How to Save Money on Your Beloved Pets

Here at Bitches Get Riches, we don’t just think pets are better than people—we believe it with every fiber of our ornery little hearts. Down with the anthropocene! We welcome our fuzzy lil’ treat-obsessed overlords!

Here are 23 ways you can save money on pets, from food and toys to veterinary care and boarding.

I’ll be the first to admit it’s pretty dog-and-cat-centric, so your mileage may vary. But in my defense, I treat my chickens like queens. I’ve even gone so far as to build them the Taj Mahal of chicken coops and feed them organic heirloom kale straight from the garden. So when it comes to barnyard animals, I have exactly zero experience in being frugal.

Save money on pets... unless they're a flock of spoiled, entitled, lazy egg sluts.

A lot of this advice will be about preventative measures: taking care of your pet’s health to avoid expensive vet bills or getting serious about training to avoid replacing expensive items like furniture and shoes. You can save money on pets by acknowledging that they are weird little creatures who don’t understand our strange and human ways, and that it is our responsibility to teach them and be understanding of what gets lost in translation.

Who knows! Your cat might think you want her to bat an expensive bottle of perfume off the bathroom counter to shatter on the floor! How is she supposed to know that’s wrong and bad when you yourself placed it so temptingly close to the edge???

The point is that pets aren’t inherently expensive. More than money, it takes time to make sure they fit happily into your frugal lifestyle… and you into theirs.

On with the frugal pet advice!

Save money on pets by choosing wisely

Frugal pet ownership begins with pet choice. Some animals are just plain expensive, while others are bargain bin cuties. But the research-averse shouldn’t worry: we did your homework already when we ranked 30 pets for financial efficiency!

1. Choose the right pet for your lifestyle

Dogs are cute, but they can be an expensive hassle. And while the purring inner motor of a satin-soft kitty is one of the universe’s most wholesome resources, cats aren’t ideal for people with allergies.

Likewise, young, energetic, curious puppies and kittens can take up far more of your time and money than a senior pet who just wants to sleep on a soft bed for twenty hours a day.

So maybe try an aging lizard if you have allergies or you travel frequently?

2. Adopt, don’t shop

Pet shelters are overflowing with animals you can adopt for a small fee… or for free! Meanwhile, you’ll pay top dollar at a breeder or pet store. So adopt, don’t shop!

And before you zip down to the comments to remind me that shelter dogs often come with “behavioral issues”: I fucking know. I adopted a fear-aggressive pound pup we had to muzzle-train. It was a ton of work. And I wouldn’t trade the experience for every purebred borzoi in the land.

3. Get a mutt

Mutts are cheaper to buy and care for. They so rarely have the same genetic health disorders as purebred animals, and you can get them for pennies on the dollar.

Plus, “breeds” are a vestige of Victorian eugenics. It’s so fucking weird we still do this to pets.

The notable exception to this rule is if your pet has a job.

Hunting dogs, herding dogs, ranch horses, and service animals of all kinds might be bred for particular behavioral traits and physical features. No judgment there! I’ve never met a Cavalier King Charles spaniel willing to swim through an icy pond to retrieve a dead duck or herd a flock of sheep across sprawling ranchlands. And I probably never will.

4. Don’t overcommit your time and resources

If you’re broke and have no time, choose your pet accordingly. I know some people consider animal companionship essential to their mental health. So I would never make a hard rule that some people just should not have pets. But they probably should think twice before getting high maintenance pets.

It isn’t fair to commit to properly caring for an animal and just… not. Whether or not it’s your fault, you owe it to any animal for which you accept responsibility to be responsible! So be realistic about your time commitments and maybe get a betta fish instead of a puppy if you work twelve-hour days.

Save money on your pet’s health and wellness

One of the biggest expenses when it comes to pets can be veterinary care. And I should know!

Within a few months of adopting my pound pup, he swallowed an entire sock, it got compacted in his lower intestine, and he required emergency gastrointestinal surgery to remove it. (Keep dirty laundry out of reach of your nasty-smell-loving dogs, people.)

5. Use an emergency fund instead of pet insurance

If I may make a prediction: this is the tip that will get the most debate in the comments. Come at me! But we’ve been over this, and most pet insurance is a waste of money at best and a scam at worst.

In general, you are far better off taking what you would pay in monthly pet insurance premiums and sticking it in an emergency fund. That way when your furry friend requires medical care, you have the money on hand and you don’t need to waste time filing an insurance claim that will eventually be rejected.


If you own a dog or cat, spaying or neutering is mandatory. Sterilizing your pets is good for the planet as well as their health. It’s cruel, dangerous, and impractical to forego it.

One of the reasons shelters are so full of perfectly adoptable, homeless dogs and cats is because of people neglecting to sterilize their pets. The overpopulation of domesticated animals is a human-caused problem and we have no excuse not to do what we can to fix it.

There are low cost clinics in every area. Some animals shelters will even pay you to spay/neuter a dog or cat after adoption, or at least reimburse the cost.

Even if you are confident your dog will never get pregnant (you’re extremely wrong), their biological urges will encourage them to escape, travel far from home, pick fights, contract other animal-borne diseases, and get reproductive-related cancers. So just give ’em the snip snip, ok?

7. Choose the right vet

Vets are expensive no matter what. They just are. So don’t waste energy trying to find the cheapest one. Find the best one for you. Mine makes house calls so my fear-aggressive mutt doesn’t stress around other dogs in a clinic waiting room.

If you need to drop $250 a year just for an annual exam, vaccinations, preventatives etc., at least make sure that money is going to someone who is helpful, a good listener, and respectful of the reality that costs are a concern.

If you get desperate, some veterinary clinics will give discounts for cash up front, or put your payments on an installment plan if you ask. And some cities will host free pet vaccination drives for low-income households, so keep your ear to the ground just in case.

8. Don’t outsource grooming and bathing

When my dog needs a bath, I don’t waste money on a fancy groomer. I simply tie him to a post like a political prisoner and spray him down with a hose. He hates it. It’s great.

If extensive grooming is necessary, local pet supply stores often have rental bath stalls. But a bathtub or even a kitchen sink can be an option for smaller pets.

9. Clean their teeth

Billion-dollar business idea: dog braces. Think about it.

But seriously, pets need dental care just like humans. This is another one to file under preventative care, as getting rotten or broken teeth pulled can be an expensive, harrowing experience. So brush your pet’s teeth (with special pet-grade toothpaste) or give them chew treats designed to clean their teeth.

10. Exercise your pet

One of the best ways to save money on pets is to take preventative healthcare seriously. And that means regularly exercising your pet.

I never need to clip my dog’s nails because he wears them down on the sidewalk during long walks and runs. And this large breed dog is 13 fucking years old because he has spent his life running, hiking, fetching, and walking his way to longevity.

Doctors are always saying a sedentary lifestyle will kill us humans. The same goes for pets! Proper exercise will extend the life of your pet and save you on vet bills. Plus, a properly exercised pet is one that won’t destroy expensive shit in your home because they’re bored and overflowing with energy.

Save money on pet food

Pet food is both the most necessary expense of pet ownership, and the easiest way to save money on pets. Unless your pet is a certain gaslighting, sweet potato-thieving little bastard who shall remain nameless. [insert accusatory glare here]

11. Don’t give them people food

The kind of processed foods we eat on the daily are just not meant for your pets. It can cause all kinds of expensive health problems and mess with your pet’s digestive system to constantly eat people food.

There are exceptions, of course, but we’ll get to that in a sec.

12. Get a budget food brand

The fanciest, priciest pet food brands are not necessarily the best. In our experience, Dog Food Advisor has the absolute best dog food ratings. Or you can consult your vet for a healthy budget food brand.

Don’t ever DIY cat food. But dogs are little garbage disposals—they can eat just about anything. So get the best food you can afford. But you’re not a bad pet owner if they get Kibbles ‘n Bits instead of Call of the Wild.

Remember how I said there were exceptions to the “no people food” rule? Whole foods like unseasoned meat, brown rice, sweet potato, and pumpkin can supplement your dog’s diet if your budget is tight and you need to stretch a bag of dog food until your next paycheck. But as always, consult your vet.

13. Make your own treats

One of my favorite ways to save money on pets is to make their treats myself. My chickens get veggie scraps from the garden, my dog gets offal from hunting and fishing trips, and it’s super easy to make sugar water in the winter for my bees.

Plus, dog biscuits require the cheapest ingredients. We recommend Doggy Dessert Chef for the best recipes! It’s a great way to get rid of liver and other unpalatable meats you might have in the freezer.

14. Shop in person

Instead of ordering pet food online, shop in person. Not only will you save money on delivery fees, but many pet stores will offer steep discounts—we’re talking 25-90%!—on soon-to-expire bags of food.

Save on pet supplies

The clearest way to save money on pet supplies is to buy only what you absolutely need… and skip the nice-to-haves. Your pets are not brand snobs, and they definitely don’t mind secondhand or homemade gear.

15. Cheapest toys = favorite toys

Pets don’t care how expensive their toys are. Case in point: my dog’s favorite toys are empty cardboard boxes. He tackles them and rips them to shreds with the kind of pure, unfiltered joy only exhibited by… well, by a dog ripping anything to shreds.

This goes double for cats. Those ancient Egyptian demigods only want empty paper bags and the post-it note you balled up to throw away anyhow.

So don’t waste money on expensive toys when they’re fascinated by common household objects.

Save money on pets by... getting them a roomba???

16. Bargain-hunting, crafting, and secondhand supplies

The cheapest place for dog beds and toys in my experience is Home Goods. But really, you don’t need to buy brand new pet supplies in a lot of cases. Search secondhand shops and peer-to-peer selling sites like Craigslist or even Freecycle (emphasis on the “free”) for leashes, bowls, and crates.

And don’t overestimate your pet’s needs. Stuffing an old pillowcase with some worn-out blankets will do fine for a pet bed. And outdoor retailers sell carabiners and nylon webbing by the foot for cheap homemade leashes and harnesses.

17. Get long-lasting supplies

The cheapest pet supplies are those you only ever need to buy once. So focus on toys, bedding, gates, and leashes that aren’t easily destroyed by energetic, teething little monsters.

Get a bed with a removable, washable cover to extend its lifespan many times over. And buy them cow hooves instead of rawhide to chew on.

18. Listen to your pet’s needs

If your dog has no interest in fetch, there’s no need to waste money on an expensive ball-throwing machine. If your cat is happy with a teacup of fresh water on the counter, don’t get them an expensive water fountain.

What most pets need instead is your time and attention. And that’s free!

Save on training and enrichment

Nobody likes your untrained, unruly pet. Seriously no one. Least of all your wallet. Let’s unpack that.

19. Containment is care.

Leash 👏 your 👏 fucking 👏 dogs.

You will save so much money by just making sure your dog isn’t running out into traffic or approaching aggressive dogs or bothering people who are afraid of them. Not to mention all the time you’ll save not chasing after them when they get a whiff of freedom and sprint off into the hills like there’s a rocket wedged into their little butthole.

And cat owners, you’re not off the hook either! Outdoor cats are an environmental disaster. Keep them inside to save the local wildlife and your wallet. Unless you like exorbitant vet bills for parasite removal???

20. Invest in simple, effective training

Invest in good training. It will save you metric fuckloads of money on behavioral issues later on.

You don’t even have to pay for a professional trainer or obedience school! YouTube is a vast font of at-home, DIY training tips and tricks for pets.

For example: Kitty has fostered roughly a thousand dogs by now and she has crate-trained every single one. It helps the pups with anxiety and stress, and it saves her the expense of repairing the destructive results of that anxiety and stress.

Working with a trainer who specializes in aggression issues is literally the reason my dog is still alive. It also means we’ve never had to pay for someone’s hospital or vet bills because of a biting incident.

And training doesn’t need to come with a lot of hidden or ongoing costs! Research training methods that don’t require a lot of extra gear like clickers, shock collars, or constant training treats.

21. Take advantage of free services

Dog parks? Hiking trails? Car rides? All free.

Remember, your pet doesn’t necessarily want you to spend money on them. They just want your time and attention.

It takes a village

Before we move on to our final recommendations for how to save money on pets, lemme just rub this fact in: saving money on pets functions exactly the same as saving money in all aspects of your life. You need to spend money intentionally, thoughtfully, and according to your values. If you care about something (and you better care about your furry companions or else WE WILL FIGHT YOU), you should spend your money on it accordingly—with care.

Clearly, we’ve thought a lot about the intersection of pets and money. At least as much as we’ve thought about cartoons and money or social media and money or even the assholes of Reddit and money. If you too are pet-obsessed and could ruminate for hours about their goofy habits and charming ways, here’s where to start:

22. Take advantage of the friend trade

Kennels and boarding services can be super expensive. Especially if you want your pet to stay somewhere clean and warm, instead of shivering outside like the Little Matchstick Girl while they wonder what they did to deserve abandonment.

One way to save on this is to trade petsitting with your friends. It’s the perfect sort of friend trade because you can return the favor in kind, without guilt.

A close friend of mine is a nurse, and sometimes she needs me to stop by to feed and walk her dog when she’s working a long shift. And I’m happy to do so! And not just because her dog makes me feel like the Second Coming of Betty White. It’s because I know I can rely on her to take care of my dog and chickens too if I’m out unexpectedly late. Far cheaper than hiring a dog walker.

How to save money on pets: replace air travel with a speedy hound!

23. Crowdsource frugal pet advice

How about it, Bitch Nation? Do you have any advice for how to save money on pets? Especially if those pets aren’t puppers and kittos? Tell me how you skrimp and save to keep your leopard geckos and coral snakes alive!

And if you liked this article, you have our Patreon donors to thank! They suggest and request article topics like this one all the time. Plus, we let them vote on article topics every month, they get access to exclusive content, and they get guaranteed personal answers from your humble Bitches! That’s worth at least [checks notes] a counterfeit $10-bill!

43 thoughts to “How to Save Money on Your Beloved Pets”

  1. Yoo Hoo!
    Perfect timing as always – new rescue GSD baby girl Mercy arrives on Thursday!

    Love you guys, thanks a million $.

  2. all good tips but I do have insurance for my dog, have never had a claim denied, and have been reimbursed $1000s of dollars over the past two years (my dog has been really sick, needed lots of tests, an endoscopy, and all kinds of prescriptions). We calculated how much we have paid in over the last 8 years and how much they’ve paid out and in our experience, it’s been worth it! but I can see how an emergency fund is a good idea too.

  3. Pet insurance isn’t always right, but I work at a large university and as an optional benefit! It’s relatively inexpensive (about $80/month for two dogs). We’ve had great luck getting claims filled. One of our dogs has skin allergies, and right after we got her, we had to put her on $85/month meds. With insurance, they’re less than $20/month. Add in occasional testing, etc., it’s worth it for the peace of mind for us.

  4. When I was “between homes” I signed up to be a pet sitter with Trusted Housesitters. Basically people who would be away on vacation put up a notice looking for a pet sitter. If I was interested, I would apply. The pet owner than interviews the applicants and chooses someone. If it was me, than I’d have a free place to stay while they had someone they were comfortable with to look after their pet and residence.

    Yes, you have to pay an annual fee to be listed on the website. Yes, it was work to set up a profile. But if you regularly travel on a schedule, this is a more economical way to have your pet looked after with the added bonus of your pet staying in its own home.

    Since the pandemic squashed my travel plans, I have let my membership lapse so I have no promo code to offer. But if you post something on FB or other social media links, I’m sure someone will throw you a promo code for a discount on your membership fee.

    1. I’ve never heard of this but it sounds like an AMAZING idea. And not just for those who are “between homes” (btw I hope you’re safely housed now). I can imagine doing this while traveling, especially if you have flexible dates and plans.

    2. I second this suggestion, Veronica. We’ve used Trusted Housesitters about 11 times now to have pet sitters stay in our home with our two Great Pyrenees while we’re away. It works better in some areas than others (there was a lot of demand in Austin, less demand in Ithaca, NY where we just moved). But we’re using this option for dog care for Thanksgiving this year. A local couple who is about to retire and wants to build up their profile is coming to stay with our girls. As for ROI, it costs about $125/year or so to be on the platform, but we’ve saved probably at least 11 weeks’ worth of dog sitting expenses (~$3800 if you plan on $50/night for overnight dog sitting) by being on TH. It’s not just the best financial option — our girls are much happier staying in their own home, rather than boarding. And, we’ve found people on Trusted Housesitters to be much more accommodating and laidback than pet sitters on Rover. It feels like everyone on TH understands that this is a chill, flexible arrangement. Like Couchsurfing was, back in the day before Airbnb. We’ve only had one neutral-to-bad experience out of the 11 sitters. Highly recommend! I do have a promo code, if anyone is looking to join:

  5. This is great advice! I think the pet of mine I’m most creative with (money wise) is my horse. Horses are expensive!! But I’ve definitely found ways to reduce the odds-and-ends costs. For example, I got her a $2 oil pan from Walmart to put her feed in, we ride bitless so she has 2 rope halters that cover every situation, I vaccinate her myself by getting the shots at my local Tractor Supply, I got her saddle for $175 from a local saddle shop, and my horse herself only cost $200 due to her awful health. (6 years later she’s doing much better)
    As usual the most expensive thing is the vet bills. Just paid $150 to get her eyes checked out and I’m pretty sure he’ll have to come back.
    Worth it.

    1. This is awesome advice. Thanks for sharing! I grew up in a town full of horse farms so aside from knowing how to pet them and feed them a carrot, they are waaaay outside my purview.

  6. For a long time the only credit card I had was a CareCredit card specifically for the dogs. It was a good peace of mind card while I was low on savings, and since you can only use it at vets and other human health care I knew I couldn’t run wild with it. A lot of dog care and some of my dental work went on there. They offer 6 months same as cash for over $250 purchases, and I managed to pay off those in 90% of the cases.

  7. As you know, I am a devoted pet parent. Kim and I recently added a FOURTH cat to our menagerie (plus we have one brown hound). When my Mom moved to memory care last month, we took in her beloved cat. (Broke my heart to separate them.) Managing these beasts is almost a full-time job haha. But I love it.

    One thing we do that I believe helps keep our beasts healthy is we exercise them a ton. The dog gets at least one long walk per day, often more. We play with the cats constantly. These animals are fit! Maybe it doesn’t help much, but I like to believe it does.

    I’d love to hear more advice from you about picking a vet. I’ve been frustrated by vets for decades now. Occasionally I can find one that I trust, but more often than not I feel like they’re akin to used-car salespeople. They push procedures that sound unnecessary. They want to sell me expensive products. I crave a guide to common-sense, reasonable vet services. What is important to do? What can be skipped?

    1. Your mom is so lucky to know that her beloved cat will have a happy home even when she can’t take care of her. You and Kitty have a lot to talk about–she recently did the same with her grandfather’s dog.

      I was a MERCENARY when it came to interviewing vets. Strider is fear aggressive under the best of circumstances, but bringing him into a clinic the first few times was absolutely disastrous. He went berserk. So I called every vet in town, told them exactly our situation, and asked them how they would handle it if we gave them our business. A lot of them were like “Oh, it should be fine, just bring him in,” which was exactly as helpful as a hole in the head.

      We ended up choosing our vet because a) he is an old farm vet who switched from large unfriendly farm animals to pets when he “retired,” b) he makes house calls, c) he is completely unfazed by Strider’s aggression, d) for minor procedures like vaccinations and blood draws, he fills the syringes and teaches me how to actually do the hands-on work. All of this means the dog stays calm in one room while the vet is safely in another, and I go between. It’s a great system, it works perfectly for us… but we had to kiss a lot of frogs before we found our prince.

      All of which is to say: my best advice is asking a lot of rude questions on the phone before settling on a vet! Upselling is never ok, but I’m sure a lot of folks fall for it because nothing is “too good” for their fur baby!

      1. I also have a fear-aggressive dog named Strider!!! Fistbump of solidarity!

        We live in a very small town and took a similar approach in vet selection you did.
        Our vet’s practice is a mixed large and small animal practice – our vet does not care at all if our 50 pound dog snaps at him because chances are excellent our vet been charged by a bull or something in the past week so he literally does not care. He’s also very sensible about minimizing blood draws and other procedures and is great if we just stop by with the dogs to desensitize them – he even makes a point of coming out to pet our dogs and give them treats.

        Mixed large and small animal vets are amazing, I can’t imagine going back to having a large animal vet and a seperate small animal vet for our family – having one vet who knows we humans and all of our animals is truly priceless, particularly given that our Strider has some issues.

          1. Not simple so much as having very sighthound-y tendencies, if that makes sense – he’s independent and self-motivated, which is great when you want him to do the thing he also wants to do, but when you want him to hold still for the vet and he doesn’t see the point it’s a tricky proposition.

            To his endless mortification, however, he LOVES attention. We got him from the pound when I was in med school and he was my study buddy – he did not start out snuggly or playful or affectionate but he loved literally nothing more than to have me look into his eyes and talk to him about pharmacology or anatomy or pathology or whatever for hours on end. He’s absolutely ride-or-die for me and over time he’s turned into a playful, affectionate snugglemonster, much to his chagrin and our delight.

            He’s basically a walking manifestation of the “Thanks, I hate it!” meme, but “it” is love, affection, and stability, and I love him for it.

    2. I’ve always had the best luck with smaller vets—not the big flashy animal clinics, but the little practices that are just the size the main vet likes to manage. Our current vet is AMAZING and came highly recommended from a friend whose cat is her life. She’s the first vet I’ve had to recommend antibiotic shots vs. pills when applicable—why yes, I’ll gladly pay $70 for a shot instead of $20/pilling a cat for two weeks! The big vet in town (not our choice, but the shelter’s) gave us pills the size of Altoids, which I was somehow supposed to give to our newly adopted cat, who had just had surgery AND three teeth pulled. Our vet found 15 minutes in a fully scheduled day to inject him with the prescribed antibiotic and to clean up the other vet’s sloppy sutures; she only charged for the shot, not the appointment. When the time came to say goodbye to my fourteen-year-old soul kitty, our vet cried, too, and gave me a big hug afterwards. In short, check the smaller clinics in your area! They’re where the gems lie.

  8. One thing that has helped me keep my horse costs as low as possible is boarding at a barn where everyone is very low key and doesn’t care about appearances – some of the show barns can get very pricy with the keeping up with the Joneses factor! Obviously that only works if you aren’t showing or working with a trainer based out of one of those barns.

    I also leased my horse for almost a decade before finally buying her, and then promptly leased her out half time to a teenager girl. That only lasted for a year, but it was very very helpful cost-wise as I made the transition from leasing to owning.

  9. I had a strong, active dog (Australian Kelpie cross) I would recommend buying cotton woven leads rather than plastic woven leads cause if your dog pulls away suddenly on the lead plastic leads will give you rope burn. I found a choke collar to be useless but a good quality shoulder harness gave me good control of my dog when out walking.

    And I know its sad to think about but seriously consider the cost of major surgery especially with senior pets. My dog developed a tumor on his chest at 13 years old, I borrowed $2500 from my mum to pay for surgery only to have him go into kidney failure and have to be put down 2 months after the surgery possibly due to the stress on his system from having the surgery.

    I was only working minimum wage and it took over a year to pay the money back.

  10. Here’s a tip that doesn’t just apply to pet purchases – buy discounted gift cards to the stores you frequent like a pet store, Target, but also restaurants, Airbnb, etc. If you’re organized and can remember to use the discounted cards you can really rack up some savings for purchases you were already going to make. There are several websites and apps that sell them. You can even sell unwanted gift cards for cash.

    1. Yes!!! Absolutely! And get a frequent shopper card or membership at your favorite pet store. Ours gives us a free bag of food for every 20 bags we buy. I’ll have to add that to the article…

  11. This is one my mum figured out a while back and I’ll tell any cat owner that’ll listen because she’s clearly a genius:
    If you have the space to keep a container for it, you can get a 50lb bag of chick starter feed for about $20 (in CAD, not sure about USD) at farming supply stores and it makes excellent kitty litter. It clumps, my cat loves it, and you’ll get approximately months of fresh litter out of a single bag if you change it weekly. It’s technically flushable, but I wouldn’t recommend flushing any litter unless you really want to call in a plumber down the line.

    1. *Six months! You’ll get approximately 6 months of fresh litter if you change it weekly is what I meant to say. Gosh, sometimes attention to detail really is vital.

  12. I love this! You guys are comprehensive as always!

    As a librarian, I can also recommend the library for pet training books. If you’re having trouble finding what you want, ask a librarian! We love helping with research. 🙂

    You very brieeefly mentioned not to DIY cat food. To me, that deserves its own paragraph lol! Cats are obligate carnivores: they MUST have meat protein in their diet or they will starve to death.

    Some years ago, I adopted a cat from some college students. They’d found him starving and unkempt around their dorm and had loved on him for 2-3 weeks, but hiding their illicit kitty from the RA was getting tough. They brought him to me with the cheap cat food they’d been feeding him. I noticed he was still quite skinny despite their care, and took a closer look at the food. It was composed entirely of whey (dairy) protein. Cheap enough for a college student, but not good enough for a feline. (Why this stuff was marketed for cats is beyond me. I hope that brand has crashed and burned like they deserve.)

    I sent my partner out for meat-based kibbles and immediately cracked open a can of human-grade tuna — the only meat I had in the house. I put out half of it for my new cat, as I didn’t want to overfeed him into vomiting. This baby had been abandoned and (we’re pretty sure) abused, and he was nervous about everything, but the food lured him down off the top of the fridge in minutes. He INHALED the tuna, then proceeded to hang around my ankles giving me the most desperate look. I gave it a minute to see if he would throw up, and then caved and gave him the rest of the can.

    From that day forward, I was his Person. (To the point that as my partner turned more and more verbally abusive, my excellently-behaved kitty began to pee on my partner’s side of the bed. We moved house and switched sides of the bed, and kitty switched sides for his peeing: my partner was his only target.)

    We came to find out that my baby had been half of his healthy weight when he came to us: 7 pounds, instead of his healthy 13. He’d spent 2-3 weeks only eating whey-based protein; he might as well have been eating nothing but grass.

    Phew, got that off my chest. I get a little passionate when it comes to cats…

    1. “Ask a librarian” should be the go-to advice for pretty much all of life’s problems.
      This is a great example of why some people ARE NOT READY for a pet. Those students probably had no idea cats are obligate carnivores. Their ignorance nearly killed the poor thing. This is why we boiled our cat food advice down to “NO DIY,” because it was easier but fuck, I had no idea about that whey protein stuff! Glad your kitty is all better, and I hope your abusive partner is also a thing of the past, my dear…

  13. I am all about the “No pet insurance” advice, particularly for rescues – basically every policy I’ve found can claim anything is a pre-existing condition and bail on you since you haven’t had that animal from birth. No thanks! We have an extra emergency fund for vet expenses, it has a nice chunk of change in there, and I sleep better at night knowing I don’t need to worry about if insurance will pay for something.

    This is potentially rather niche but we also have equids – two horses and a donkey. One horse I got for free through a family friend who couldn’t take care of her anymore, the donkey is a feral donk from the BLM so we are literally being paid by the federal government to adopt him, and the third horse is a retired racehorse from the rescue I volunteer at; her adoption fee was a third of what I would’ve paid through a private sale for a horse of similar quality and also tax deductible. If you’re going to get a horse and have the time and skill to take on a project, my advice is to not bother with buying a horse – ask around and find someone who loves their horse and wants them in a good home, contact your local rescues to see what they have, or if you REALLY want a project and aren’t particularly tall (my husband is 6 feet tall and I’m 5’10”, its hard to find a mustang big enough for us) to look at adopting a mustang through the BLM – seriously, the government pays you to adopt them, and we found the adoption process for our donkey to be easy and straightforward, well worth being able to pet his giant majestic ears every day <3

    1. Ah, the pre-existing condition of being a rescued pet… it can be pretty damn expensive in denied insurance claims.
      And I’m so glad you chimed in with the equid info! I had no idea the BLM would PAY YOU to take a retired pack animal off their hands. That’s #frugalpetownership FTW.

      1. So that’s the best part: He’s not retired! He’s a three-year-old burro with his entire working life in front of him, and we’re still being paid to adopt him! Granted we have to feed him, house him, and train him, but that’s just part of having a burro and we expected that. He is feral but training him has been far easier than I expected – truly you gain an appreciation for the difference between a feral animal (even if they’ve been feral for generations) vs. a truly wild animal. Our burro is sassy but he’s not fearful or aggressive and he actually likes meeting new people now that he’s lived with us for a while – domestication is a crazy cool thing!

        My husband is thrilled to have a packing buddy for hunting and camping for the next couple of decades for the low, low price of being paid $1k (which he has turned around and spent on some very nice custom-made packing gear for our burro), and I’m thrilled that I get to pet our burro’s ears every day and pet his lil nose. Everyone wins!

  14. Not just ‘don’t DIY cat food’ but be very careful about cheap cat food. As another commenter mentioned, they can be filler, but even the better-known grocery store brands may not have enough meat protein in them. Meaning, a lifetime of it leads to diabetic older cats. If caught early, this can be reversed though a better diet. But I’ve known a lot of ppl that spend their cats’ final decade giving the kitty insulin, which is not cheap or fun!

  15. Hello bitches and fellow bitch nation members – my money saving tip is that a lot of places offer 30% off your first autoship order – but there’s nothing saying you can’t cancel before the next order arrives. So go set up autoship at Chewy, then cancel. Then the next time you have to buy something do autoship from Petco – then cancel. Then do the same thing at petsmart. If you time everything right, you can do like a whole year of savings on recurring expenses like food, litter, etc.

  16. My tip is grooming/brushing cats. I’ve had many cats over the decades, and most of the time they’ll take care of themselves, so it isn’t the first thing I’d think they’d need. Our elderly cat started to struggle and so we had to take over. It was a challenge to find a brush she’d accept, but the glove one worked for us. And a year later when our other cat started projectile vomiting and multiple vet visits, new food, and a round of steroids only temporarily fixed it, turned out that regular brushing did the trick.

  17. Becareful with the food and watch where the ingredients are sourced from, not just where it is manufacturered.. Feeding good quality food saves on vet bills.. and never give your dogs grapes.

  18. Check out your local shelters! I work for a shelter in Arizona that does vaccine clinics once a month for the public – for $18 each you can get Rabies, DHPP, Bordetella, Leptosporosis, and K9 Influenza for dogs and Rabies, FeLV, and FVRCP for cats. They also have a community outreach low cost pet vet. They even have a program for if your dog has puppies (we adopt out the puppies and spay your dog), as well as recommendation for low cost spay/neuter clinics.

  19. Choosing the right pet is indeed something many people struggle with. Many people get pets that they can’t have the time for but complain later. Really important to learn more about an animal you might want to adopt.

  20. Why didn’t I read this when it was first published? That was 3 weeks before I adopted my little senior dog @ age 9 (her original owner died from COVID, and she was in deep mourning).

    I tried The Farmer’s Dog human food after a few months on good kibble (Nutro) and canned food. Pricey…but they have recipes and sell a vitamin powder supplement, so I cook for her. I like giving her human food. I make excellent use of the soon-to-expire discounted meat for her, and all manor of canned, fresh and frozen veggies. Turns out we both despise spinach and broccoli, lol. For kibble snacks, I give her Wysong, which a vet tech recommended as the budget version of Hill’s Science.

    Yes I have insurance on her – it has always paid for itself and then some, especially when she was roughed up by a neighbor’s skittish rescue. I board her either at the shelter where I got her (short stays 1-2 nights) for socializing with other dogs. Or if longer, I found a woman through some Christmas charity activities who doesn’t cost much more and lets her sleep on her bed.

    She’s my first pet ever. She makes me take breaks from tech to walk and care for her. Her little body grounds me during episodes of sleep paralysis, she is a furry little anti-depressant, and it’s fun seeing my dog-hating mom (we live together) be silly and loving with her. She read me the riot act about how I’d be responsible for feeding, walking, bathing, yard clean-up, vet bills, etc – I had to remind her that I was a very competent adult in my 50s, lol. She still thinks I’m 10.

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