Can you spoil your cat AND save money? Yes you can. If you’re like most people, you’re working hard to make your money work as hard as you do, but you’d still like to enjoy the fruits of your labor. When it comes to pet care, you really can do both – but only if you know what corners to cut and how to get the most for your money. Problem is, many people don’t.
While we’ve long recognized in human medicine that preventive care works better – it’s less expensive, and less painful – than dealing with preventable illness or injury, too few cat parents pursue wellness care for their cats. But educating yourself about wellness care and working with your veterinarian to provide your cat with it really will save in the long run. It’s the best place to start saving, in fact, even if it costs you on the front end.
What is Wellness Care?
First, let’s stress what it’s not: yearly shots. Vaccinations are no longer recommended annually for most cats, but that’s not a good reason to skip your cat’s yearly vet check (twice-yearly for older cats). These “well-pet” examinations can spot little problems before they become expensive ones. You also want to be sure not to neglect dental care. You can and should ask your veterinarian about short-term promotions (such as for Dental Health Month every February) and dental care discounts such as for multi-cat families or senior citizens. Lastly, while it used to be a highly contentious issue within the veterinary community, you can and should ask for your veterinarian to write a prescription for generic medication to be filled elsewhere – but do give your veterinarian the chance to match prices.
Don’t price shop for veterinary care, however. You’ll get the best care for your cat by working in partnership with your veterinarian, and once you have found a good one, building a relationship of trust and respect. In terms of human medicine, again, can you imagine searching for the cheapest pediatrician or cardiac surgeon? Of course not!
Despite your best intentions, accidents and illnesses can happen. That’s why it’s important to be sure you can cover your cat’s care by having cat health insurance.
The advances in veterinary specialty care are amazing, but they are often expensive. Pet health insurance will allow you to make the best decision based on your cat’s medical needs, not your bank account or credit line.
Aside from veterinary care, there are some fairly easy ways to save significant money on cat care.
Here are a few tips to help you save money on your cats care:
Keep your cat fit and trim.
A majority of cats are overweight and those extra pounds increase the likelihood of serious health problems such as arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. If your cat is overweight, get your veterinarian’s help to reduce weight slowly to avoid the health risks of sudden weight loss, especially in cats.
Learn to do things yourself.
Most people can learn to handle basic cat grooming at home, from brushing, nail trims and even bathing if needed. If nothing else, you can probably stretch out time between professional grooming for high-maintenance cats with some at-home care.
Brush your cat’s teeth.
This tip is more about health than grooming but it’ll lengthen the time between necessary but expensive cleanings at your veterinarian. Learn more on “how to brush your cat’s teeth”.
Minimize risk from accidents.
Saving the life of a cat who has been hit by a car or poisoned can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars – and these tragedies can often be prevented. Keeping cats as indoor-only cats will prevent injuries and protect them from communicable diseases.
Go through your home with an eye toward possible hazards, especially foods, plants and drugs that can be ingested, as well as cleaning supplies, pesticides and herbicides.
Consider purchases carefully and buy in bulk.
Shopping for cats can be great fun, but that new designer heated bed may be something you want to postpone if there’s wear left on what your cat’s current bed. When it comes to toys, though, cut them back, but not out. Cats love to play and often if occupied may prevent them from scratching on your favorite chair or sofa.
You can save money buying the largest bags of food or litter, or get case discounts on canned goods. Split your dry food purchases with family or a friend, and store your portion in an airtight container. (Do keep product info from the bag, though, in case there are questions or problems. You can cut out the information and save it or just snap a picture with a smartphone.) Buying in bulk is usually better than dropping in quality. And ask your veterinarian for recommendations in the price range you can afford.