My household has seven cats, a pug, an opossum, assorted spiders and bugs, some squirrels, and a raccoon. No, I don't live in a zoo. It just feels that way. And they all don't live inside.

My wife, Rosie, and I are animal lovers. No, let me get that straight. She's the purebred, natural animal lover. I am the adopted one, the person with the acquired taste. As she always said, "Love me, love my pets." Anybody want to argue with that, especially when your wife looks like Audrey Hepburn, has a cute French accent to match, and can handle your favorite dinner, a meat loaf.

I digress. So, we have these seven cats, two inside and five outside. The outside family consists of a mother and her four offspring who I caught, one-by-one, and had fixed, given shots, and keep healthy year-round. The inside ones are represented by a Main Coon and an 18 pound American longhair Calico.

Financial planning? Patience. I am getting to that. Do you know how you can save a load of dough on pets? Yeah, I know, don't have them, says my neighbor. But that's not the majority of the people in this country.

For one, consider the vet. We arranged a multiple pet discount with our vet and he also doesn't mind giving us samples of medication if need be. Food? Do you realize how happy the pet food companies are when you have a lot of pets? They not only ply you with coupons but they throw in free bags and cans of food, as well.

And consider the saving in security measures. Anyone want to break into a house that has barking dogs or attack cats? Are you kidding? Remember that 18 pounder? Don't let her sit on you.

So, where are my savings? Well, how about adding some charitable contributions there. If you have animals, then you have all kinds of organizations coming after you for some moolah. Give to an accredited one and you have a charitable deduction. Right? Right. Just make sure the receipt says so.

And most importantly, consider your health. Know what it's like coming home after a hard day at the office and having a big furry, fluffy animal sit on your lap and purr? Certainly takes the blood pressure down a few notches. If you read enough of the New England Journal of Medicine, you'll see that pets play a vital role in your well being.

Sounds like a commercial for getting a bunch of cats and dogs, eh? Or, at least keeping Rosie happy. Come to think of it, she's been eyeing this green, squawking parrot lately.

-Stuart Kahan

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