Do you have pets? Here are some thrifty pet ideas that can help you maintain a frugal lifestyle while raising and caring for your family pets.
Thrifty Pet Ideas for Frugal Living
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 it’s hard to let them go.
With lots of animals, it gets expensive to feed and vaccinate and spay them. Here are some of the ways we’ve saved money with what we do to take care of them.
Side note: This article of pet ideas has garnered a lot of negative comments so if you came here to leave more, I will delete them. If you can’t afford to have pets at all, it’s probably not a good idea to get more, however, if you find yourself in a difficult financial position and you have pets already that need to be cared for, hopefully, these pet ideas will be useful to you.
My husband built both our dog and cat houses. The dog house he made out of cheap plywood with steel siding that was a “leftover” from Menards. Inside we put straw. This is a cheap way to keep the dog warm plus it’s something she can’t chew up!
The cat house is also made of plywood and other scrap wood. The cost of 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 neighbor’s 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.
Inexpensive Pet Food
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 have usually bought cat food from Target since they tend to have the most sales on it and we buy dog food at Menards because of sales.
I also thought I’d share this recipe for homemade kitten formula. 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 thrifty cat food recipe sounds odd but kittens need a lot 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 and fat babies. I got tiny bottles at the local farm store, the ones at Walmart were way too flimsy and fell apart. It’s been 10 years since I came up with this recipe and the cats that I fed it to are still healthy and happy.
Boil the water, 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 bought treats in a very long time. Here are some simple and frugal treats to try out.
Homemade Dog Treats
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup warm water
Add in options 1/3 cup grated cheese or 1/4 cup peanut butter
Mix all the 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.
–Find another frugal dog recipe for homemade dog treats in my book, Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self Sufficient Life.
Homemade Cat Treats
1 1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup tuna oil/chicken broth/or beef broth
Mix all the ingredients together. Roll into small 1/2 inch 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 inexpensive services. Call around before you pick a vet, ask about prices. Also, it’s 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 for different illness’ such as worms.
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 frugal living ideas that I can do to save money with them as well.
Here are some more posts that you might enjoy:
Do you have any money-saving tips for taking care of animals?
This article with Thrifty Pet Ideas was originally published on Little House Living in November 2009. It has been updated as of January 2020.