Confession time: I am a cat owner living on a very limited budget. In fact, with my budget, I have trouble making ends meet. As much as I love my cats and I want to give them the world, I have to work within my means. Still, I believe that you can be an excellent, responsible cat owner on a shoe string budget.

Cat Ownership on a Budget Tip #1: Consider the long term cost

Cat Ownership on a Budget Cinco and Manna Eating

Manna and Cinco having a meal together

Just because a product or service has a low upfront cost, doesn’t mean that it won’t cost more in the long run. Doing a little research on the products or services to find out what kinds of future consequences they might have is very helpful. Sometimes spending a little more upfront can save you a bundle. Here are a couple of potentially budget breaking examples:

Flea and tick preventatives.

You might think that you are going to save a few dollars by purchasing an over-the-counter remedy, but this is often not the case. Many over the counter remedies are not very effective causing you to purchase them over and over. There have also been problems with over-the-counter remedies making animals very sick. It is worth the extra money to go to the veterinarian and get the product they recommend for your cat. The vet bills and emotional toll of dealing with a sick pet will be far more expensive.

Cat food.

While you don’t have to buy the most expensive thing on the shelf, getting the best cat food you can is important. Veterinarian bills pile up a lot faster than grocery bills do. Getting away from dry foods will save you on expensive kidney and bladder problems later on (read my story here) as well as Feline Diabetes. Finding a food that has higher quality meats and proteins with less carbohydrates will save you money on health problems down the line and litter. That’s right, litter! Cats can’t digest carbohydrates, so naturally they move through the system and come out in the cat’s feces. Cats who eat less carbs tend to have smaller poop because their bodies can absorb more of the food.

 Cat Ownership on a Budget Tip #2: Try a little DIY

If you can’t afford to buy it, try making it yourself. There are a lot of simple DIY projects that work great for cats. Only purchase cat toys from the store when it really fits into your budget. Cats love simple toys like milk rings, cut up toilet paper tubes, boxes, paper bags, ribbons (interactive play only), and plastic straws. Fancier toys can be made too if you are a skilled crafter. Just remember that your quality time with your cat means more than any toy you could give them.

There are a few non-toy DIY’s you could try also. Need some cat nip? This is actually a fairly small plant (like mint) that you can grow inside your home easily. Just purchase a cat nip plant or some seeds and have a renewable supply of nip for your cats. Cat scratchers can be made out of scrap wood and sisle rope. According to Dr. Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, you can even make your own partially raw cat food for about the same price as you would pay for Fancy Feast.

Cat Ownership on a Budget Tip #3: Be honest with your veterinarian

Cat Ownership on a Budget Manna and the catnip

Manna standing guard over our new catnip plant.

When you make your visits to the veterinarian, let them know what your budget will allow. Let them know that you really can only afford to get done what really needs to be done. I have been told by a veterinarian before that sometimes they will prescribe a medication for a pet just because they feel the owner expects that. Why purchase a medication that your cat doesn’t actually need to get better? Also, talk to your veterinarian about letting you order your medications from an online store, like 1-800-PetMeds, if the prices are better.

Consider that preventative treatment is more cost effective than trying to fight an illness that has taken hold. However, do your own research on different vaccines and preventative treatments to see how effective and necessary they are for your cat. Talk to your veterinarian about your findings and work out a plan for prevention.

 What tips do you have for cat owners on a shoe string budget?