Although quality cat caretaking can be expensive, there are ways to save money if you have the time and inclination. Here are some tips or ideas which may spark a person into trying out alternatives. It is said that only amateurs pay retail! Therefore professional shoppers know how to save money and find the best value.
It seems to me that the more money we earn the busier we are and the more likely we are to throw items away that we no longer think we need or which are wasted. If we earn less money we often have more time because our working hours are shorter and that time can be usefully employed to find ways to cut the cost of quality cat caretaking.
This is obvious because if we do it ourselves were not paying someone else to do it for us and this applies, for example, to home-made cat toys which are just as good as commercially made toys (and e.g. see a bug jar!). You can also make your own cat shelter if you care for outdoor, semi-feral cats.
You can even make your own cat litter if you are really keen to save some money. It can be made with shredded newspaper which has been soaked in warm water mixed with a few squirts of a biodegradable dish soap. The water is drained off and the process repeated without the soap. You then sprinkle baking soda on the wet paper and knead it into a mixture. Squeeze the remaining moisture out and then leave it to dry. This is not for everyone and caution needs to be taken. I have not tried this myself so it will be up to the reader to check that it is safe.
Of course, and I am not encouraging people to let their cats out but if a cat is allowed outside then very often there is no need for cat litter.
You can make your own raw cat food. Very few people do this but if you put your mind to it, it isn’t that difficult. There are obstacles such as your cat does not like raw cat food after a lifetime of being fed commercially produced food or is addicted to dry but with commitment there are savings to be made and a more healthy cat.
Although in my opinion extreme couponing is a bit bizarre, in general, coupons can save money but it does take a little bit of commitment and time. That said if you know the ropes and become experienced in couponing it becomes easier and faster. I have a website on coupons but I have not been to it for years! Couponing is popular amongst a segment of society and has been more popular during the years of recession which the US is coming out off.
I think we all know this but very often it is cheaper to buy online. Online businesses often run sales and hand out coupons or free samples and offer free shipping.
Subscribing to save
If you subscribe to an online business because you wish to place recurring orders you may be able to obtain products at discounted prices.
I’ve not tried this myself but thrift stores and yard sales (in the USA) or car boot sales and charity shops (in the UK) probably do sell pet products, on occasions, and therefore it may be possible to make a healthy saving. You just have to make sure that the item is clean and does not harbour parasites for example! A good washing, if feasible, is probably recommended.
Buy in bulk
I’m told that in America you can buy cat litter by the pound from a giant bin at Petco. That sounds a good idea to me. Buying in bulk is obviously a good way to save money. You just have to make sure that it can all be used and that you don’t mind the storage.
Use price comparison websites
Personally, I am sceptical about price comparison websites but they are recommended. I am sceptical because the businesses who run the websites take commissions and therefore they cannot provide a wholly unbiased service.
Free gift cards
In America sites such as MyPoints and Swagbucks allow you to earn gift cards to be used on Amazon and other major online stores such as Walmart or Home Depot. I don’t know much about these but they deserve to be checked out.
Getting it for free
There’s a website called The Freecycle Network. This is a website based upon a very good idea. The idea is that rather than throwing something away where it ends up in landfill, people can offer to give away an unused item and they can do this on the website which appears to work in conjunction with Yahoo Groups. Yahoo Groups are useful for getting people together to discuss topics and in this instance to donate unused items. At the end of the day both the giver and the receiver benefit and so does the planet. This organisation operates in the USA and UK and perhaps other countries. You can pick up food, litter and other pet items using this method.
On Craigslist there is a free section. You may be lucky and pick something up or you might put up a wanted advert.
The pet food companies sometimes give away free samples. They do this to encourage people to subscribe to their Facebook webpages or their website. You subscribe and get a free sample. It takes a bit of effort and of course you will no doubt be bombarded with e-mail promotions (which you might enjoy, in fact) but you save some money and if you’re serious about saving money this is one more avenue.
It is said that you can post pictures on Facebook of your rescue cat or dog, enter into a dialogue with the viewers of the photograph and, of course, your friends on Facebook and you may end up with a cat product which one of your friends no longer requires.
On the ground (meaning not on the Internet) you might be able to organise a “pet-gear swap” at a local community centre such as a church.
Strictly speaking you don’t have to buy pet food and water bowls because if a human bowl is of the right size and shape that can be used as a substitute.
Be more precise
I don’t know about you but it is quite easy to end up throwing away quite a lot of cat food. It depends upon the cat and it depends upon how much food you put down and how frequently, but cats can leave some food in the bowl which goes off and therefore is thrown away. Not feeding on demand and being more precise about how much food you put down and when you put it down (i.e. with gaps in between putting food down) should save you some money on cat food.
The Humane Society of the United States has a section on their website headed “Having trouble affording your pet?”. This is a resource of local and national groups which offer free services and products such as food and veterinary care. I am sure it is worth checking out.
In the USA there are “pet food banks”. As far as I’m aware they don’t exist in the UK or other countries. However, food banks for people do exist in the UK and perhaps other countries and therefore you may get lucky if they also collect pet food and supplies.
With respect to vaccinations it may be possible to obtain them more cheaply by going to animal charities who run discount services such as the Michigan Humane Society which ran or used to run a $5 rabies distemper and parvovirus vaccination service.
It may be beneficial to discuss financial problems with your veterinarian. Veterinarians may sometimes base their services on the amount of time the service takes and knowing your financial situation he may shave some of that time off thereby reducing the bill. In addition, your veterinarian may know about local rescue or advocacy groups that donate supplies.
In the USA, people receiving Social Security or welfare and participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can apply for pet food stamps, as I understand it.
Also in the USA, there is a website, 2-1-1, which provides free and confidential information and referral. They can provide help with food, housing, health care and employment and more. I don’t know this service but it is worth checking out.
Animal Welfare Grants
Although not strictly applicable to this topic, I’d like to draw attention to a page on grants on PoC.
A big thanks to the major source of this information: Money Talk News and Sandy for finding it.