I am sure that most cat caregivers want to provide the highest quality cat care at the lowest possible cost. I hope that I can provide some tips and tricks to meet that objective. In America, it is said that is common to spend about $800 annually to look after a domestic cat companion. Here are some thoughts about providing high-quality cat caregiving while minimising cost. The article might not be comprehensive because there’s lots to think about and these thoughts have come to me spontaneously. I might have missed something. If so, please comment. Comments are always welcome.
Bringing home a new cat: one-time cost
If you go down the purebred cat route you have already abandoned the idea of minimising costs. This is because you will have to purchase a purebred cat (normally) unless you are given one. Purchasing purebred cats in America can range between $500 to perhaps $5000 depending upon the breed and the quality of the individual cat.
At the opposite end of the cost spectrum, you can do what I did, in which case there is zero cost. I fostered a kitten from a local rescue organisation. I then decided to adopt the kitten because I simply couldn’t let him go to a new home. Under the fostering arrangement the kitten was vaccinated fully. And also, the booster vaccination session was funded by the rescue organisation.
The cost of neutering my cat was also funded by the same rescue organisation. This is part of the deal they have with foster carers. And, finally, my cat was micro-chipped. There was no cost to me.
I therefore acquired a new cat that was fully vaccinated, micro-chipped and neutered without any cost.
I think this is about taking proactive action. The better the cat caregiving the lower the overall costs in the long term. Clearly, keeping a domestic cat indoors full-time is the ultimate form of proactive cat caregiving because you remove almost entirely the possibility of the cat being stolen or injured when roaming around outside (they might escape). And you dramatically reduce the possibility of a cat acquiring a contagious disease from another cat. Of course, it depends upon whether there are other animals in the home but the risks are reduced which is about proactive caregiving.
However, I don’t subscribe to the idea of keeping a cat full-time inside a home all their lives. I believe that a cat needs some outdoor space and therefore there should be a garden closure. The cat is as safe as being indoors full-time. However, very few people have full garden enclosures. Catios are quite popular these days as a smaller alternative. A lot of people build their own which certainly saves costs. An enterprising lady in the Middle East did it ($800).
Both catios and garden enclosures together with the home are perhaps the best form of proactive cat caregiving to reduce costs and to provide a decent life. You can throw into the pot a nice trip down to the park in a cat stroller ?. Strollers are not a massive expensive (Amazon).
By accoutrements I mean the bits and pieces that you might buy your cat such as a bed, a cat tree, cat brushes, litter box, scratching posts, cat carrier and food and water bowls.
You can’t skimp on a cat scratching post which should be the best quality possible. There should be two or three and some horizontal ones in the home. These are going to cost all-together about $100 when bought on Amazon.
You can’t avoid a cat litter box if your cat is full-time indoors. If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat you don’t need one. That’ll save some money. This is where the cost of keeping a cat who goes outdoors is cheaper than the cost of keeping a cat indoors full-time. You don’t need cat litter. Cat litter is quite expensive. You don’t need a litter box or a litter scoop. That is saving money.
This brings to mind, by the way, how you might select a place to live. When you buy a home, if you have the money to buy a home, and if you have a cat at that time, the home should be selected with your cat in mind. You don’t buy the home for your cat. You buy the home for yourself and your cat. But if it can be in an area which is fairly cat safe then letting them outside isn’t such a bad thing.
You can’t avoid buying a cat carrier at about $40 or the equivalent sum in pounds in the UK. And you can’t avoid buying food and water bowls but their cost is fairly minimal. You don’t really need cat nail clippers if your cat goes outside because they wear down naturally. Indoor cats really need their nails clipped. So, you need to buy some specialist cat nail clippers.
The best thing is to train your cat is a kitten to accept having their nails clipped. Otherwise, it can be quite problematic as I am sure you all realise.
Buying a cat bed is definitely optional. They can be useful and cats can love them but my experience tells me that cats don’t always like to use the things you buy for them. You buy them the best possible cat bed and they use it may be twice and then ignore it. You might consider not buying one in the first place.
Cat trees I would argue are not optional. They are mandatory because a domestic cat needs a vertical space. This is an inborn necessity for a domestic cat. The need to go upwards and perch themselves at the top where they feel safe and reassured. And that is where they might sleep and often will sleep so if you do buy a bed it goes on top of the cat tree.
The vets say that you need to give a booster jab annually or every three years depending upon the risks. A cat that meets other cats outside should receive the vaccination booster jab every year they say. A cat living a less risky lifestyle such as full-indoors needs a three yearly booster according to VCA Hospitals. Inoculations are a proactive step to prevent disease and therefore save money on a purely financial basis. They of course also improve your cat’s quality of life. Vaccinations and boosters can’t really be avoided. Although, if you live in an area where all the cats are vaccinated you create a bubble where certain contagious diseases don’t exist and therefore on a selfish level you don’t need to vaccinate your cat.
RELATED: Waggle – A resource to help pay for emergency pet care.
Teeth cleaning is one of those tricky subjects. It seems to me that at some stage during a domestic cat’s life they need to have their teeth cleaned professionally at a veterinary clinic. This is going to be fairly expensive and there is a risk to your cat’s health because anaesthetics carry risk. But you need to factor in at least one teeth cleaning session at about $300 in the USA.
Although I was very cynical about dry cat food professing to be good at cleaning teeth, the very large pellets of Hills Dental Care, I think, does do some good in preventing gum disease and tooth decay. I would recommend it. It is much more expensive than the cheap dry cat food but once again it is a proactive step.
Taking your cat to your veterinarian for a routine checkup, I think, is unnecessary unless there something obviously wrong. An observant and moderately educated individual should be able to keep an eye on their cat and know when they need to take their cat to the veterinarian for a checkup. So, I don’t think you should factor in an annual all biannual checkup. This will save costs.
As for parasite treatments for fleas, ticks, worms and mites, this feeds back to a cat’s lifestyle. For example, if your home is well ordered and clean and there are no carpets and there are no other cats it’s unlikely your cat will get a bad flea infestation. They might pick up one or two fleas which you can remove with a flea comb. Daily or twice daily fee combing can keep fleas down and eliminate them. This is about the human lifestyle and how humans keep their home. Deworming is a requirement if a cat goes out because they will catch mice and get worms from these rodents. But you can buy deworming pills online these days. It just depends whether you can actually get it inside your cat because they are notoriously bad at receiving bills. You might need to rely upon your vet to administer it.
Ear mites need to be watched out for because they are very distressing to a cat. Once again keeping your home clean and tidy I believe helps to minimise the chances of your cat acquiring these sorts of parasites. It’s proactive steps again. You want to minimise veterinary trips.
As for emergency medical expenses, once again, it’s about proactive measures. Keeping your cat indoors will help prevent them living in an area where there is little traffic will also help prevent an injury.
A lot of plants are toxic to cats. You should either look up the list of those plants that are toxic to cats and don’t keep them in your home or don’t keep plants in your home! I don’t have plant in my home. That’s a personal choice and it won’t suit everybody. Related: House Plants Safe For Cats
Personally, I don’t believe in insurance. I do believe in creating your own insurance policy. What I mean is you put away a certain sum of money every month and that accrued pot of money is your pet insurance policy. If and when a big expense comes along you draw on it. In this way you avoid paying the administration costs of the pet insurance company. It is more efficient. And, in any case, insurance companies are notoriously poor at paying out. They find excuses why they shouldn’t. I don’t like them personally.
I believe in buying high quality cat food. I don’t think you should skimp on food because good quality food will help keep your cat healthy. There is a wide variety and one website says that you can spend between $90 and $2500 annually (something similar in pounds in the UK would apply). You can spend $0.25 on cheap grocery-bought kibble for your cat and provide that as their sole food all their lives but that would be a big mistake. I am sure that a lot of people do this. They shouldn’t in my opinion. Cheap dry cat food and nothing else is liable to cause health issues because it is unnatural, too high in carbohydrates and cats don’t drink enough water to compensate for the loss of water in the food. Once again the idea of proactive cat caregiving comes to mind: the expense of good quality food is rewarded in lower overall costs in the long term probably.
You can spend an endless amount of money on cat toys which your cat might enjoy for a while and then ignore. Most cat toys are made of artificial materials such as plastic. They can’t be destroyed. Cats like to destroy the toy as it mimics killing prey animals. Home-made cat toys are just as good as the commercial variety. Dragging a piece of string along the ground or chucking a scrunched-up ball of paper along the floor does the trick.
There is one toy which I like, however, which is a catnip impregnated toy of some sort. They are quite cheap and your cat will enjoy it.
You don’t have to spend good money to be a good cat caregiver. The best way to save money is to really love your cat, be close to your cat, watch your cat, be observant about their health, be concerned and take steps to prevent untoward accidents.
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