Is your cat on time and on budget?Imagine your average nuclear power operator was a cat breeder. You want a cat so you go to see him. Yes, he says, I can offer you the finest pedigree cat. The best you’ve ever seen from a long line of fine cats. I can provide with you one for just $100 and it’ll be ready for collection in a month.

You go along in a month to collect your cat. Very sorry, says the cat breeder, it’s going to be another couple of weeks before you can take your cat. Oh, and by the way, the price is now $150. It can be an expensive business breeding cats, you know.

You go back two weeks later. Wouldn’t you know it? The breeder says the cat’s still not ready to leave its mother and what with unforeseen costs, it’s now $200 you owe him.

Two weeks later you return and collect the cat. You pay $250. The cat’s a sickly, shivery, little thing. It leaves a mess all over the place and makes terrible smells. It will only eat one kind of food but you’re not sure how much longer they’re going to make it and you have to buy it from that nasty man across town who you’re sure beats his family. The vet’s bills are astronomical and the pet insurance companies refuse to cover an animal that looks like it’s going to cost a fortune to keep alive.

You decide to go on holiday and take the cat back to the breeder as he also runs a pet hotel. He looks after lots of cats. You’ve heard terrible rumours to the contrary but he says he runs a super cheap, safe and secure service. It’s $50 to look after the cat.

You come back after your two week holiday to find chaos at the pet hotel. All the cats’ litter trays are overflowing and the breeder isn’t quite sure what to do with all the poop. It’s piled up in a corner of the garden and the smell is annoying his neighbours. He’s thinking of burying the poop – though he says that might take a long time and need a special and really expensive shovel - or maybe breeding a new kind of cat that can eat it. He’s full of ideas. Don’t worry, says the cat breeder as he hands you your cat (who looks thinner and sicker than ever), everything’s absolutely fine. He charges you $100.

Concerned, you contact the animal welfare services who say they’ll investigate. They write to you a few days later assuring you that everything is absolutely fine. They asked the cat breeder if there were any problems with his cats and he said no. That’s good enough for the animal welfare people. Case closed.

Your cat limps on for a few more years before having to be put out of its misery. You wish you’d bought hamster – they run all day and cause hardly any mess.