When Mr. MMM and I decided to get together it turned out to be a modern-day Brady Bunch, except with pets. Okay, to be honest, I am the one who had 3 pets to his 1, but I’m not pointing fingers here. The bottom line is that, since marrying, we are now a 4-pet household. We didn’t exactly anticipate being outnumbered by our pets, but life does happen. Overall, we couldn’t be happier with our furry little family but they do come at a cost. Pets aren’t cheap, so I’d like to outline our frugal approach to pet ownership.
I’ll start with the introductions. We have two Mad Money Pups and two Mad Money Cats. Our house sports a purebred German Shepherd Dog and a not-so-purebred, white German Shepherd Dog. On the feline end of the spectrum, we have a Maine Coon Cat and a Calico Cat. Meow! And just for fun, I’m going to go ahead and give you their actual names – just this once. And here we go, in order, rapid-fire: Kier, Mox, Neko, and Ember.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
For starters, we make sure our pets are not overweight. Obesity in animals, just like people, can cause a plethora of problems and diseases that are costly and can shorten their lifespan. Since we really love our little companions, we want to keep them as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
In order to maintain that healthy weight I was talking about, we purchase only grain-free foods for their feasts. We stick to one brand and buy it at a discount pet food warehouse that is only a few miles from our house. Oh, happy day!
Oftentimes, the manufacturers will run deep discounts on their products. It’s not uncommon to see a buy 1 get 1 free deal. In fact, just before Christmas, they were running this very deal on both dog and cat food. You better believe I stocked up. Since the discount was limited to one per customer, Mr. MMM and I took turns going through the check-out lines and returned to the store on multiple occasions to make sure we had a stockpile that wouldn’t exceed the expiration date. We’re now totally stocked on pet food through the summer. Not only are we feeding our furry friends top quality food, but it’s not costing us as much as it would have had we opted for a less expensive, grocery store brand. Thankfully, because we’re a really frugal bunch, we had the extra cash to drop on pet food when the discount hit.
Related: Owning A Pet Sucks!
Daily exercise is also a key ingredient in their overall health plan and our overall frugality plan. It helps with weight management and also keeps their muscles toned and senses keen. The dogs are able to play each day in our generously-sized, fenced-in backyard. When the weather is nice enough, we also take them on treks around the neighborhood. The backyard is nice and they do chase each other and use it as an outdoor track, but hitting the sidewalk with mom and dad gives them the opportunity to see and smell new things. A must for keeping them engaged and happy.
The two cats are forever raising you know what. If they’re not chasing one another through the house, they’re jumping on the dogs or batting around their toys. Our Maine Coon (Neko) loves to toss a toy down the steps, run down after it, and bring it back up to do the entire process all over again. He, essentially, plays fetch with himself. It’s hilarious. Maine Coons truly are the cats for “dog” people.
And don’t even think about buying toys. It’s a no-brainer to just make your own. Tie a few old (clean) socks together to make a tug toy for the dogs. Give the cats a plastic ring off of some item you have in your house. Graciously accept pet toys from family, friends, and neighbors during the gift-giving season! Easy peasy.
In the past, we had an aging Maine Coon who was not able to take care of his fur anymore. For the last 2 years of his life, we were taking him for quarterly grooming, but that is the cost of an aging pet. These days, all grooming is done at home. Baths and brushing are done in the yard for the dogs and in the house for the cats. Nails are trimmed either at home or at the vet. Vets typically do this free-of-charge if you ask. Needless to say, whenever we find ourselves at the vet, we ask.
The only animal we ever had to take to a groomer was the Maine Coon we lost last year. But that was because he was aging (pushing 20-years old!) and couldn’t care for himself like he had in the past. Expect to roll up your sleeves to deal with a situation like this one. Sooner or later, it will happen.
Another piece of our frugal pet ownership puzzle is keeping our cats indoors – exclusively. I would love for them to enjoy being outside, but we have been told by our vet that it is much healthier for them to remain indoors. They miss out on viruses, parasites, and fights with feral animals. Don’t feel too bad for them. Our pets live a life of luxury and I have even been known to open a window or two here and there.
Regular And No-So-Regular Vet Visits
Pet ownership does not come without a few vet bills. We keep everyone on a routine schedule for annual check-ups and required vaccinations. Because we have 4 little loved ones who frequent the same vet, we get the multi-pet discount! This is super helpful when it comes time to pay the bill. If you have more than one pet and you’re not getting a discount at your vet’s office, go ahead and ask for one!
Unfortunately, you will experience occasional vet visits that are not planned. We had just this situation last month. Our white Shepherd mix started shedding excessively for this time of year. Mini helped me load him into the car and take him down to see the doc. Of course, this happened during the one month that Mr. MMM was away for work. No problem, we handled it and, fortunately, all blood work came back normal, with the exception of one indicator that we’re currently “keeping an eye on”. Since he’s inching towards being a mature adult, the vet wasn’t too concerned and didn’t require a follow-up visit unless things got worse. Thankfully, things got better and he’s back to his normal amount of shedding these days!
Lots of Love
I will admit that all of our animals, with the exception of the Maine Coon, were rescues. We are suckers for animals that need homes, especially adults. Along with our daughter, the two of us, and our 4 pets, our house has reached maximum capacity. In years to come, I expect we will look back on the time we housed and cared for 4 animals and wonder how we did it. For now, we’re enjoying the ridiculously joyous, furry, and mostly inexpensive experience of frugal pet ownership.
So, that’s how we do frugal pet ownership. How do you do it? Do you have any tips I missed? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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