Friday, 19 July 2019

Can you afford a cat?

hi I wonder if i could ask a favour ? we are looking into getting a cat from a rehoming place and i wondered if you could do a blog post on frugal cat ownership for example is insurance worth it sort of tips as i know you are an experienced owner...your lovely readers might be able to chip in...i know your a busy lady thankyou Tessa

Hello. Tessa asks a question about frugal cat ownership. I'll jot a few notes down, and if anyone else has any frugal tips, please feel free to add your comments.

I am assuming you have already discussed this new addition with other family members, and the adoption might go ahead. The best place to get a cat is from a rescue/rehoming centre. You will have another mouth to feed so there is food to buy. Cats are fussy eaters, I have three and they all eat differently. I have dry food out 24/7 so they can graze when they like. Water next to it. I look for out of date cat food at the market, if I find it cheap I buy several bags at a time. At the moment they eat Whiskas dry and Perfect Fit dry. What I can't find in the market I get from the discount stores and look for offers. Home Bargains, B & M, Poundstretcher etc. It doesn't matter if they go off the dry food that you get, it can be put away for a while and brought out at a later date, in the hope that they might start eating it again.

Wilko's are generally more expensive except if they have an offer on. Supermarkets are expensive as well, unless on offer. I would never buy cat food from a small local shop, or small Co op, or any of the smaller convenience stores. Too expensive.

Wet food. The cheapest way is probably buy it in tins, but if you only have one cat the food will go off before you get to the bottom of the tin and you end up throwing it away. I don't buy tins for that reason. Pouches are more convenient, though not good for the environment. My cats won't touch the cheap own label pouches. Some cats will, though in the beginning it's trial and error.

Try your cat on the cheaper food first, all well and good if it eats it, but you might have to go up a level and get something better. There is a bit of snobbery around cat food, some people will only buy the most expensive. If you do that be prepared to pay more. My new boy Oscar is getting picky, he is turning away from Whiskas and Felix. I feed mine indoors so he has to come in for it. He sometimes sniffs at it and walks straight back outside again. He will do this several times until the food has gone off and I bring something else out. Sometimes I don't offer an alternative so if he is hungry he has to eat what is there.

Vet fees are expensive. Ask around for recommendations from friends. Some people routinely get their pets inoculated, I don't. I might have been lucky with the cats I have had but they rarely show signs of illness. Except of course Heidi, but her problem is under control and thankfully the tablets are not expensive.

The rescue should have neutered the cat you are getting. It will need flea treatment, again I don't do that routinely. It depends if your cat is going to roam around the neighbourhood, how likely is it going to come in contact with other cats who may have fleas. Shop bought flea treatment is not much good, the vet will have more up to date stuff. More expensive but it works. I do spot on, on the back of the neck, as and when I think they need it.

Cat litter. I have three trays in the house, in the winter they all get used. In the summer not so much because they spend time outdoors. I prefer the clay based clumping litter and get the cheapest from the supermarket Value or Basics range. I scoop out the poops, and scrape the clumps of pee stuck on the bottom and add a bit of fresh. Every so often I wash the whole tray outside in the garden and start afresh.

What are you going to do when you go on holiday? Check out cattery prices. If you are going to go down this route have a couple of short overnight stays first and see how the cat copes with it. Or make friends with your neighbour to come in and feed it.

Some people may prefer to take out an insurance to cover vet fees. My Bugsy was insured for 15 years of his 20 year life, I never needed to claim from it. I consider any years after 15 are a bonus, and if an illness is age related you have to make the decision about whether to treat, or not. Then quality of life comes into it. I now have no insurance for my three, I keep enough money aside to pay for any emergency. I know I would have to make a decision if one of mine were involved in an accident with a car. I will cross that bridge when I come to it. Hopefully will never have to. A cat across the road got run over it cost them £2000 for a broken leg. You just have to be aware that it might happen, and have a plan in place in case it does.

My carpets are ruined by cat scratching, all three do it. I have a scratching post but they don't use it. You have to live with a scruffy carpet, or contain your cat to only rooms where they will not do any damage. No need to spend money on fancy toys. Scrunched up balls of paper thrown about will amuse them. Drag a long piece of string along the floor and the cat will chase it. Be careful that you don't leave any string or thread lying about as they tend to chew on it and might swallow it.

That's all I can think of at the moment. If any readers have any more frugal tips for keeping a cat let us know in the comments. Thank you.




26 comments:

  1. My cat only eats Royal Canin products and has a completely dry food diet. A pet shop owner once told me that all tinned cat food is basically water and contains hardly any nutrients. My cat has perfect teeth unlike cats I had in the past who ate 'treats' and a mainly wet food diet. A cat who loves to be outside and got bitten in a fight cost me over £500 to treat a burst abscess. I cried in the vet's when I was told how much it would be to treat. In addition to 'unexpected ' vet bills you will need to have them vaccinated each year otherwise catteries will refuse to take them in if you go on holiday. If I was starting out with a cat now I would take out insurance but check carefully what the insurance covers. Cats will inevitably get fleas at some time so you will need to get the cat treated for fleas and use flea killer/repellant powders and sprays around the home. After considering food, cat litter, vet bills etc I don't think there is a way of frugally keeping a cat unless you are fortunate enough to have a healthy one!

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  2. your a star thankyou xx we are off this pm to collect miriam from the cats protection this afterneoon...thanks again tessa

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  3. My friend recommended buying cat food online and I'm so glad she did. Once I worked out which one suited Mog - not difficult as wet food disagrees with her - I chose some dried food (recommended by the vet) which costs me £26 and lasts for around four to five months.
    Mog has never scratched carpets or furniture, possibly because she spends quite a lot of time outside, and has never been interested in the toys we originally bought her but she does love to play with conkers!
    Aside from her annual vaccination fees and the ocassional cattery stay, her monthly insurance costs me £4.80. My biggest expense has been her cat flap which is chip operated, again purchased online and cost £54. X

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    1. thankyou tessa

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    2. Hi Jules.Mine used to play with conkers,but Ive been told that they can be poisonous to cats and dogs?.Just thought that I would mention it.None of my 5 have ever been interested in the toys Ive bought them either.One of mine found it entertaining to rip the wallpaper off..so I nailed carpet sample to the wall...they werent interested in that either,lol,xx

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    3. Thank you Debi. Mog has no interest in eating them, just batting them across the floor. She's a great cat, we've been very lucky. X

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  4. I have had 5 cats over the years from CPL or similar charities and always paid about £70 for each cat, they call it a donation but suggest the amount. There are none of the cheap shops you quote where I live, so Tesco it is and not much choice at that, dried food and junk in jelly atm until he decides he would rather starve than eat what he has been having for months. I don’t insure and cannot get this one to vet so just hope for the best.

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  5. This is a very good post. Being a cat owner my entire life, I would add that keeping a cat as an indoor-only cat will keep it from getting lost or hurt, getting fleas, (but sometimes if still happens in the south), or catching diseases from other animals or even being poisoned by eating something it shouldn't. I had a cat that lived to be 20 years old. She never went outside, nor do my current two. I also feed them a dry food only diet. I helps keep tartar build up from forming their teeth. Both my cats are on special Hill's prescription formulas. One for kidneys and one is on diet food. It's not cheap but it keeps them healthy.

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  6. One point is, to ensure your insurance is valid check small print, ours have to have their yearly injections as part of the insurance plan, the cost is not covered by the policy. We buy tin food on line, cheapest price as one cat will only eat Felix fish flavours in jelly. The cans are never put in the fridge as same cat won't eat cold food. It's not cheap to keep at cat and we have two.

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  7. Hello Tessa,Well I have got 5 cats and I am lucky that they all eat the same food...after a few expensive buys in the begining!.They all eat Aldi meat pouches,Vitacat,which is £1 89p for 12 pouches.They also eat Aldi pockets which are 59P,sometimes on offer for 55p a pack..I buy 40 packs of these then they are on the cheaper price so that I get a good saving.I also buy the big packs of Purina Go Cat from Home Bargains..These are £3 99p which works out a lot cheaper than buying the smaller packs.I also have a cat flap so they can get in the garden,when we are out.I buy the cheap cat litter but I line my litter trays with newspaper,that the neighbours give me.All my cats are neutered..very important in my opinion!.None of them have had jabs...my last cat didnt and he lived to be nearly 20 years old!.Holidays can be a problem if you havent got any one to look after them,but Im lucky because my mam n sister live near by.I still dont like to go away for more than a couple of days though because I know that they miss me and I worry about them!!.We have got used to this way of having a holiday now!Like Ilona says,there is also flea treatment to buy,but if you get the good stuff it works.The cheap stuff is a waste of money.Yes,I do have to spend quite a bit with having 5,but I buy lots in one go so I only have to do this every couple of months.It is all worth it though,because I love them all to bits!!I hope that Miriam settles in well and I am glad that you have given it some thought.Within a couple of days you will be wondering how you ever lived without her,when she sits on your lap purring away!.Let us all know how she is getting on!,xx

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    1. thankyou xx she is currently a sleep under the side board xx

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  8. Hi we have two cats, one was because my son moved into a flat years ago and they did not allow pets so we took Kitt in, then a year later, thought she might be lonely and got Millie from cats protection, a donation of £50 which we did not mind as CP did the neutering etc. They are now 11 years old and tolerate each other :-) they are indoor cats, we have toys, small scratch posts and two large cat trees (one upstairs in spare bedroom and the other in the corner of living room, bought when on offer from zooplus) and cat beds (igloos) all over the house, which they do use. Both have had teeth out at a cost of £250 each, we have a credit card for that and pay off so much a month, we have insurance at approx £26 month for both. Food, whiskas dry food (buy large bags) felix wet food (buy boxes of 40) and sometimes buy better quality food if on offer. Cat litter, clumping, costs about £4 a week costs more than value ones but easier to clean. Cattery, approx £150 once a year for a week. Vet check once a year - £50 per cat plus flea stuff. But would not be without them, I'm self employed and work from home so they are not left on their own all day, that was what CP were bothered about when they came to do a home check before we had Millie but they could see all the cats toys/trees & beds all over the house, so it was never a problem, hope that helps, Jo

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  9. think i've posted this twice,if i have then delete one...
    Hi we have two cats, one was because my son moved into a flat and they did not allow pets so we took Kitt in, then a year later, thought she might be lonely and got Millie from cats protection, a donation of £50 which we did not mind as CP did the neutering etc. They are now 11 years old and tolerate each other :-) and have always been indoor cats, we have toys, small scratch posts and two large cat trees (one upstairs in spare bedroom and the other in the corner of living room, bought when on offer from zooplus) and cat beds (igloos) all over the house, which they do use. Both have had teeth out at a cost of £200 each, we have a credit card for that and pay off so much a month, we have insurance at approx £26 month for both. Food, whiskas dry food (buy large bags) felix wet food (buy boxes of 40) and sometimes buy better quality food if on offer. Cat litter, clumping, costs about £4 a week costs more than value ones but easier to clean. Cattery, approx £150 once a year for a week. Vet check once a year - £50 per cat plus flea stuff. But would not be without them, I'm self employed and work from home so they are not left on their own all day, that was what CP were bothered about when they came to do a home check before we had Millie but they could see all the cats toys/trees & beds all over the house, so it was never a problem, hope that helps, Jo

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  10. thankyou all we collected miriam she came in had a walk round and fell asleep under the side board which is where she still is....we got a months pet plan insurance from cats protection lague so will look for a good price much appreciate everyones idea xx

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  11. Hi we have two cats from the cat rescue. I took out a pet healthcare plan at the vets. This covers their flea and worm treatments, vacinations etc. I pay monthly by direct debit. I prefer to have this rather than pet insurance which never seems to pay out when you need it. Pets at home also do health care schemes which cover routine care.

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  12. We have 5 cats, all rescue ones and all arrived together 6 years ago. A cruelty case from a house over run with animals. I think it's important for them to be vaccinated every year, I learnt the hard way many years ago when a dearly loved cat caught cat flu and had to be put to sleep. I've regretted it ever since that I didn't have him vaccinated. So the 5 have their yearly vaccinations, I think any owner who doesn't vaccinate is being irresponsible. Also flea/tick treatment, they don't only need to come into contact with other cats to get fleas, if they go outside there's a good chance they'll get them, fleas don't live on the cat but hop on and off, so they can easily be caught just by being outside where another animal may have passed by. They have a good range of different foods, not all food has the recommended nutrients for a cat but that can be found out by reading about it.

    Insurance - we don't have that as my new husband is a veterinarian! (I must admit when we got together I thought ooh lovely - no more vet bills!)

    A final note - cows milk isn't recommended for cats. Ours only have access to water, changed daily, if you really feel you must give milk you can buy special cat milk. Waste of money in my view! they only need water.

    Good luck with your new pet.

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  13. Hi Ilona Mayze Heidi and Oscar - my two rescue cats Amy and Benny eat similarly to your 3 cats. I do buy them some treats occasionally and chicken they are de-fleaded and very well cared for with lots of TLC. They are both well at present although Amy had a fight with another cat and had a sore mouth but shes back to good health again. Have a lovely weekend. Liz Amy and Benny.xxxxx

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  14. Tessa, Ilona and everyone here--we are dog people and have only had a few cats, so I am not an expert in cat care...but I do remember a few things. As someone else mentioned, you may have to have your cat vaccinated for feline distemper (some people call it cat flu) if you wish to board her. Even if you never board her, she could catch it from another cat. This happened to us when I was growing up. Feline distemper is a terrible disease, almost always fatal, besides being highly contagious. So contagious, in fact, that after we had to euthanize a much-loved kitty, we got a kitten a few weeks later and she died of it, too. Apparently, the virus lives on in the house for some length of time and the second kitty caught it just by being in the same house too soon.

    Also, after we lost a male cat to a kidney blockage, which came on very suddenly, we were advised to feed only a certain dry cat food. It's a brand no longer made, so I can't recommend it, plus I'm in the US. It was either high or low in ash--I forget which--but you can ask a vet for recommendations. So many more specialty pet foods are available now. Also, I believe the vet told me that male cats are more susceptible.

    None of our pets--cats or dogs--have been particularly fussy eaters. At my house, you ride the bus or you don't go!

    I never take our dogs to the vet unless they are sick or I have a concern. That's when I update the vaccinations. Then I only have to pay for the shot, since I'm already paying for an office call.

    Oh, one other thing...we measure our dogs' food to be sure we aren't overfeeding them. You can put your pet on a diet simply by cutting the ration a tiny bit every week or so.

    Ilona, thank you for all of the good work you do at the cat rescue!

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  15. Hi! I have two 16yr old cats currently, both rescue. I would not be without them for the years of pure happiness they (and 2 passed away cats) have brought into my life! I try to buy food in bulk for Hector, from Amazon when they have 'star deals'. Savings are around 25% this way and it is delivered.
    For cat litter, I cut up newpapers into tiny squares and fill each tray with that - I change the trays morning and evening. I get the newpapers from neighbours, friends and occasionally from the recycling bins. At moment I can't afford to buy cat litter and this cuts down the dust & smell from shop-bought cat litter.
    My cat Fifi unfortunately has been ill (incl emergency op). Last 4 months have been doing regular vet appts, tablets, eyedrops, prescription cat food. Cost has been approx £2,500 with ongoing medical costs estimate of £130 per month (vet) and prescription food costing 3 times as much as ordinary pouches. Although I faithfully paid insurance for years without claiming, most policies will not cover cats over 16yrs, so I have had to find the funds myself from selling possessions & savings. Be warned!
    When taking out insurance, I always got online reductions (est 20%); also Sainsburys/ Tesco often have loyalty points awards if you go with them; Sainsb current offer is 6000 nectar points with new pet policy.
    Sorry for going on a bit.. last advice is get 2 cats(?!).. they will learn to play together and it gives them companionship when you're out!

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  16. Hi make sure you get the cat vaccinated as we lost a cat to feline enteritus and it's terrible. With our dog we put away money each month to cover any vet bills that are high but also take out insurance. All the best xxx

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