My Expensive Emma



Look at that picture. It’s adorable isn’t it? Go on, you can admit it. That face is the definition of adorable. It also is the very potential for going broke.


Believe it or not, I know of some people who think that owning a pet doesn’t cost much, especially a cat. Well, they’re wrong, very wrong. You need to get more than food to take care of a cat properly. An adult cat isn’t quite as expensive as a kitten (especially if you have vet insurance) but here is what you need to get for your new kitty roommate. But don’t worry; you don’t have to go broke finding all these things


Food (both canned and dry)

Cat and dog food and treats are some of the most commonly seen coupons, so that shouldn’t be a problem, just remember to stock up when you see a deal. You might keep a list of what brands cost what when not on sale so you can recognize a great deal when there is a sale. If your new friend is under a year old, you will need food that specifically says it is for kittens because it has needed extra protein for growth. If your kitten is very little, you might need formula for a couple of weeks. Don’t forget to grab some treats.


Litter, litter box, and scoop.

Cat owners know that you can go through litter like water. Ok, maybe another analogy would be better. But any way you say it, you buy litter even more than food sometimes. So it’s a good thing you can find litter coupons everywhere, it really helps with your pet budget. Litter obviously doesn’t spoil, so feel free to stock up as much as you can when a sale and coupon deal is on.

I found some basic litter pans and scoops at my local Dollar Tree. Your cat doesn’t need a complicated one, especially at first while litter training, and a small cat or kitten would prefer a smaller plain one that she can easily get into and out of.

Remember that while litter box training, you will want to keep several litter boxes spread around the house as a small kitten might not be able to hold it in long enough to make it to one main box.


Scratching posts

It’s possible to find used cat trees and scratching posts, especially at garage sales and Craigslist. But if many cats used it before, your kitty might avoid using it. I decided it would be better to just buy a basic new one for now. When a local pet store has another major sale, I will check RetailMeNot for extra deals and get a larger one.


Cat bed

For a new kitten, a big cat bed isn’t necessary at first. Kittens like to feel snuggled and a cat bed may be simply too large. During the day Emma loves to sleep in a shoe box I have lined with a small microfiber throw. The throw itself was found for two dollars in the clearance bin at my local Wal-Mart.  At night she meows until I allow her onto my pillow so she can snuggle with me instead. Darn this adorableness!

Later on, I will check online for any free cat bed sewing patterns. I have a lot of fabric leftover from various projects and I like to use them in various small projects like this.


Hygiene items

All cats need things like claw clippers, dental products, shampoo, and brushes. Your individual cat’s needs might be medicine for flea and ticks, hairball remedies, de-wormers, calming sprays, and others.

I was able to find claw clippers and cat brushes and dental brushes at my local Dollar Tree. There was some flea medicine, but I don’t know how good it is. Although my vet said Emma was flea free, she still gave me some samples of prescription flea medicine that will last for a few months. You might ask your vet if they have any samples of medicine and remedies needed to keep your kitty happy and healthy.


Toys, toys, toys.

Toys may seem silly but they are actually very important to a cat’s mental and physical well-being. They both teach and allow an outlet for instinctual hunting, as well as comfort, and a place to chew and fight that’s not your skin. They also get good exercise from chasing a flashing ball or a ribbon on a stick

Always be sure to check the Dollar Tree for cat toys. Some basic ones, including balls with bells or rattles are found here. They even had some small containers of catnip.  More complicated cat toys were found at 5 Below. You can also easily make some cat toys.  Cats love paper bags and anything that crinkles. You can cut up and tape some paper bags (NEVER plastic ones) and create a “tunnel” for you kitty to play in. You cat may also love to chase a ball of crumpled aluminum foil. You can search online for other homemade cat toy ideas.

Another tip:  Rotate your cat toy box. Don’t give all the toys to your cat at once. Keep some aside in a box and switch them out every few weeks when her interest starts to wane. Your kitty will get excited at always getting “new” toys.


Health Care

Now I must stress to you the importance of getting vet insurance. Vet bills are very expensive and usually unexpected. At first, it will add some to your budget spending now, but you won’t regret it later when something happens and you are facing a sudden thousand dollar bill. There are many vet insurance programs out there. Embrace, ASPCA, PetsFirst, BestPets and many others. Please check with all programs to see what they cover and how much they are. Not all programs cover routine exams, so you must decide for yourself if you want the extra cost. A good basic insurance for illnesses or accidents is around $15 a month. I have decided to spend the extra for her first year, so that her new kitten shots will be covered, and later I might drop the extra and pay the routine exam  fees myself. I will, of course, keep the main insurance against accidents and illnesses. My previous cat Jewel was very ill the last few months of her life, and I spent a lot of money trying to help her. I wish I had had vet insurance then. Most insurances, (like human ones) don’t cover pre-existing illnesses so it’s important that you buy the policy and get your kitten checked out by a vet before any possible illness symptom begins.

One of the most important and best things to do for your cat’s health is getting her or him spayed or neutered. This is good not only for the cat’s physical health, but your mental one. A cat in heat will constantly yowl and spray all over the place, keeping you up and driving you crazy. Spaying or neutering will prevent many diseases including various cancers. It is thought that unless you are going to get the cat specifically for breeding purposes, it’s best to spay or neuter them. For females, it’s best to spay them at around 4 or 5 months old, before their first heat.

Spaying or neutering is a surgery so you might think it’s out of your budget, but actually there are many low cost spaying programs. Check the ASPCA website to find local vets who will spay or neuter your pet at a discount or even free if you meet the requirements.

Here’s a great way to save on a de-clawing procedure. Don’t get one. This is basically amputating your cats toes and it is completely unnecessary. It’s also dangerous. If your cat escapes, she has no way to defend herself against outdoor predators. If your cat isn’t using his scratching post, try one made of a different material, and gently place her paws on it when you see her begin to scratch something else. Spreading catnip on the scratching post might also help her become attracted to it. There is also a product called Softcaps that is available at your local pet store. These are simple plastic caps that are glued on to your cat’s claws and last for a couple of weeks at a time.


Although there are some extra costs at first while you get your starter supplies, if you find used items and shop around you can get some pretty good deals. And once you’re set up, the costs slow down. Once an adult cat, most of your costs are vet insurance premiums, and easily couponed food and litter. A new toy is only for once in a while and a new scratching post might be a once in a year splurge. Budgeting doesn’t mean depriving yourself of the company of your furry friends. Being frugal doesn’t mean giving up a nice quality of life and I have always believed a house with fur on the furniture is a happier one.




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