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Cutting costs = cutting corners?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
We seem to spend an outrageous amount of money on our cats. Top quality foods, vet care, toys, litter boxes, litter, leashes, collars, beds, etc. They are spoiled. Maybe a little too spoiled. As a frugal college student, I have to ask...is there really any way to lower the cost of caring for cats? Does cutting the cost of their care have to mean cutting the quality of their care?

*Disclaimer: I'm not looking for any attacks on how it costs money to care for animals, and if I can't afford it I shouldn't have them, blah blah, etc. I know these things.
post #2 of 15
Make toys and beds ... fabric for a common cat bed is about 5$ on sale and makes a few beds vs spending 10-20 a bed

I get leashes and collars at the feed store ... same as pet store but feed store it is 2.50 vs 6 at pet store

litter depends sometimes there are cheaper alternatives ... like if using feline pine pellets try wood pellets

food lower priced wet often can be decent quality
post #3 of 15
Do you know what my younger cat Tomas's favorite bed is? (and has been since he claimed it 5 weeks ago) ...A shoe box.

Cat's aren't picky. Save your money for the important things such as vet care and food - and even then you can save money if you're careful. Look in the health and nutrition section for better suggestion on food, such as what cans or dry come in amounts that get you the most for your money. As for vet care, regular check ups and preventing the problems will save in the long run (ie - brush teeth, keep strings and chemicals/cleaners put up).

Toys - anything that won't possibly hurt a cat is fine. A wadded up ball of paper is a fine toy. Check dollar stores, some have decent cat toys. I also buy a few here and there, usually in packs with more than one in them and put the extras away for later.
Old pillows can even be reused as a cat bed, a plus is that it smells like you - just put it in a box or basket.

I don't understand why anyone needs a fancy litter box. As long as the cat has plenty of room, it works. Litter will always get tracked out - sweep and/or vacuum more. I use large storage containers (not even rubbermaid brand as those cost more).
post #4 of 15
I bought Indy a 'starter set' for £2 at Tescos, depending on where you are... WalMart type place may have similar sets for the basics, I put Indy's litter tray in a cardboard box to contain his digging somewhat and cut an Indy sized hole in the side.
the set contained litter tray, scoop, a duel bowl and 4 toys (2 jingly balls, a rubber ball and a catnip mouse)
I bought foam and fabric for £6/$12 to make him a plush 'hidey' bed as I love to sew and he gets screwed up newspaper and loo roll inner tubes as extra toys, oh and some shopping around got him one lil basic scratching post for £3/$6 and some searching on eBay got a 5 ft cat tree/activity centre with a recommended retail price of £240/$470 ish and I paid £40/$80 including next day delivery. He gets whatever kitten food is on sale, currently felix as I got a chance at 12 carton boxes for 1/3 price because the box was damaged, food fine. Litter comes in big sacks from the local market where it is about half retail prices.
I only work part time so I bargain hunt :P
post #5 of 15
Cats sleep anywhere and never on a permanent basis so fancy beds are a waste of money, IMO.
Most of the toys are now lying around gathering dust, the cats prefer the cardboard shoebox, the ball of paper, an old slipper,...
I have only two official litter boxes, the other 6 are big, plastic wash basins.
The expense I would never cut down is veterinary care.
post #6 of 15
I have to agree, save your $$ for food and vet care because those are the most important. My cats love cardboard boxes and usually sleep on my bed
post #7 of 15
All of the points that everyone has made so far have been great and I totally agree, I'd like to note a couple things relating to food and vet bills that might help, as well.

1. For food, find a good quality dry and cans that your cats will eat, but won't break the bank...For me, Nutro Max is a pretty good dry and isn't that expensive, it is also available in most stores... For cans, I'm feeding authority (only available at petsmart). When looking for a cheaper, but good brand, email the companies and ask for coupons, samples, etc. That way you won't waste money trying things out. Nutro has a good customer rewards program and their products also go on sale regularly.

2. Once you've selected your brand, shop around. You can look at store circulars online and/or call stores to see if your products are on sale... Then, if you have any coupons (from the company,etc.) use those when the products are on sale to get the best possible price. I know this is time-consuming, but it can save you a lot of money (once I got a bag of nutro that was on sale for $10.99, I used a coupon for $2 off, so got a bag that was noramlly $14 for ~$8.

3. With regards to food, often, you can buy in bulk and save... I buy the 15 - 20lb bags of dry whenever I can and then store the excess in ziploc freezer bags in the freezer. one 15lb gag will last me ~3 months. You can also sometimes buy cases of cans at a discount. BUT I always take a calculator and check the price of a bag devided by the # of pounds in the bag to get the price per pound.. Sometimes store make you think that you are getting a good deal when the smaller bag is a better deal. Yes, people do look at me funny when I take out the calculator in the catfood isle.

4. Vet costs- Although I have never used them, often local humane societies will give vaccinations at a reduced cost...like $5 for a rabies vacc. I would still reccommend that you go to your normal vet for a physical, but getting the vaccs at the shelter may say you some money... I know that it cost me $144 to get 3 vaccs and exams for my two kittens....If I had gotten the vaccs at the shelter, it would have cut off probably $30.

5. As for litterboxes, bowls, etc.... Sometimes you can find good pet bowls and litter boxes at the thrift store... I got a nice stainless steel bowl for 5 cents Anything that you get used though, wash and sanatize thuroughly. Dollar stores often carry pet bowls, toys, etc. I would not, however, buy pet food from them (for the same reasons I don't buy human food from them).

post #8 of 15
My only advice is to be a smart shopper.

I recently started my boys on wet food once a day. I managed to get Nutro Max wet on sale for 40 cents, its 65 cents not on sale. I bought alittle more than two cases so that hopefully by the time I'm out, it will be on sale again at Petsmart.

I switched from Tidy Cats blue Scoop to off brand. I have used Sam's club brand (terribly dusty) and I'm now using Meijer brand and its great, almost identical of Tidy Cats but about $4 cheaper.

I have been making a lot of cat toys. I just started on a new batch. The first batch didn't cost me more than a couple bucks I used some old wool scarves we weren't using, fiber fill and catnip which we had already at the house. This second batch cost me about $3. I bought a 87 cent bandana at Hobby Lobby, some jingle bells and ribbon for mouse tails. Out of that one bandana I''ll make about 12 toys.

post #9 of 15
Using chicken feed/scooping blend or even just plain feed will save $$ in cat litter! I use Champion Brand unscented scooping ($8 for 40lbs. at KMart) and Layer Krackettes ($14 for 50lbs. at feed store). The blend really keeps the smell down, just like WBCL or FeliPine, and the cats like it best!!
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by artgecko View Post
3. With regards to food, often, you can buy in bulk and save... I buy the 15 - 20lb bags of dry whenever I can and then store the excess in ziploc freezer bags in the freezer. one 15lb gag will last me ~3 months. You can also sometimes buy cases of cans at a discount. BUT I always take a calculator and check the price of a bag devided by the # of pounds in the bag to get the price per pound.. Sometimes store make you think that you are getting a good deal when the smaller bag is a better deal. Yes, people do look at me funny when I take out the calculator in the catfood isle.

I never even thought of freezing the dry food. We have one with allergies, so he's on some expensive wet food, and the other is left to try to eat 12lbs of dry food before it goes off. (I'm not over feeding him, but you know what I mean...) When you defrost the kibble, does it ever get soggy though?
post #11 of 15
I am a college student, and I've even had some bad luck and $1000 vet visits. You find a way.

As for their food and litter I use top brands, (wellness, orijens and arm&hammer) these are my main costs and I just factor them into my monthly bills. i know ~ how much food they go through and I've had it in my budget.

The other things are one time buys. Their toys I buy on ebay for really cheap! I do have a cat bed that I got for $5 because it had a huge rip, but I fixed it myself, and my dad made them their cat condo for my birthday, I asked for an automatic waterer for christmas.

Really making sure they have decent food and vet when they need it is all you have to factor, other then that cats are pretty self sufficient, they rarely even use their cat bed just another soft place to sleep.
post #12 of 15
whitforest- I've never had a problem with that, but I do take a couple steps to prevent it... 1. When the food is defrosting (inside the ziploc) I put a clean, dry paper towel inside the bag with it.
2. I wipe off the outside of the ziploc (where condensation forms) so that the condensation won't transfer to the food.
3. I dump the dry food, after thawing, into a seperate "cereal" air-tight container...If you are concerned about moisture, you can keep a pape towel in with the food.

1 ziploc is about enough for 1 cat to eat 3/4 weeks IME. I will get 3/4 gallon sized bags out of 1 15lb bag of food (I always wait to open the bag until my "cereal container" is out as bagged food will last up to 1 year unopened).

I also froze the chicken feed/layer granules catsknowme mentioned when I bought it in 50lb bags...to prevent bugs from getting into it.

Of course, it helps if you have plenty of freezer room (my family has a chest freezer so that takes care of my storage needs).

post #13 of 15
I agree with the people who posted before me. I spend money on the best cat food I can find, and of course save money for vet care, but I don't buy many expensive toys and beds anymore. I just bought my cats a tunnel bed and a cat perch with toys hanging off of it.
You know where Molly's been sleeping? The box that the perch came in.
post #14 of 15
Just a silly little thing, but I buy a new collar when they go on clearance at walmart or target.

I make sure to buy food and litter ahead or when I have a little extra money, I am a petsmart member (what is it called, pet perks?) and you can get discounts that way.
post #15 of 15
I don't think you have to necessarily "cut corners" to save money. We switched to Wal-Mart scooping cat litter. That alone cut our litter cost in half. The cats like it just as well as Tidy Cats. I shop sales, especially if I have coupons to combine with sales. I buy the dry food in big bags (15-20 lbs).

For toys, I've made them myself in the past. Now I mostly catch them on sale or clearance (Petco is a GREAT source of clearance toys--they mark them waaaay down). Just recently I got the Catfisher Bobber toy for $4 on clearance at Petsmart, all because the company changed the colors and lures. So now, I'll watch for a sale on the new replacement lures and our Catfisher toys (we also have the fishing rod) will be 2 toys in one. The guys' all time favorite toys are the Yeow Catnip toys (bananas, cigars, etc) and those tend to be holiday/birthday gifts. They last a long time.
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