If You Like Feral Cats You’ll Love Compound Interest

feral cats

A version of this post appeared in the San Antonio Express News.

Nobody ever told me this, but I’ve always assumed that a first rule of writing is to never – ever – try to teach math through blog posts.

But I learned writing through blogging on the interwebs where a first rule of everything – always – is to involve kittens.

Today I would like to teach the compound interest math formula using the story of the feral kittens in my backyard.

Compound interest is the most important, most powerful, and never-taught financial concept in the universe. Compound interest is also how middle-class people can get rich slowly and inevitably, over a lifetime of ordinary earnings.

Please bow your heads with me. Forgive us, editors and readers for the math we are about to learn. Also, hey look, kittens!

Start with just a few kittens

When you start with a small number of feral cats – as I did in my backyard recently, and then neglect to ‘fix’ them right away – pretty soon the magical compounding power of the universe goes to work.

It feels like one day I noticed a couple of stray cats, then I blinked and went out for a cup of coffee, and suddenly my entire yard was overrun with the things.

How does this happen?

Just ignore their gawdawful screeches at 3am, and boom! 2 months later, you’ve got more kittens.

Mathematically, I can tell you precisely how it happens, using the “compound growth of kittens” formula. It’s a matter of gestation periods which I’ll call “N”, and a growth rate per gestation period, or “Y.”



I can haz compound interest?

Using the compound growth formula in practice

I start with two kittens.

(Important note: they must be different genders for the math to work. I’ll spare you the science behind that assumption. Just trust me on this point.)

Let’s say we know that kittens multiply at a rate of 20% per gestation period. And let’s say I wait three years – that’s 18 gestation periods, since cat pregnancy lasts 2 months.

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Stock Fan 6 years ago Member's comment

What an excellent way to illustrate a complex concept. And those really are the cutest kittens ever!

Terry Caruso 6 years ago Member's comment

Great post. What if I love gerbils?

Tessa Kerrich - Walker 6 years ago Member's comment

Love your writing style :) and cats and investment... bonus blog!

Bankers Anonymous 6 years ago Author's comment

Thanks Tessa! Everything on the internet deserves kitten pictures, amiright?