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Saving money on cat food

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I know this is a topic that has come up before, but I'm wondering if anyone has some ideas for saving money on cat food. I currently feed (3) indoor and (3) feral cats, in addition to providing dry food to a neighbor for her colony. My wife and I are in our 30s and we're trying hard to save money for a house. When I did our budget - our groceries and cat food were two of the highest "costs" that we can control (i.e., costs that aren't fixed costs like car payments). Of course we want to give the cats quality food.

Here's the deal:
  • The outside ferals get Friskies wet and a bowl of dry (Purina One) each day. They're not finicky at all.
  • The inside cats can't eat dry - they put on weight and they're addicted to it (crying, whining). They're pretty finicky (one moreso than others). We feed them Pro Plan wet food, which is now 79c per 3oz can in our area. They like the various chicken flavors and tuna.
  • They do like Fancy Feast Chopped Grill, but I **don't** consider it a quality food, so I don't feed it often.

I've tried various "quality" brands and organics, but either the cats can't tolerate it or dislike it and try to bury it. The only natural wet they like is Dick Van Patten's Venison food.

Any ideas? We're interested in coupons, online sites, bulk buys, etc...

I've checked pricing online, and although slightly cheaper, any savings is usually eaten up by shipping costs.

post #2 of 15
well Natural balance has coupons ... try there site .. also they have a buy so many cases get one free programs

where are you buying??? feed and farm type stores often are cheaper ...
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
I live in a suburban area, so I usually buy at Petsmart, Petco, or one of the similar places. For the ferals, sometimes Costco will have deals on Friskies, but the chain stores will usually have cans in the low 30s cents per can. The smaller privately owned stores nearby tend to be more expensive.

It's really the quality stuff that we feed the indoor cats that's the problem (espeically when the food they like is 79c per can X 3 cats).

I'd say we spend between $4-$5 per day overall on pet food, which is over $1600 / year, plus hundreds (thousands) on vet visits, etc...

Anything we can do to ease that is welcome...
post #4 of 15
try this link

also Costco makes a GREAT dry food and 25lbs is about 14$
post #5 of 15
You might look at Trader Joe's cat food as a possibility. It tends to be about 70 cents for a 5.5 ounce can--a good deal if your cats will eat it. Another option would be mixing their favorite with another food that is cheaper, or trying to get them to eat a food that comes in larger cans (for example, California Natural, Innova, and Eagle Pack all come in 13+ ounce cans that tend to be cheaper).
post #6 of 15
Well I try to visit feed stores instead of places like Petco/Petsmart because they are generally cheaper and provide a better quality food. I also like to buy in bulk as it is cheaper than paying for each can. I would recommend buying a big case of the largest size bag or can of food your manufacturer makes since you have 6 cats to feed. I only have 2 cats and I buy 24 cans at a time and a 16 lb bag of dry. You have to put more money up front this way, but it saves in the long run. Lastly, you could write manufacturers for coupons, although I've never done so and am not so sure what to say without coming off wrong.

Although you didn't ask.. another suggestion in general is to get into couponing for all areas of your life. How much you want to save is really up to you....I'm very frugal and there are websites I frequent that have ads posted 2-3 weeks ahead of time for cvs, walgreens etc. so I can plan to buy something when there's a good deal going on, and the deal is always sweeter if you have a coupon saved up. This does take a lot of time to read through all the ads and remember which deal was at which store and which week, but at the very least, I encourage you to clip coupons for things you already use!
post #7 of 15
The BEST way that I have found to save money on cat food is through mail in rebates. Honestly, I hardly ever pay for dry food and that's the truth. Most of the time there is one company offering a rebate. For example, last month Nutro Max had a "free bag" rebate where you mailed in the UPC and receipt and got all your money back. Nutro Natural Choice (my preferred brand) has rebates about every 2-3 months, usually free or save $5 to $10. I even take advantage of dog food offers even though I don't have a dog, I just donate the food to the local shelter.

BTW, the rebate forms are in the pet food stores (usually Pet Valu if you have one).

Another GREAT way to save money on food is free samples--if you go to a pet show they are always giving away samples or you can buy bags at greatly reduced prices. In March I went to the big annual pet show and, honest to God, I estimated that I got about $300 of free food and treats (dog and cat) in samples. And this is all the top quality brands too. Mind you, I did take my husband with me so he could also get samples At the show they were also selling big bags of Eagle Pack food for $5 and cans of Lick Your Chops for 50 cents which usually are $1.50-$2.00 in stores.

My best advice: just watch for deals!
post #8 of 15
My suggestions would be the following:
1. Make up a list of all of the companies you are interested in (food, treats, etc.), find their websites and look for current mail in rebates, etc... Also, take the time to make up a "form" letter and email it to all of the companies. I did this when I was looking into high-end food and got TONS of coupons and free samples back. Nutro has a frequent buyer program (you get a book of coupons and info about how it works when you email about it). Natural balance also sent me coupons.... Although for cases or large bags. Almost all companies that I contacted sent me either info, coupons, or free samples.

2. Buy in bulk. I though about the same as you did in terms of buying online (eek! at the shipping costs). But, if I play around with quantities and save up my money (order enough food for 3-4 months at a time) I can order enough that the discounts on PFD (petfooddirect) are greater than shipping costs. FYI they also have a sale on the NB vennison/pea right now The key to this though, is knowing that your cats like the food beforehand and knowing that you have somewhere to store it. I would NOT order the cheaper grocery store type foods (including proplan) online because you can get coupons in the mail/they are on sale locally more often. Also, keep in mind that with the price of gas, it might actually be cheaper to pay shipping than to go to the store...

3. Once you have coupons...start watching the store can check petco and petsmart online... At one point, I got a 10lb bag of NB green pea and duck that was on sale for $5 off original price, then I had a $3 off coupon from $8 off bag price. Nutro also goes on sale at petsmart about once every 2-3 if you have nutro coupons, wait and you can really get a good deal when it's on sale.

4. Check into some of the slightly cheaper cats are also very picky...only like the "loaf" style cans... They pretty much LOVE most of the authority cans (petsmart brand) and at ~65 cents for a 6oz can, thats pretty cheap...They also come in many flavors. No animal by-products either

5. Buy in bigger cans... I have bought the california natural cans and the EVO 95% meat cans (chicken and beef). With the pfd discount (and ordering a large amount of food to reduce shipping cost) I ended up paying about 85/90 cents for a 13oz ~42-45 cents per 6 oz... Not bad at all. BUT again, you must be sure that your cats like the food and that they will eat warmed canned food...Because yours only eat canned, they'd probably go through 1 13oz can a day, so the food would not get too old. You can check to see if there's an EVO/natura dealer in your area by going to (I think) they have a zip code locator. Eagle pack also sells in larger cans.

Good luck in your quest to save $$! I can definately sympathize with you on that.
post #9 of 15
Proplan seems expensive for the quality, when you compare it to a food like Authority. Authority appears to be better quality and half the price (~$0.65/6 oz can). If you haven't tried that, you might want to. Actually, Pro Plan seems quite expensive - there are probably foods of equal or better quality for less money. I've found that buying in 3oz cans is ridiculously more expensive than larger cans, especially if you can find one with 12-13 oz cans.

I think those suggesting buying in bulk is a good idea.

I'm not sure how shipping at PFD is calculated, but if it is a flat rate as opposed to per item, perhaps you could get ALL your cat food through there and save a little money on all of it.
post #10 of 15
Personally I'd just feed the ferel cats dry food. Costco has a very large bag (20 lbs) of Feline Maintenance that we got for our barn cats. Its pretty good quality food and only about $14-15 for a bag.
post #11 of 15
I'd try buying in bulk. I order cat food online, as the selection at local pet stores is pretty bad. Talk to friends and neighbors, and see if they'd be interested in your ordering for them. I usually buy a number of different "ultra premium foods" by the case (often 5 or 6 cases), not just for our cat (and hedgehog), but for neighbors, colleagues, and the local shelter. The savings are often 20% - 30%, and I get free shipping. You could buy big bags of dry, and split them into smaller portions for other people, or freeze portions of 5 lbs. or so. Most of the suppliers I use let me know when they have special offers on certain foods, which also saves money.

Just make sure that the supplier gives you the "Best Before ..." date before you order, and that you have enough storage space. I pay up front, and then demand cash on delivery from my fellow customers.
post #12 of 15
I buy something and get a bag full of samples. I go to the same pet stores where they know me and they give me samples. My strays eat everything I put out.

I don't feed dry to my inside cats.
post #13 of 15
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
well Natural balance has coupons ... try there site .. also they have a buy so many cases get one free programs ...
Where on the Natural Balance site do you find coupons? Or the buy so many cases & get one free?
post #14 of 15
Originally Posted by Misty8723 View Post
Where on the Natural Balance site do you find coupons? Or the buy so many cases & get one free?
their demonstrators always have coupons ( ie ask the store when theyll be there)... on their site is the buy 10 get one free( bags or cases_)
post #15 of 15
I would just feed the ferals dry food.

Buy cans in sizes larger than 3oz. Right now at PetSmart, Nutro Max is on sale (at least where I live) and the 6oz cans are something like $0.50-$0.60 each, and I split that 6oz can between 2 cats for a feeding. So that is only $0.25-$0.30/meal for 1 cat. That is about 50% off the normal Nutro Max price. So pay attention to sales, but mostly buy larger cans! With multiple cats you don't even have to deal with sticking leftovers in the fridge. Authority is even cheaper than Nutro but the ingredients are I think similar to Nutro Natural. Nutro Max usually goes over well with picky cats. You said they eat the Natural Balance venison, which here is $0.80 for a 6oz can, so the Pro Plan is twice as expensive as that since you said you pay $0.79 for 3oz.

Nutro Max, Nutro Natural, and Authority are cheaper than Pro Plan and imo have better ingredients.
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