Cutting Costs with Pets – Fluffy and Fido Go Frugal

Being frugal isn’t always easy when you have pets. I should know! I have seven indoor cats and a dog. In addition, I also feed two of the outside neighborhood cats. If I wasn’t careful, I could easily spend a small fortune on pet food, treats, and litter.

When I decided to start using coupons and save money, that decision wasn’t just for the human inhabitants of my house. Pets were included as well. This presented some problems because I didn’t want to lower the quality of their food or deprive them of their special treats. Although I haven’t had to resort to buying cheaper/less quality food, there were other ways in which I was able to cut back on my pet expenses.

  1. Cat treats: With seven cats who expect (okay, demand!) their treats every morning, buying treats got very expensive. Although I was sometimes able to get treats very cheaply or free with coupons, it didn’t happen as often as I needed them. Plus, those small packages don’t go very far, and at more than $1 each it wasn’t a frugal thing to do. As an experiment, I bought a large bag (with coupons, of course) of a Purina Cat Chow to see if my furry friends would find this acceptable as “treats”. To my surprise and delight, they liked it even better than the Pounce! Although I would never feed my cats Purina Cat Chow as their steady diet, I find it is fabulous as treats. It’s sort of like kitty junk food. And at about $1 per pound, it’s extremely frugal.
  2. Cat litter: My friend, Becky, who owns Hidden Treasures Adoption Centerfor Cats, recommends the use of a litter like World’s Best Cat Litter. This is a natural and biodegradable cat litter made from corn that can be actually flushed down the toilet or composted. In addition, it is much healthier for your cat than the clay type litter because it is less dusty; and it clumps, so scooping is easy. However, she freely admits World’s Best Cat Litter is outrageously expensive. Thankfully, Becky has a great substitute for this type of litter. Believe it or not, game bird or chicken feed in the crumbles form is exactly the same as World’s Best Cat Litter. You can find huge 50 lb bags of this at Tractor Supply or feed store for about $14. Because this product is much lighter than your average clay scooping litter, the bag is HUGE and lasts for much longer. I have six litter boxes for my seven cats, and one of these bags lasts a little more than a month.
  3. Dog Treats: My dog isn’t as fussy as the cats when it comes to treats. In fact, she’ll eat almost anything. I have found she especially likes raw carrots, though. I got this trick from my vet when she told me one of my dogs was getting a little porky around the middle. Buying a huge bag of carrots is much more cost effective than buying dog treats, even with coupons. Plus, carrots are much healthier. I still buy regular dog treats on occasion, but I’ve found the bulk package of raw carrots is just fine.
  4. Pet Medications: This is one of the most expensive parts of pet ownership. Heart worm and flea medications alone can be incredibly expensive. The only way to make these things somewhat affordable is going through an online pet medication company and buying in bulk to save on shipping. You get an even better deal by shopping through Shop At Home because you get cash back on your purchase.  Currently, Shop At Homeis offering 16% Cash Back on a purchase at 1-800 Pet Meds.
  5. Adopting a New Pet: If you are looking to add a new member to your household, I strongly urge you to go through the Humane Society or an adoption center like Hidden Treasures . First, there are so many dogs and cats in need of new homes that there really isn’t a good reason to buy a pet from a breeder. Second, adopting through a place like Hidden Treasures is actually very frugal.

Believe it or not, getting a “free” kitten isn’t really free. You have to take it to the vet for shots and to be spayed/neutered. When all is said and done, you’ll spend at least $300 and a bunch of time running back and forth to vet appointments. Conversely, a donation of $120 is expected when you adopt a kitten through Hidden Treasures and the kitten you get is fully vetted. Plus, you aren’t the one who had to run back and forth to the vet! Cats are less expensive to adopt, but again, they are fully vetted and healthy. Furthermore, if anything should go wrong in the future, Hidden Treasures will ALWAYS help with the problem or take the cat/kitten back without question.

I would love to hear from you if you have any tips or tricks of your own for saving money on pet expenses.  Please leave a comment or email me at gina@ginaskokopelli.com.