Let’s face it: The majority of us are feeling the financial pinch these days. One expense most of us are not willing to significantly cut corners on, however, is pet care. According to experts, it’s typical for cat owners to spend between $500 to $1,000 yearly per cat.
The expenses of the first year of ownership can be considerably higher. For starters, you should consider adopting a cat from your local animal shelter instead of purchasing one from a pet store or breeder. Shelter pets are significantly less expensive, and you are probably saving an animal’s life in the process. Additionally, the shelter’s modest adoption fee usually ensures that your new pet has already been neutered and vaccinated. The same services could cost hundreds of dollars at your veterinarian’s office.
So what else can a caring — yet thrifty — cat owner to do? Are there ways to save some pennies while still giving our cat all that she needs and deserves? Actually, there are a number of simple things you can do.
First, learn what is normal for your cat on a physical and behavioral level. Noticing subtle changes immediately — and seeking veterinary consultation — is a major step in the prevention of bigger health concerns (and the larger bills involved). Delays in veterinary care often do result in expensive procedures and even hospitalization.
Maintaining regular wellness checks can go a long way toward this goal, as well as tailoring your cat’s vaccination schedule according to his particular needs.
You can invest in quality nail clippers, brushes and shampoos and learn how to groom, bathe and trim your cat’s nails yourself. You can also learn how to administer tick and flea preventive, if necessary (just be sure to discuss appropriate products with your veterinarian first, however).
You should cat-proof your home, including regularly checking window screens, balconies and other ways your cat can fall or escape. And it’s wise to be savvy about the plants you choose to keep around (see page 14 for information on cat-safe plants).
Before you spend your hard-earned money on costly cat toys, look around your home first. Many common household items hold great appeal to the average cat —including paper bags, cardboard boxes, cotton swabs and bottle caps. And what about the toys you’ve already purchased that your cat doesn’t like? Why not consider a “toy swap” with your other cat-owning friends. While you’re at it, you can include other items that don’t suit your cat (such as brands of food, or litter she doesn’t like).
The one thing you don’t have to cut back on, however, is the quality time you spend with your animal friend. Creating a regular playtime and bonding session will go a long way toward enhancing your cat’s life — and yours too. And this won’t cost you a dime.
Elizabeth Vecsi, Executive Editor