Once upon a time, a friend offered a couple some free kittens. He had found four abandoned kittens and thought that maybe four was too many for one single guy. The couple said yes and was delighted with the entertainment of the cute little kittens. Sure, they had fleas and ear mites and worms and all sorts of vet issues, but that was all soon cleared up and they were little fluffy bundles of fun.
Then came the first PCS move W.C., with cats. Of course, the family was moving to one of the most challenging places to take animals...Australia. First, they couldn't fly with the family because the service member had to go to a school. No cut-rate airfare for these cats. Then they went into quarantine in Australia, which was not too expensive, when you looked at it on a daily basis. However, they ended up in quarantine for two months as the family arrived and moved into their new home. Plus the cost of having them delivered from the quarantine station to the city where the family was living, let's not forget that. These free cats were starting to be rather expensive.
The next few years brought the usual minor expenses, primarily yearly checkups and vaccinations. The move back to the US wasn't even that expensive, as the cats flew with the family. As the cats aged, they started needing a bit more care. A teeth cleaning, including anesthesia, here, an ultrasound there...wow, that stuff is pricey. Three more moves, within the same part of the country, required only a few short stays at the kennel.
Then it was time for the family to move overseas again. The whole battery of medical preparation, and then the ever increasing cost of taking a pet with you on the airplane, then another two months at the kennel while they family found a house. Thank goodness this stuff is tax-deductible!
One cat passed away in their overseas home and managed to avoid the extreme end-of-life care that is sometimes necessary. However, the single remaining cat is now starting his preparations for his next move, probably to another pet-challenging country. There will be extra lab tests, and perhaps some quarantine, and certainly a number of forms and documents to get authorized and stamped and signed-off.
These cats might have been free to start, but three continents and six PCS moves later, they are priceless.