My wife, my son, and I have two cats. The first one we acquired is Bill (short for Belinda, because Bill is a female cat):
The second cat we acquired is named Fancy:
A bit of background: I grew up in a household where my father was highly allergic to cats and thus had an innate dislike for them. I am slightly allergic to them as well. When my wife found Bill abandoned several years ago, I was very apprehensive about keeping the cat, but I went ahead with it. After seeing Bill’s extremely high-strung personality, I didn’t really want another cat, but then my wife brought Fancy home one day and we kept her as well. I’m still not particularly close to them, but I do participate in caring for them and you can catch me on occasion petting them. My son, on the other hand, adores Fancy and often tries to pet/hug/tackle her. Unbelievably, Fancy takes this toddler abuse without a hiss or a whimper.
Anyway, one major expense in our lives is simply providing upkeep for the cats. There are so many expenses, big and little, that come from maintenance of an indoor pet. Since we’re learning to become more frugal, here are five techniques we’ve adopted that have not only saved us money, but have seemingly improved the quality of life of the cats. These techniques all work for dogs as well!
Instead of feeding them costly cat food from the store, we try to match the contents of that food with fresh material we’ve prepared ourselves. For example, if we have leftover rice and chicken, I’ll blend it up and feed it to the cats. They love it and it has to be better for them than that dry, preservative-laden mass produced junk at the store.
Use an old, beat up brush as a hair groomer. We often comb the cats with an old hairbrush to reduce their shedding and also cut down on hairballs. This saves us on buying special things to clean the cat with, as well as additional cleanup costs.
Make your own collar and ID tag. Use a piece of string, custom fit it to the cat, and “hand-laminate” a tag to fit on it. A hand-laminated tag is simply one that is hand-written and covered in several layers of tape. This method is actually better for the cat because you can fit the makeshift collar to your cat perfectly.
Use scoopable clumping litter and baking soda to extend its life. Use your cat’s cues to tell you how often to scoop your litter and also when it’s time to change the litter. Your cat knows what’s right more than the directions on the box, which are there to minimize the time that your litter will last. Even better, adding a bit of baking soda when you first change the litter (and maybe a bit more here and there) will reduce potential unpleasant odors.
Build your cat a “home” out of an old box and leftover clothes. Both of our cats like having a “home” to sit in, as do most cats; it gives them a cetral place of security. While our cats are lucky to have a cat tower that they both dearly love, a close friend of ours made a “home” for her cat out of a sturdy old cardboard box lined with layers of old, beat up clothing (mostly just old tee shirts that were headed for the trash).
These techniques not only provide better care than the “normal” way, they save substantial money as well.