Monday, January 09, 2006

Keeping a Lid on Pet Expenses

There were quite a few blog posts last year bemoaning the cost of pets. While I believe finances should be a part of any decision to own a pet, clearly there are many happy pet-owners out there who think it's well worth the cost (including several personal finance bloggers).

We "own" two cats (you know the story...they actually own us) and our costs run an average of $100 a month. Our older cat is 15 years old and he is pretty healthy and spry for his age, but his kidneys and liver just ain't what they used to be requiring special food and frequent vet visits. But $1200 a year seems like a small price to pay given what we feel our pets give back.

We do not scrimp on healthcare for our cats, but we do find other ways to save. And our vet even instituted a money saving practice that really lowered our monthly cost about a year ago. Our older cat needs twice weekly fluids to assist his kidneys in flushing his system. This used to cost us $9 a visit and included the cost of the saline solution and the administration. This alone was close to $80 a month and we paid it because I just couldn't bear to figure out how to do this at home (call me wimpy, but I DID try to get trained by the vet tech but I thought I was gonna hurl).

A while ago the vet instituted a new pricing method...we now buy our own bag of the solution for $10 which lasts about 5 visits. We then pay a fluid administration fee of $5 each time. This nets us a savings of $2 a visit which doesn't sound like much, but accounted for probably about $200 in savings last year!

If you are paying for frequent fluids for your cat (this can be pretty common in older cats) ask your vet if they have anything similar or are willing to institute it. It saved us a bundle. Of course you can save EVEN more by administering the fluids at home!

We use Feline Pine for our cats and they often run $5 rebate promotions. They require the promotional sticker, two UPCs and original receipts for two bags. When they run the promotion, LaLa collects the stickers. After each bag of litter is empty, she cuts out the UPC and saves that near the stickers. The trickier bit is to hang onto receipts and we could probably be better about it...but whenever we have a full set, LaLa sends off for the rebate. This practice nets us probably $30-$35 a year (Feline Pine is about $7-8 a bag in our area) and could bring in more if we were better with the receipt part.

Cozy Places to Sleep
Everyone knows small (well ALL really) animals love a cozy place to sleep. And we all spend money getting little fleece lined beds and pillows filled with cedar chips or whatever. We *do* have one of those fleece window shelves that I bought a long time ago (its a fave in warm weather) but we recently created two minimal cost cat beds (our cats made us do it).

Last winter we used to find our younger cat curled up in LaLa's down jacket all the time (we don't really have a coat rack...but then LaLa kept leaving it fluffed up on chairs on for the cat. sigh) This became inconvenient so LaLa asked her mother to send us an old down jacket that no one had used in years (Mom lives in she really didnt need it) and the first "boo bed" was born. Behold the nearly free down pet bed:

down boo-bed

We keep it on the floor in the office which is where we spend most of our time. Of course it has to be aligned for maximum solar exposure.

And then, of course, there was the time (was that a whole year ago?!?!) when we cleaned out our files and did a massive shred-fest. We had a trashbag with shredded papers in our office, waiting for trash day, and we kept finding little miss tubbybuttons (not her real name) asleep on it so we made a permanent version. We use a kitchen size garbage bag and I swear LaLa fluffs it when I am not looking. I know she also adds some shreddies when it starts looking flattened out. It even holds TWO cats:

shreddie boo-bed

This works well until, of course, there is a territory squabble of some sort and you find a puddle of cat pee in the middle and have to start all over. But it IS free.

Maybe this post was just an excuse to brag about our clever shreddie bed (you know you want one!) but maybe there's a nugget in here somewhere to help you think about ways to save.


  1. A black and white tom cat owns me as well and I love Feline Pine because I noticed that it "lasts" abit longer than the other brands. It does a pretty good job at masking the urine smell compared to other brands such as Johnny Cat.

    I go through bags of food for Poe, my cat, very fast because I have the food cup filled at all times...and Poe eats constantly. He's not fat (although people tell me that he is big-boned). Do you ration out meals for your cats (ex. fill the cup once in the morning and once in the evening)?

    Odd question, I know, but just wondering.

  2. I think if he's not fat, then whatever you're doing is fine :)

    We used to not really pay attention to amount, but for convenience factor we'd fill the kibble bowl in the morning and evening. We used to set out a can (prescription) at the same time but they started leaving a lot of it so we do half a can morning and evening.

    What is odd is that our older cat (the orange one) used to be a little portly and he is dropping in weight (though, healthily the vet says) and the younger cat boo used to be so tiny in comparison and she is really tubbing up.

    I think she's basically eating too much, while the other cat is fine.

    So we have begun to pay attention to the amount of dry (she really puts it on when we go on vacation so we think the cat sitters might be a little generous?)

    Long way of saying if the vet doesn't have a problem with the weight of your cat, you're doing fine ;)

  3. caitlin, caitlin, caitlin. you make me sound like such an indulgent cat-owner. and perhaps i am... because little miss tubbybuttons has standards, you know :)

  4. Henry is our "man" of the house.

    By the way, I shred everything! What a great idea. I know what Henry is getting for his birthday this year.


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