Money Advice

11 Ways to Save on the Cost of Owning a Cat

My household at present has two cats. One is an orange barn cat that was foisted onto my spouse’s dad and mom, after which onto my spouse, by a proverbial cat girl. He’s seven years outdated, give or take. The different is a former stray who appeared on our doorstep, chilly and hungry, about 4 years in the past. Our vet estimates her age at six or seven.

We discover the expertise of proudly owning two cats to be manageable and emotionally rewarding, and we wouldn’t commerce our explicit two for the world. However, we’re additionally budget-conscious, which implies we’ve developed some methods for controlling the value of proudly owning cats with out sacrificing their high quality of life.

How to Save Money On Your Cat

1. Buy From a Shelter

If a member of your loved ones has a severe cat allergy, you might want to put money into a particular breed of cat, similar to a hairless. However, they are often costly.

The Sphynx, a standard hairless breed, sometimes prices greater than $300. The Peterbald, a almost hairless cat with longer limbs and distinctive facial options, prices upwards of $1,000. “Fancy cat” breeds, similar to Persians and Russian Blues, value wherever from $400 to greater than $3,000, relying on the breeder and pedigree. And wild hybrids, similar to the Bengal and Savanna varieties, value $1,500 or extra.

However, in the event you don’t have to accommodate any explicit wants, get a home quick hair – your generic cat – from a shelter. Your adoption payment ought to vary from $30 to $100, relying on your location and the shelter. If the cat may be very younger, you will have to pay for immunizations – lower than $100 for the commonplace first-year suite, which incorporates feline leukemia, rabies, and distemper.

Since strays are rampant, shelters typically have a wide array of cats between one and three years outdated. As lengthy as they’ve obtained preliminary vaccinations, annual vaccinations for grownup cats ought to value not more than $40.

2. Cut Out the Bargain Food

Food is a main recurring expense for cat homeowners, however that doesn’t imply it pays to go the low-cost route. Bargain cat meals like  9 Lives and Meow Mix use corn and different low-cost grains to present the majority of their protein. Cats are carnivores although, so their digestive programs aren’t constructed to deal with vital portions of grain. These carbohydrate-rich meals can lead to weight achieve and allergic reactions.

For instance, my household fed our male cat Meow Mix till he developed a corn allergy – in accordance to the vet – that left him continuously scratching at his nipples. Ouch. Though it was significantly dearer, we switched to a grain-free meals at our vet’s behest, and the irritation vanished inside weeks. However, the vet go to set us again about $100.

Cheap cat meals might also use ash as a filler. It’s not fairly as gross because it sounds: Ash really comprises some necessary chemical constructing blocks, similar to phosphorus, that cats want. But it might additionally trigger unwanted side effects, similar to painful urinary crystals. In addition, it takes up space that could possibly be used for animal protein, which is what your cat actually wants. In common, switching to a higher-quality meals can enhance your cat’s urinary well being, gastrointestinal consolation, and management its weight.

It’s necessary to observe that vets are almost unanimous in recommending a food plan that features each moist and dry meals. A 100% dry meals food plan doesn’t present sufficient moisture for the majority of cats, and might lead to dehydration, discomfort, and extra severe well being points – producing hefty vet payments and pointless fear for his or her homeowners.

Our more healthy meals does value greater than double what we had been spending on the cheaper stuff. We spend about $20 extra per bag for the 5 or so giant baggage of dry meals we purchase per year. And we spend a little lower than $1 for a six-ounce can of moist meals, about 20 cents greater than the cheaper cans. You can spend far more on even higher-quality moist meals although – typically greater than $1.50 per three-ounce can.

Between the moist and dry varieties, higher meals provides about $120 extra per year to our cat finances. However, the value of a single vet go to for a urinary tract an infection or intestinal blockage can exceed that, and ongoing vet visits for extra entrenched points can break a finances.

Cut Out Bargain Food

3. Make Your Own Cat Food

You could have the option to save much more money by making your individual cat meals and treats. Though cats have a popularity as choosy eaters, doing it on your individual is surprisingly simple. Basically, cat meals ought to consist of animal-based proteins. And, since cats require heaps of calcium, bone matter is a should.

A typical recipe would possibly embody the following:

  • Six elements muscle meat with floor bone (rooster thighs, drumsticks)
  • One half gizzards or organs (rooster liver, coronary heart, abdomen)
  • 1/2 half egg (as a protein-rich binder)

To cut back your ingredient prices, purchase household packs of meat and eggs, and search for gross sales at your grocery retailer. Don’t accept something that’s close to its expiration date although – in the event you wouldn’t eat it, your cat shouldn’t both.

Between a $12 household pack of muscle meat, a $4 field of eggs, and a $4 pack of rooster organs, you can also make two weeks of do-it-yourself cat meals for $20. If you feed your cat high-quality moist meals daily that prices over $1 per three-ounce can, you possibly can cut back your bills by greater than 50%.

Some do-it-yourself cat meals advocates are fairly keen about utilizing a meat grinder, which might value as little as $15 for a small mannequin, or greater than $50 for a bigger, sturdier one. However, there’s appreciable debate about whether or not it’s really higher to enable cats to gnaw on arduous bones, as they’d in the wild. Do your individual analysis and seek the advice of a pet diet specialist earlier than taking on this additional expense. Also, analysis whether or not to go the uncooked or cooked meals route (or a combine of each), as there’s appreciable debate over which is finest to your cat’s well being.

If you make huge batches – a time-effective transfer – make certain to separate the combination into small parts for freezing. For the sake of your cat’s well being, you need to take a look at respected on-line sources or speak to your veterinarian for wholesome, well-balanced do-it-yourself cat meals recipes.

4. Practice Portion Control

Whether you purchase healthful meals at your native pet retailer or make your individual from scratch, it’s necessary to rigorously management your cat’s consumption. Adult cats typically solely want two three-ounce cans of high-protein moist meals ($1 to $1.50, or extra), or an equal quantity of do-it-yourself meals every day, when unfold over a morning and night feeding. If you’re utilizing high-quality dry meals, a half-cup in the morning and half-cup in the night ought to be adequate. Just make certain to test along with your vet earlier than settling on any feeding quantity, as each animal is totally different.

Whatever you do, don’t “free-feed” – reflexively filling your cat’s meals bowl when it’s empty or almost so. Weight achieve, and all its attendant well being issues, could comply with. Controlling parts doesn’t simply cut back your meals bills – it might additionally forestall pricey vet visits.

5. Manage Your Litter Box

Unless your cats spend most of their time open air, you in all probability already change your litter field regularly. However, relying on their utilization habits, litter may be almost as huge an expense as meals. Control this value by buying clumping, odor-fighting litter ($12 to $20 per tub) and avoiding the low-cost, non-clumping, generic-smelling stuff. Clumping litter lasts longer and controls odor higher, permitting you to stretch every field additional earlier than altering.

My spouse and I used to spend about $9 per tub of non-clumping litter, or roughly $20 per thirty days. We now get not less than a month out of our $15 tub (similar dimension) of clumping litter – a financial savings of 25%. Clumping, odor-fighting litter isn’t a complete cure-all, although. If odor persists, you need to use scent plugs or candles ($2 to $3) to management it in the field’s neighborhood. And, ensure you change the field sufficient to hold your cat completely happy: Cats could protest soiled containers by doing their business elsewhere in the room. I do know mine do.

Manage Litter Box

6. Look for Discounts on Feline Care

If you care about the heath of your cats, you need to take them to the vet not less than as soon as per year and be sure that their vaccines are up to date. As your cat ages, your vet journeys could turn out to be extra frequent and expensive.

You can decrease the value of veterinarian visits – with out skimping on care – in a number of methods:

  • Vet Payment Plans. See in case your vet affords a fee plan for bigger payments. If not, think about in search of a second opinion earlier than continuing with any costly therapies, and probably change suppliers altogether.
  • Discounts on Basic Services. For annual vaccines, spaying, and neutering, look into discounted companies at your native animal shelter or cellular vet clinic. For occasion, the Vanguard Veterinary Services cellular clinic in San Antonio affords a $35 low cost, relative to its in-office worth, on spaying and neutering. That’s a discount of 50%.
  • Pet Charities. For all kinds of companies, native pet charities could present monetary help for lower-income pet homeowners. Eligibility is usually determined on a case-by-case foundation. Check along with your native Humane Society office for choices in your space.
  • Pet Insurance. If you’re anxious about an surprising sickness or hereditary well being situation main to a crushing medical invoice, look into pet insurance coverage. Veterinary Pet Insurance, a subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance, affords cat medical insurance plans for as little as $11 per thirty days. Compared to a $4,000 surgical invoice, that’s small change.

7. Keep Them Hydrated

Keeping your cats hydrated during times of heat climate is important. When we lived in the northern Michigan woods, it didn’t get scorching fairly often, so I refused to get an air conditioner. Bad transfer.

During an unseasonable warmth wave, each of our cats exhibited worrying signs – lethargy, issues urinating and defecating, and avoiding human contact. We took them to the vet and bought the similar prognosis for each: dehydration. The feminine had a bowel obstruction attributable to dehydration, as properly. The mixed invoice, together with an in a single day keep for the feminine, was north of $400.

The vet beneficial altering their water a number of instances per day throughout the summer season, since cats choose cool, recent water. She additionally beneficial every day moist meals feedings, which up till that time, we hadn’t been doing. And she revealed that, in a pinch, you possibly can offset gentle dehydration by making use of water to cats’ absorbent neck pores and skin. In reality, that’s how she stabilized them at the appointment. If we had adopted these suggestions, we in all probability might have prevented our feminine’s bowel obstruction, diminished each cats’ dehydration signs, and averted the vet invoice altogether.

8. Restrict Outdoor Activity

When we lived in a home with a cat door, our male cat freely roamed the neighborhood. If the useless bunnies and squirrels he introduced to our porch had been any indication, he was fairly lively. He got here residence limping sooner or later although – in all probability the consequence of a fall from a excessive perch. He wasn’t significantly injured, but it surely took a couple of weeks for him to return to full normalcy.

We could have gotten off straightforward – free-roaming home cats can get into severe tussles with different out of doors animals, some fairly nasty. A combat with a raccoon, fox, coyote, or feral cat could trigger deep lacerations, damaged bones, mangled claws, and gouged eyes. The prices can add up rapidly: Diagnostic x-rays can value $100 to $200, an in a single day keep at the vet sometimes begins at $100, and a prescription for ache remedy can value between $40 and $300 per bottle.

Vehicle accidents are a grave danger as properly. A severe however non-fatal accident could cause main accidents similar to fractured pelvic bones and punctured lungs. According to Trupanion, post-accident surgical procedure and therapy can value almost $4,000. So whereas cats love to roam outdoors, you possibly can keep away from these prices – and defend your pet’s well being – by protecting them entertained indoors.

Dont Declaw Your Cat

9. Make Your Own Play Structures

Speaking of indoor leisure, a play structure – generally known as a cat tower, tree, or apartment – is a smart way to assist your feline burn off steam with out leaping out the window or scratching your furnishings. After all, cats love to climb and perch, and such conduct may be disruptive if it’s not managed.

Depending on their sturdiness and class, cat towers may be costly. The pretty primary Trixie Altea Cat Tree prices almost $50. The extra elaborate Kitty Mansions Redwood Cat Tree, which is greater than six ft tall and options three bed-like perches on high, prices almost $150. Really sophisticated constructions can exceed $200. So why not build your individual?

You want some sturdy items of plywood for the platforms, a few two-by-fours or wood poles for helps, and a few smooth material or outdated carpet – which might double as a good scratching floor. If you could have an outdated cat mattress or two, fasten them to your platforms to create a sturdy resting place in the sky. With a hammer and nails and the above provides, you possibly can put collectively a primary however stable tower in the course of a day.

Before beginning, look on-line for directions or schematics – in case your structure isn’t correctly designed or supported, it might turn out to be top-heavy and tip over, or just collapse in a heap. Neither state of affairs is good to your cats, nor to your residence. A correctly constructed cat tower kills two birds with one stone: You don’t have to pay retail worth for a pre-made structure, and you might keep away from pricey furnishings injury.

10. Be Careful During Child-Rearing

If you could have an toddler youthful than one year outdated and don’t but have a cat, wait till your little one is older. If you’re pregnant and have already got a cat, take precautions to keep away from contact with cat feces. In explicit, put on gloves when you have to clear the litter field, and don’t backyard with out gloves (if the cat goes open air).

The concern right here is toxoplasmosis, or “toxo” for brief. It’s a widespread cat parasite – particularly in feral, stray, and previously stray cats – that spreads by means of feces. Humans with wholesome immune programs can sometimes combat off an infection, however unborn kids are extra vulnerable. Even in the event you don’t contract toxo your self, publicity to the pathogen could enhance the danger of sure start defects, together with sensory impairments, epilepsy, and hydrocephalus (a harmful accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain). Toxo could trigger different issues as properly, although it’s necessary to speak to your vet and obstetrician to get the newest pondering on the concern.

Once your kids are born, it’s necessary to reduce their contact with cats. With thinner pores and skin and weaker immune programs than adults, infants may be significantly injured or contract toxoplasmosis – or each – from seemingly innocuous cat scratches.

Needless to say, you possibly can keep away from hefty medical payments – and heartache – by protecting your little one and cat fortunately separate. During your being pregnant, arrange nursery gear similar to a crib, altering tables, and toys as early as potential. This provides your cat time to get used to the new environment. At least a month earlier than giving start, declare these off-limits by spraying them with anti-scratch fluid – test along with your OB beforehand – or protecting them with cardboard and double-sided tape to frustrate the animal.

At this time, you must also dial again your interplay with the cat, pawning off playtime, feeding, and different duties on your companion or one other member of the family, if potential. When the child comes, this ensures that your cat doesn’t really feel prefer it has to compete to your consideration.

11. Don’t Get Your Cats Declawed

Cats love to scratch carpets, furnishings, partitions – just about something inside attain. It’s a fixed battle to redirect this conduct towards acceptable surfaces similar to scratching posts and flooring scratchers created from corrugated cardboard.

To remove scratching altogether, some cat homeowners choose to get their felines declawed. Though the surgical procedure is easy, it’s very painful for the cat. For out of doors cats – and indoor cats who could discover themselves outdoors from time to time – it additionally removes a key protection. According to The Humane Society, declawing produces ancillary points like decreased litter field utilization and elevated biting.

For people, the surgical procedure is pricey: Depending on the vet and technique used, it might set you again wherever from $100 to $500 – cheaper procedures could also be much less thorough and lift the risk of a redo down the line. It’s far cheaper to purchase a sturdy cat put up – as little as $15 at pet shops and on-line – or to build your individual out of wood or metallic poles and outdated carpeting.

cat scratching post

Final Word

For hundreds of thousands of Americans, pet possession is an emotionally fulfilling expertise. According to AVMA, greater than 30% of all households personal cats, and greater than 36% personal canine, although of course there’s some overlap there. Pet homeowners might also get pleasure from tangible well being advantages. According to a paper printed by Pet Partners, two 1989 research discovered that proudly owning a cat or canine decreased the incidence of despair in adults. A 2002 research cited in the similar paper discovered that pet homeowners have decrease blood strain and resting coronary heart charges than non-owners.

However, pet possession does require a dedication of time and money. If you could have much less of the latter than you’d like, in search of methods to stretch your pets’ budgets with out sacrificing their well being or consolation may be rewarding in and of itself.

What’s your favourite technique for saving money on your cat?

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