We recently added a new member to our family. No, not another baby (bite your tongue), a fur baby. Maurizio (Mitzi for short) was rescued along with his four siblings after his mother gave birth to them in a storm drain. We found him at a local shelter where the kids instantly bonded with him and his loving, playful attitude.
But falling in love with a cat is just the first step. And the next steps involve money, honey. But there are a few ways to spend a little less.
Have a plan & Make a budget
Knowing what you are getting into is the first step to budgeting. Because when you budget, you can set the money aside beforehand so you don’t get blindsided by lots of free-for-all spending that can tank your household expenses.
1- Adoption fees
If you get your pet at a shelter (which I hope you do) there will be an adoption fee. These can range anywhere from $30 to $100. The best way to know is to contact the shelter before you go. That way you can decide whether it is a good time to spend that money or whether you need to wait. Because believe me, once you walk into a shelter and you see those sweet little eyes looking up at you.. whether you are prepared to spend the money or not, you will be walking out of there with a cat.
Keep your eyes open for promotions that can significantly lower the adoption fees. Shelters may offer discounted fees after an influx of new animals or around holidays.
Make sure you know what is included in the adoption fee so you don’t end up paying more for additional services. Preferably, the adoption fee will include spaying/neutering, vaccines and microchipping.
2- Vet visits and continued care
You’ll want to take the cat to a vet to get it checked out within the first 10 days. Be sure to take along all the paperwork the shelter gave you which lists all the procedures and shots the cat has already had.
Vists- The average cost of a general vet visit for a cat is around $50. According to WebMD, cats should get checked out by a vet every six months to a year and visits for “vaccines for other diseases can vary from annually to every three years.” And those will all come with additional costs.
Shots- “Most pets require 2-4 booster [shots] each year. The average cost for booster shots ranges between $18-$25,” according to PetCareRX.
Tests- Also according to PetCareRX, heartworm tests generally cost around $50 and fecal exams (“performed to identify gastrointestinal parasites… an important test included more in annual check-ups in recent years”) can range from $25-$45. Visit this link for more tests your pet might need and their average costs.
The best bet is to talk to your vet at the first visit to get an idea of their prices and how often you will need to pay. Ask them for promotion packages. For example, our vet offers a $100 yearly package which includes exam, rabies and distemper vaccines.
And if you need one, don’t be afraid to ask if they have a payment plan.
3- Recurring supplies
From now on, you have another mouth to feed in your household. Fortunately, they’re cheaper than people. But be sure to add cat food and litter to your grocery shopping list going forward.
Space out your supply spending
It may seem daunting, but keep in mind, you don’t need to buy all the supplies at one time. I suggest spacing them out, starting with necessities first, then adding in all the other stuff when your budget allows.
1- Upfront necessities
And litter and food, obvi, as mentioned above
2- Stuff to get sooner than later
Tree/scratching post –This may not seem important, it didn’t to me at first. But if you don’t give those eager little claws something to scratch on, they will find something to use. And it will be your furniture.
Brush –Because hairballs are gross
3- Things that will be nice to have down the road
Cute food bowls
Bed -I put this here because come on, cats are going to find their own sleeping spot anyway. And it’s usually your dining room table or your head.
Consider secondhand supplies
Just think about it, people spend tons of money on their pets. Nearly $67 Billion last year alone, according to the American Pet Products Association. And some of that giant haul is going to make its way back on sale either by the owners or at thrift stores. And they’ll be at big-time discounts off original prices (which are high).
Some great places to get secondhand pet supplies like the ones listed above are:
Private thrift stores
Kittens are little balls of energy and unless you want them using that energy on your shoes, furniture and everything else around your house, you might want to throw them some toys. And your kids will have a blast too.
But you don’t need to spend a lot of money on toys. In fact, all you really need to spend is a few dollars on some catnip and put it in toys you can make with things found around your house.
Check out this post for cheap, easy and fun DIY upcycled cat toys.