Update: This guide, and others for the cat Owner, has been moved to my new blog: Cats Rule (Since the Egyptians, They Have Not Forgot!) - Happy Cats, Happy People.
Please Access My About Me Page for Links to the Blogs.
I have a sign:
This House is Maintained ENTIRELY For The COMFORT and CONVENIENCE of our CATS! Otherwise noted, what can you expect to spend on your kitty/kitties per month? Proper planning WILL allow you your life style, and a better life style for your furry companions.
While my local Humane Society used to have some tips up on this subject, they seem to have taken many down, probably due to cost (its our economy guys). So I will relay a few tidbits on how to live within ones means, and still maintain a household (3) of healthy pets.
Cat Proofing the Home:
Well, the obvious is to get anything that can be chewed (electric cord ends, etc), broken (those collectibles should go UP ON THE MANTLE - preferably not large enough for a cat to jump on), and scratched (many tricks here), prepared for the cat. Obviously, hiding the cords and moving the breakables is the easiest. Scratching - on the other hand, consider a different pet if your leather designer sofa is more important than the cat.
That being said, 2-sided sticky tape on edges does a wonderful job. Have scratching supplies and catnip handy (carpet stands, cardboard scratchers, it doesn't matter - cats need to scratch! Its how they keep their claws trimmed). For cleanup and deodorizing, I have White Vinegar (at least 5% acidic), and baking soda. Take a quart squirt bottle, fill half with White Vinegar, and half with water, you are good to go. Makes an excellent household cleaner. Sprinkle Baking Soda on carpets, furniture, litter, etc. for odor removal (some tough jobs may need repetition with the Vinegar/Baking Soda treatment - but hang in there!) Additional cleaning can be handled with another Quart spray bottle with some dish soap (liquid) and more water than soap. Note, these methods fall into the CLEAN GREEN category, save you TONS OF MONEY on cleaners, and are non-toxic to your pet.
Supplies for Your Cat(s):
Carriers. Anything goes here. Hard sided is recommended. However, if its just a trip to the vet, the sturdy cardboard one will do fine. You can go out of your way with the plush designer purse looks, but kitty doesn't really care. Prices can range from $7 to over $50. In case of emergencies, its a good idea to have a carrier for each cat. I'll add cat leashes here too. While I don't need the leash, some folks have kitties trained appropriately. If that is your predilection, then by all means, go for it.
Cat Beds. My 14 year old is snotty and cranky (comes with age). So she has a stand all her own on an old TV case. She uses the back to scratch with. I used a large milk carton crate, and fill it with soft cloths (blankets, soft sheets covered by pillow cases, etc). The reason for this is that she sheds, and also if something gets messy, just grab and put in washing machine, replace with new blanket. My two fellas don't need beds. Jimmy likes my computer chair, and Siberia sleeps with me (So everyone is within about 7 feet of mom's bed). Cats would rather be closer to their owners when they sleep - so I personally don't see the need to purchase cat beds. Cost of beds - my side $0.
Litter Pans and litter. I have at least 2 for three cats. I prefer the non-scented clumping litter (definitely stay away from the crystals, tried it once, did seem to hurt kitties paws). There are many products on the market, I've found the Pine doesn't work for me, nor the corn type (plus the corn can get other bugs in it, yuck). Some (and I have since changed to this way of thinking), suggest taking the hoods off covered litter pans. That's because cleaning becomes much more of a hassle, and the kitty can end up peeing right back on himself. You will want something under the litter box, stay away from the PRONGED (spokes sticking up) litter steppers. These also hurt paws. I use a pooper scooper, and saved plastic shopping bags for cleaning boxes. I use Integrity Clumping litter. Average cost for 2 litter boxes - $20. Scoop - $3. Litter - about $14 per month.
Food and Water Bowls: IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE, REGARDING MELAMINE IN PLASTIC!!! Remember the Pet Food recalls? Had I only knew before what I know now. NO NO NO to plastic feed and water dishes. I have 2 stainless steel bowls purchased for pets to use as water dishes. Otherwise, people plates and bowls are perfectly acceptable for feeding cats. Lots of money saved here (unless you plan on those designer ceramic pet bowls, that's up to you), Also, no storage in plastic bowls. For canned food, the most time in storage is for the second meal (1/2 can). For that, I do use a plastic cover for the can (I use 12.5 to 13.2 oz cans), and place in fridge right after opened. Lids can be purchased at your local Pet Food Supplier for about $1.50 to $2.00.
Cat Food and Treats: I will devote another article to cat food. Let us just say that I can run a monthly bill of $120 or more on cat food. However, the benefits save on Vet Bills 100 TIMES OVER. Cats are obligate carnivores, and their natural digestive system requires a great deal of wet food. Due to the past, and perhaps possible emergencies coming up, you may wish to maintain some kibble in the cats diet (a Good Grain Free kibble is recommended for extra protein, though my 14 year old gets some kibble with grains - for fiber). Premium cat food IS NOT Nutro, Iams, nor Royal Canin. The brands I am using right now are Wellness Grain Free for Canned, Before Grain Chicken Dry Food, and Eagle Pack Holistic Chicken and Rice dry food. Rotation is important, so I may change kibble varieties occasionally. Don't skimp on the food bill, it saves TONS on the Vet Bill.
Comb and Cleaning Supplies: I have a flea comb given to me by a vet. It’s the best comb I've used. For that occasional cat bath, I just wet down a dishtowel, and wipe kitty away. They really like to be dried with another towel when done. Price? $0.
Toys: Unfortunately, too many recalls concerning lead has come from pet toys since they are introduced from China. I make my own pet toys. That will be the subject of another guide. Cost? Just that of Catnip.
A Note on Vets and Cats
I happen to live across the street from Value Pet Clinic (used to be Pets for Less). A yearly exam should run from $110 (includes blood work and urinalysis for my 14 yr) to $130/$140. Annual blood work and urinalysis, plus check up can ward off a lot of things. Google the internet for the OVER-vaccination of pets. Mine don't get any, since they are indoor cats, and any newbies get examined and vaccinated prior to arrival/introduction.
You will want to set up a fund for emergencies too. The pros and cons of pet Insurance - You hope they will be there when you need it, they hope you won't need it. I've looked at the premiums, AND the coverage, deductible. I set $40 a month aside for Vet bills in my Savings Account (I'll earn my own interest thank you). And if you feel the need to dip a little with no vet emergencies in awhile - only dip for that unexpected heating bill, etc. Saving for your own emergencies (though I'd hate to see the drop in my bank), is a lot better than having preclusions, expensive plans and pre-existing condition clauses.
The opinions in this guide belong to me exclusively. I'm just hoping to show one can live a quality life with pets, and still afford the extras.
I hope you have enjoyed this guide. Please feel free to VOTE YES if it is Helpful for your situation. ;-)