Sunday, July 22, 2007

Who needs men? Our cats are the purrfect partners

They treat them to designer clothes, smoked salmon dinners, luxury hotels and even buy £2,500 beds so they can spend the night together.

Who needs a man? These women have got purrfect partners

DEBORA-MARIA VILA, 34, lives in a four-bedroom house in Chertsey, Surrey, with her six cats: Tinker Bell, Twiggy, Tin Tin, Pluto, Washington and Monkey, aged five years to five months..

She says:

My cats love going for a walk with me in their pink cat buggy, which cost £200.

Sometimes people stare, but the most important thing is that my cats are happy.

My devotion for cats started when I was young, and I've even based my career on it.

I run an online company selling designer clothes and accessories for dogs and cats.

The cats are a substitute for children, but not for a man. With cats, their love is absolute, uncomplicated and unconditional, but all humans relationships have flaws and problems.

All the cats are Cornish Rex cats, an unusual breed, not your average tabby. Tin Tin and Twiggy came from an excellent breeder in the US.

The cost of all the cats, including transporting them here, was around £5,000.

They have personalised diamante collars, which cost around £70 each, and each has at least three outfits, including a bridal gown, Santa outfit, graduation gown and hoodies.

The outfits cost about £20 each. They adore wearing their clothes, especially Pluto, who struts around in his tuxedo and even tries to answer the door.

I groom them regularly. They love having their nails painted pink.

I pay £100 a month for health insurance, and they get their teeth cleaned once a year at the cost of £200 for each cat.

I have 12 designer cat beds in the house which cost £20 each, and two "mink" blankets which cost £25 each.

Their dried food costs £40 a month, but I love to give them treats such as organic roast chicken and prawns, which costs £60 a month.

They eat out of a £100 designer dish and drink from a £60 water bowl.

I love throwing them birthday parties: I fill the house with balloons, invite friends over and cook a seafood dish. That mounts up to £300 a year.

People might think I'm mad for spending so much money on cats, but spoiling them makes me happy.

Cats & transport: £5,000

Collars: £500
Outfits: £420
Cat buggy: £200
Beds & bowls: £400
Food: £1,200
Insurance: £1,200
Teeth: £1,200
Play run: £2,000
Gyms: £1,200
Toys: £500
Parties: £300

TOTAL: £14,120




ANGELA BRUCE, 34, a City trader, lives in a two-bedroom apartment near Canary Wharf in London. She is single and has two Bengal cats, Hannibal and Sappho.

She says: Hannibal's and Sappho are my family, so I don't begrudge a penny I spend on them - I'd happily splash out because I don't have a family or boyfriend.

They're not man substitutes, but anyone who comes into my life has to understand how important they are and play second fiddle.

One former boyfriend did accuse me of loving them more than him.

If I wasn't spending my money on my cats, I'd be buying things that aren't really important, such as expensive shoes and bags. My cats make me a lot happier than clothes could.

I drove all over the country trying to find Bengals because they are beautiful and aristocratic.

After six months, I tracked down a breeder with eight in the litter. These two came straight up and licked me, and I fell in love.

Because Bengals are rare, they cost £600 each. They are more like dogs than cats, and I take them out for walks on their £60 jewelled leads.

People look at me in astonishment, but I care more about having happy, healthy cats than people staring.

The cats have masses of toys, including a £100 snake toy, which is battery-operated.

Their beds alone cost £100 each, and I have one for every room. If their toys get tatty, I replace them with new ones, costing between £30 to £50.

I groom themmyself, but they cost me a fortune in vet bills - I had them neutered and micro-chipping cost several hundred pounds.

Of course, I give them only the best cat food, which costs £12 a bag. They also have treats of salmon and chicken.

They have a pet passport, which cost £200 each. I am taking them to France soon, so I will need cat baskets - Louis Vuitton does one for £250.

Cost of cats: £1,200
Travel to find cats: £1,000
Vet bills: £3,000
Food: £2,500
Toys: £5,000
Cat beds: £1,000
Harnesses and baskets: £1,100
Passports: £400

TOTAL: £15,200



ASHLY SLOAN-BRINKLEY, 33, a management consultant, lives in a two-bedroom flat in Westbourne Grove, West London.

She says: I don't know what I would do without Oscar. He went missing for two weeks and I was in pieces. I put up posters all over the neighbourhood.

Eventually, he was found in a garden screaming at the top of his voice. I was overjoyed.

My friends and family think I go overboard, but Oscar makes me happy. My boyfriend is not an animal lover, but he tolerates Oscar.

He thinks I'm crazy for spending so much money on a cat, but I don't care. I think he is jealous of the love I lavish on Oscar.

I'm sure he must see him as competition for my affections.

My boyfriend once asked me, if I had to pick between them who would I choose?

I told him Oscar had been loyal to me for six years and when our relationship reached that stage he could ask again.

I bought Oscar from a private cat owner. When I first saw him, he looked so helpless. He stared at me with his big eyes and purred.

He looked so vulnerable that I knew I couldn't leave him behind. He's been with me ever since.

When I go on monthly business trips, I leave him at a cat hotel near Heathrow. It costs £300 for a five-day visit, but he gets a heated bed, all the toys he wants and an outdoor run.

The staff take care to make sure he's pampered, just as he is at home. Otherwise I have a cat-sitter who comes to the flat and looks after him when I'm out of the country on business, which costs about £2,500 a year.

I recently got him his own passport, which added up to £300 with all the shots he needs to travel.

Four times a year I take him with me to the US to visit my family. He has a special carrying case which cost £150.

A return trip to the US for Oscar costs £100 each time. He doesn't get a seat next to me, but I know he's looked after in a special hold.

Oscar sleeps in a £700 Bill Amberg leather bed and loves to snuggle up in his £500 cashmere blanket.

I even give him Evian. He has a Burberry outfit from Harrods, which set me back £100, and I also bought him a diamante collar for £50.
I'm happy to give him anything he needs, whether it's a scratching post or sessions with a homeopath and a behaviourist.

Cost of cat: £60
Insurance: £200
Leather bed: £700
Grooming: £200
Food and water bowl: £100
Passports and trips to the US: £1,000
Cat hotels and catsitter: £5,000
Blanket: £500
Food: £300
Homeopathy: £300
Behaviourist: £300
Outfits: £150
Toys: £200
Collar and accessories: £200
Scratching post: £300
Dry-cleaning: £200
Carrying case: £150
Litter box: £600
Evian: £100

TOTAL:£10,660



VANESSA STAPLES, 24, a recruitment consultant, lives in a two-bedroom flat in Bishops Stortford, Herts.

She says:

Freddy is the love of my life. It's embarrassing to admit this, but he is a man substitute.

Cats give you uncomplicated affection when you get home from work. It's lovely to have undemanding love from someone who is pleased to see you. He is easier to look after than a man.

Freddy costs me a fortune and I spend as much on him as I would do on a boyfriend.

He loves sleeping on my bed, even though I bought a £100 fluffy pet bed for him.

I had to buy a king-sized bed big enough for both of us and Egyptian cotton sheets so he would be as comfortable as possible - though I have the extra cost of laundering them.

He's possessive and treats me as his personal property. If a friend or a boyfriend comes too near me, he gets agitated and weaves around me.

I make a big fuss of him and treat him like a king, but the bills are huge. One of the biggest expenses is food.

He refuses to eat anything but Tesco's Finest, which costs £30 a week, and I buy him cat milk, at £2.50 for half a pint. His favourite foods are tiger prawns and smoked salmon.

Rarely a week goes by without me buying him a trinket. His toys cost at least £20 each - the most expensive was £45 and it lasted only two weeks.

One of Freddy's first presents was a Burberry collar, which cost £60, but he hated wearing it.

I bathe him in the finest shampoos costing £10 a bottle. He also likes to come out and about with me in the car, in his £60 cat carrier.

I earn a good salary and I don't have children, so this is how I choose to spend my money.

My friends think I am mad, but until you have a cat you don't realise how they take over your life.

Cost of cat: £600
Travel to find cat: £300
Food: £2,000
Toys: £1,060
Insurance: £200
Vet bills: £2,100
Pet bed: £100
King-size bed plus Egyptian cotton sheets: £2,500
Shampoos & grooming: £350

TOTAL: £9,210

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