Pet Shopping Extremes and Furbaby Money Tips

5 years ago

I love my cat. And I loved the cat before her, and the cat before HER, and the seventeen cats before her. (I grew up near a farm. They came in packs of three back then.) And I admit, I've been known to spend enough money on my cats to make my mother's mouth fall open. (My cat Sybil needed daily thyroid pills for years.) April 11 is National Pet Day, so I thought we really needed to discuss caring for our furbabies: the good, the bad, and the ridiculously expensive.

Henri, he does not think it ridiculous.

First off, let's be responsible.

How to Save Money on Pet Care
  • Read medicine labels -- DIY Section Editor Jen Perkins said she stopped buying her dog's joint medicine at the vet when she realized it was the same conjointon and fish oil she could get at Sam's Club for way less.

  • Order medicine online -- Frugal blogger Kendal Perez says she saves 34% on her dog's heart worm medication by buying generic medicine online.

  • Give Fifi used hair ribbons instead of buying toys -- Life & Green Section Editor Heather Clisby gives her kitty Boudreaux stuff like hair clips, guitar picks and crumpled receipts to bat around. Survey says Boudreaux doesn't care.

  • Safety First! -- Dr. Marty Becker at the AARP reminds us of the obvious: If your dog or cat is inside or in a fenced yard, it's a lot harder for her to get hit by a car or eaten by a bear.

  • Look for Deals on Spaying/Neutering: Because it's so important to fix your pet, there are low-cost options. Check out the map on the ASPCA's site to find one near you. And then don't forget to actually do it!

  • Vaccination Clinics -- Let your local pet store know you're looking for low-cost vaccination clinics -- they might host one themselves!

  • Coupons -- You can get coupons for just about anything. Community Manager Denise Tanton has a whole series on couponing, which you should really read if you're trying to save money. (hint)

  • Brush, brush, brush -- Save or avoid grooming fees by brushing your dog or cat daily, especially in spring and early summer when they're shedding like sheep. And hey, maybe you can even make a sweater: DOUBLE SAVINGS.

One of Life's Small Pleasures: Shopping for Your Pet

Now, if you want to spend money on your pet, you certainly can!

Cat Scratch DJ, yo

We're on the fence about these:

  • Catnip Bubbles: I'd never even heard of these. Exec Editor Julie Ross Godar says they're cat torture, but Denise says her son had a cat who thought they were the bomb.

  • Cat Scratch DJ: I might be losing my mind, but if my cat, Petunia, had claws, I would totally consider getting her this for Christmas. Sometimes $35 is worth it for a lifetime of entertainment and Twitter pics.

  • Fling-ama-string Pet Toy: We actually used to have one of these. My former cat Bella LOVED IT WITH ALL HER HEART. She would stalk that trippy rainbow string forever. Petunia regarded it with distrust, and we ended up donating it to Goodwill, because it is the stupidest looking thing ever.

Pet Shopping Extremes: OMG, You've Got to Be Kidding Me

The Pet Loo for Cats (although yes, that's a dog)

Here are some products I found that are over-the-top unless you just won the megamillions.

  • The Pet Loo: Only $99, and they even have one for cats. Um, I thought cat loos were called "litter boxes"?

  • SureFlap Pet Doors: I'll let the product copy speak for itself: "SureFlap cat doors recognize the ID chip already implanted in your cat, allowing access to your pet and making unwanted visitors a thing of the past." I feel like they left out the part about vaporizing anything without said implanted chip. (Although check out cute little Flipper, the inventor's cat.)

  • Temperature-controlled pet bed: Is Ranger too hot even with the air conditioning on? Get him this bed made from fabric worn by astronauts.

  • Designer dog boots: The High Fashion Collection: For when your dog needs Goliath sandals.

  • Dog leg warmers: These are sold. End of story.

Henri would also like to direct your attention to the fake Mitt Romney pet accessories Pinterest board.

Any tips? Are you frugal when it comes to your pet, or does Princess have a wardrobe larger than yours?

Rita Arens authors Surrender, Dorothy and is the editor of the award-winning parenting anthology Sleep is for the Weak. She is the senior editor for

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