Here are 7 tips combined with some reality-check thoughts on how to save cat caregiving costs during the cost-of-living crisis in the UK. A lot of people will want to try and save money over the winter particularly with dramatically escalated gas and electricity charges. There are reports of an increase in cat and dog surrenders due to the cost-of-living crisis as people seek to cut household expenses. Rather than abandon your pet is far better to find ways to make looking after them more financially manageable.
- With respect to pet insurance, you might be able to reduce the annual cost of pet insurance by excluding a pre-existing condition from the cover. I take this idea from Tom Kenny who saved more than £600 in 2021 when insuring his Staffordshire bull terrier. His dog has pyoderma (a skin condition) which causes ulcers and it makes him scratch. He had been paying £112 a month on insurance because of the claims he had to make for medication, Apoquel. He bought the product from his vet. When he excluded this condition from the insurance and he bought the pills from Pet Drugs Online using a veterinary prescription his premiums went down to £18 a month. He pays £7 for the prescription and about £120 for 100 Apoquel tablets. His dog requires one tablet a day which means he pays £700 a year in total for insurance and medication compared to £1,344.
- Buying cat food in bulk is a way to save money. And where you buy the food from can also save you money. For example, buying bulk food online from perhaps Amazon or Costco is going to be cheaper than buying it from a supermarket. The only difficulty with this process is that you’ve got to be absolutely sure that your cat genuinely likes the food and will continue to like it. I tend to favour building in flexibility into cat food purchases to ensure that I can provide a variety of tastes and textures for my cat to ensure that he maintains his appetite.
- You can also bulk-by cat litter and at a pinch, you could use sand or wood chippings. Or you can make your own cat litter from old newspaper. It depends how keen you are to cut costs under these difficult times in the UK. And of course, you can buy cheaper varieties of cat litter. It depends how keen you are on protecting the environment and protecting your cat. Some cat litter kicks up more dust than others which is potentially damaging to a cat. Personally, I wouldn’t cut corners on cat litter in the interests of cat health. P.S. If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat there is no need to buy cat litter as they go to the toilet in the garden or surrounding area. This might seem a solution to many. For one reason some cats go to the toilet in their neighbours backyard.
- Turning again to pet insurance, it is probably better in general to run your own insurance program by putting aside about £50-70 per month if you can afford it which would provide for a veterinary bill of £840 a year. One insurance company said that the average claim was for £848 last year up from £817 in 2020 and £789 the year before. This is called self-insurance and it makes an awful lot of sense to me (but takes self-discipline). The downside is that it takes one year to build up enough funds to pay for one big veterinary bill. You just have to be lucky enough to have one year without any big medical problem which normally shouldn’t be a problem in a younger cat.
- I’m a fan of home-made cat food but you have to be skilled both in its manufacture and storage. You have to avoid bacterial infections but if you can do all this you will probably save money and improve your cat’s health at the same time. Veterinarians generally advise against cat owners making their own raw cat food because of the potential dangers of bacterial contamination.
- There is an increase in full-time indoor cats in developed countries nowadays. The method protects wildlife and potentially it can improve cat health but there are downsides such as an increased chance of obesity and the lack of environmental enrichment resulting in boredom and the lack of stimulation. However, one advantage is that you should not really need to treat your cat for fleas or endoparasites such as worms. Cats normally get intestine worms from eating mice and they get fleas from mice as well or other prey animals. And indeed, other cats. But they can also get fleas from their owner as they might bring them into the home and so it is not entirely certain that a full-time indoor cat will not get fleas. However, the chances are slim and in any case you can flea comb your cat once or twice a day to check and if there are one or two you can simply remove them with the comb and kill them. P.S. if you are converting from indoor/outdoor cat to full-time indoor cat you’ll have to do a holistic anti-flea cleanup to make sure your start with a flea-free home.
- Some cat owners will want to employ pet sitters to look after their cat when they go away. This is generally better than placing your cat in a boarding cattery. An alternative to using a professional cat sitting business is to set up a pet network i.e. work with people you know to share the load. This is not going to be convenient a lot of the time but it may work some of the time. It probably happens quite often but if you have a full-time indoor cat, you’re going to need to have somebody visiting your home they regularly (several times per day at least and stay there for a while) or even live in your home. Looking after someone else’s cat is highly problematic, however. What I mean is the friend who is your cat sitter takes on an enormous responsibility. What if they lose your cat because they escape from the home? It can happen because a stranger will be in the house with your cat and your cat might become upset and want to vacate the home and therefore find a way to escape.
If you have any idea on saving cat caregiving expenses, please share them in a comment.