am going to be out $6,000.  That is 10 days (probably) in Europe or a month and half of camping in the Northwest or a decent used car or some help for my kid's education or other stuff that I want or need.
I do not want or need this cat.
She does not lay eggs like the two chickens we recently acquired.  She does not give milk.  She does not guard the house against intruders and Jehovah's Witnesses.  She does not do anything that any economist would claim is of value.  She does bring in the occasional flea, causes me to sneeze, takes naps on clothes I am trying to sell on eBay and even vomits on the floor from time to time.
I realize this is a horrible ad for a cat I am writing so please ignore the ad and look at the price.
Negative $143.12
That's right.  I, the supplier am willing to pay you, the demander, to take this cat off my hands.
And I am not joking. 
In a normal market, where supply and demand intersect at prices above zero, the buyer pays the seller.
In a market where the product is of such low value (think used chewing gum, junked cars and Julia Robert's movies), supply and demand can acually intersect at a price below zero.
This is where my cat enters the picture.
How did I arrive at the price?  Very simple - it is called trial and error.
I do not know what the equilibrium price is for this cat but I have fully disclosed her problems.  Her records are up to date and she is happy inside and outside.  She has many more years left to hang out with one of you cat lovers and you can have her and some cash to get started on giving her a new home.
Let the bidding begin.


  1. Ok, I'm circulating your blog to coworkers. Someone will think Tommi is worth $143.12.
    If I could, in good conscience, take the money and drop Tommi off at the pound, I'd do it in a heartbeat...

  2. Since your cat has been in your home for six years I would say she has squatters rights by now.

  3. C'mon, Jack. You're working from a flawed set of assumptions here. Cats are "worth" something. I mean, can you pet a chicken or a cow? Will those beasts warm your lap while you read the murderous news in your armchair? Chickens and cows look like they were put together by committees. Cats are pure grace as they leap onto the dining room table in a single bound. And you have to admire the chutzpah they have, looking expectantly at you after losing their breakfast on the hardwood.

    Give in to that little tug of affection you have to admit is there--think of that $400 per year as an indulgence, rather than a loss. Live a little!

  4. Jack, I know where you're coming from plus more. My wife and I do not have children so we have cats instead. If you think one is bad, try to imagine five. Since these are substitute children, they only get the best. We pay more for a can of their cat food than for a can of solid white albacore tuna. The litter boxes (yes, plural) hold 50 pounds of the finest ground corn meal instead of clay because it is better for their health.
    I have to wash my hands and wipe my feet before entering the kitchen, while the cats can leave the litter box and proceed directly to the kitchen counters.
    They dictate when we plan a vacation and when we have to return from an evening out. I am like a slave to them and I wish there was another place for them, but for some reason the cats still love me. In my face, on me in the bed, rubbing against my legs as I sit in the 'library', and following me everywhere.
    In spite of it all, they are what makes my wife happy. God knows I don't, so I accept that this is what she needs. Russ is right. I cringe when they heave hairballs onto the wood floor I laid so meticulously, but they are beautiful things of grace at certain times and they still love me in spite of all my shortcomings.

  5. I totally agree with Russ and ocopek. I must say, having had cats AND dogs in the past I think cats are much easier and more enjoyable. I never had to "walk" my cats.

  6. Very funny but for the first time EVER today, she caught a mouse and brought it up on our deck. Maybe she senses that her days here are numbered.

  7. LOL Yes, cats are like that. That is what makes them special. I prefer a cat to a dog, even though I do love our dog. However I hope to replace him with a big cat some day.

  8. Oh my goodness, I can't believe this is a serious post. I laughed and rolled my eyes at you many times in class, but this is truly funny. Not that other things you've said aren't.......Professor Chambless, there are few things I love more than my cat, Little Ricky, who is 3 years old. We intended to get two cats at the time (we had just lost my boyfriends cat who was 18 when she died and he insisted on getting another kitty) and we were going to name the other one Lucy, but we only ended up getting Littly Ricky. So, even though he can be a pain in the neck at times, I cannot identify with you on this as I adore him. Is your wife ok with you giving away your cat? LOL! You must appreciate Erik's comment; it cracked me up. I cannot believe I didn't see this blog until now. Poor Tommi.