It's becoming harder and harder to be able to have extra pets these days. Vet bills are going up, food prices are going up, everything is going up....I thought I'd write an article today about how to cut some costs when taking care of animals. I'm a huge sucker for anything abandoned. I went to the animal shelter back in the Spring to look for a puppy and came out with a new cat, I couldn't help it, she gave me beggy eyes! Needless to say, my husband said I'm no longer allowed at the Animal Shelter. A few months after that I took in 4 abandoned 2 week old kittens. I just couldn't find it in my heart to leave them. They took feeding every 3 hours, even through the night. I did manage to give away a few but when you are that close to an animal its hard to let them go.
So anyways now we have a total of 4 cats(2 inside, 2 outside) and one almost year old dog. I'd like to say that that's all we will have for now but I know that's not true. I'm just too big of a sucker! So with all those animals its gets expensive to feed and vaccinate and spay them. Here's what we do to take care of them.
My husband built both our dog and cat houses. The dog house he made out of cheap plywood. We are going to paint the outside for now and someday put on steel siding so it matches the house. Inside we put straw. This is a cheap way to keep the dog warm and plus it's something she can't chew up!
The cat house is also made of plywood and other scrap wood. The cost for both houses was about $50. I know you can buy pre-made houses but we built these to fit our needs. With the cat house my husband made it into a jungle gym for the cats plus we can keep their food in the bottom part so the neighbors dog doesn't come over and eat it. We can also lock them inside if we would need to. The cats love their house! They've gotten so lazy since we built it that I haven't seen any dead mice laying on my doorstep for a while..... Inside the cat house we put an old rag rug for them to lay on. Since there are 2 they like to snuggle to stay warm so I'm not too worried.
I don't have too many tips for buying cheap pet food. I know there are good deals to be had on it sometimes. We used to buy just the cheapest kind for the cats but that made them sick so we spend a little more on it now. We usually buy cat food from Target since they tend to have the most sales on it and we buy dog food at Menards because it's cheapest there and the dog is not picky on what she eats.
I also thought I'd share this recipe. When I got the baby kittens to take care of they were only 2 weeks old and kittens need to be fed milk until about 6 - 8 weeks. I searched and searched for a milk replacer recipe(it is VERY expensive at the store especially when you are trying to feed 4 kittens!) Here's what I finally came up with. I know the recipe sounds odd but kittens need alot of fat and protein when they are growing. I'm happy to say I didn't have much problem with feeding them this mixture and they all made it and were very healthy fat babies. I got tiny bottles at the local farm store, the ones at Walmart were way too flimsy and fell apart.
12 oz. cold water
1 envelope Knox Gelatin
12 oz. whole evaporated milk
2 T. mayo
2 T. whole yogurt
Boil the warm, stir in the gelatin. Add 1/2 the milk then the mayo and yogurt and then the rest of the milk. Mix well. This sets up like a white jello and should be stored in the fridge. Feed it to the babies at room temperature. As the kittens grew older I started putting this in a bowl for them and when they got used to that I mixed it with pureed meat and eventually switched them to dry food. If you want more advice on this process just email me and I'll be happy to answer your questions. It's a long ordeal but very worth it in the end.
*Do not feed to older cats
I haven't boughten treats in a very long time. Well, I've boughten them but I didn't pay anything for them. I usually get cat and dog treats during the Kmart doubles and I stock up on what I can. My cats actually love the variety of treats they get. When I run out of store bought treats I have 2 great recipes for treats for the animals.
1 3/4 c. WW Flour
1 1/4 c. oatmeal
1 1/2 T vegetable oil
1 c. warm water
Add in options 1/3 c. grated cheese or 1/4 c. peanut butter
Mix all ingredients together. Roll into a roll and chill for 1 hour. Slice roll into 1/4 in. slices and bake on a lightly greased cooking sheet at 300F for 50 minutes or until done.
1 1/2 c. oats
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. white flour
1/2 c. tuna oil/chicken broth/or beef bouillon
Mix all ingredients together. Small into small 1/2 in. thick biscuits. Bake on a greased cooking sheet for 30 minutes or until browned.
I've been lucky enough to find a vet that's close to our house and that provides very cheap services. Call around before you pick a vet, ask about prices. Also, its worth going to a vet even if they charge a little more than someone else if they give you the service and care that you deserve. Early shots for cats are available at local farm and ranch stores for very cheap. You can order other meds from websites such as Pet Meds(link on the side of the page) for different illness' such as worms. I think one of the biggest cost savers with animals is to have them spayed. Think of all the extra expenses you would have with 5 extra cats running around rather than just paying $100 and fixing them now. It's definitely worth it in my book.
Another way to get cheap spaying/fixing is to call your local animal shelter. They usually will do this for you and base it off your income so the cost can be minimal.
I'm such an animal lover I always believe that having pets is worth the cost. I am glad, though, for the things I can do to save money with them as well. Do you have any money saving tips for taking care of animals? Put them in the comments section below or email me, we'd love to know!
*Picture above is my parents family dog with one of their cats. We had the dog for about 12 years and she passed away this week, she will be missed.