Like our children, we give our cats our hearts, our time, and ... our money. In fact, lots of money. In 2005, American pet parents spent $36.3 billion dollars on their furry friends. For many of us our cats are priceless, and we enjoy spoiling them with toys and treats; however, no one can pass up the opportunity to save some money.
Below are suggestions to help you save money on pet care. Perhaps you can set aside the money you will save for use on a pet emergency or as a donation to a local shelter.
Adopt a cat from the shelter. Rescued cats are significantly less expensive than a pet from a breeder. Shelter animals are typically spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and licensed before adoption, reducing some initial pet costs. Also, some people feel that mixed breed pets are healthier than purebred pets, possibly reducing future vet costs.
Do NOT go "cheap" on health care. Proper, quality health care is essential to the well-being of your cat. Find a reputable veterinarian, take his or her advice, and practice preventative care, and you will safely save money in the long term on cat health care.
Consider pet insurance. For a small, worthwhile, monthly fee, health insurance for your cat can cover the cost of preventative medicine and the treatment of illness and injury.
For major health problems, consider taking your cat to a teaching hospital / veterinary college. Often costs are not as extreme in these facilities, because patients are in high demand to teach students. These hospitals also utilize state-of-the-art procedures and medicines, which may be experimental and less expensive.
Spay and neuter. Spaying and neutering will reduce or prevent your pet from straying from your home; reducing injuries such as cat fight wounds, infectious diseases, and unwanted pregnancies. Spaying and neutering also reduces the risk of some cancers and infections.
Vaccinate. The cost of vaccines is much cheaper than treating the diseases they prevent.
Ask your veterinarian to show you how to do some of the routine cat care procedures, such as trimming nails and brushing teeth. Regularly performing these maintenance procedures will reduce your trips to the vet clinic.
Your cat truly does not care about the brand or cuteness of his toys. Be creative. Cats love to play with rolled up pieces of paper, plastic rings off milk cartons, pens, etc. Before paying big bucks, evaluate why you are buying extras, such as fancy beds. Does your cat really care if the bed is cashmere?
Food is another category where it does not pay to go "cheap". Generic or low-quality foods do not provide the nutrients your cat needs, which may lead to future expensive health problems. Your cat can eat a smaller amount of a high quality food than a lower quality food, again reducing cost.
The Red Cross offers pet first aid courses. Sign up for these classes, learn how to administer first aid to help your pet through times of minor injury, and save on vet bills.
Take a grooming class, or read a how-to book about grooming to save costs on maintaining your long haired cats (and prevent hairballs).
Look for Deals
Shop for cat supplies through wholesale catalogues, such as PetEdge. This will save you the middle-man mark up of pet stores.
Your veterinarian and other pet businesses may have specials during pet awareness periods. February is National Pet Dental Month, the second week of May is National Pet Week, and October is National Pet Wellness Month.
Save for a Rainy Day
Saving money where possible on cat care can help you prepare for a major pet expense, such as a life-threatening emergency. Setting aside money and/or a credit card will prevent stress and likely save your cat's life. When it comes to a situation like this, you will be thankful that you spent your money responsibly so that you could afford to have you pet around for many years.