I post under the name Chou Chou. Chou Chou is the cat. Well the favorite cat out of the three cats in the house. I picked his name as my blogger name. This leads me to some interesting ideas on frugal pet care. Obviously having animals costs money. I think that it is worth it for the contribution they bring to my life and to my children's lives but that doesn't mean I want to spend a lot of money on them.
Here are some tips for frugality when it comes to pets:
1. Feed them the right food so they don't get sick - This is the most important element to having a pet. As anyone with a pet knows, one visit to the veterinarian puts you into the poor house. You can easily avoid unnecessary visits by feeding your animal decent food. By decent food I do not mean the most expensive that is out there. I am talking about food that does not have fillers or preservatives in it. Just as people shouldn't be eating food with this junk in it because it gunks up their system the same goes for animals. There is a relatively inexpensive product at Walmart that is called Maxximum (blue and black bag) that is the store brand that is decent with no additives or preservatives and no fillers. Look at what you are feeding your animals and find a better alternative to junky food. Your pocketbook will thank you later. So will your animal by living and loving you for many years to come.
2. Search out alternatives - We recently adopted a hurt chicken. She was a major layer in her flock but got hurt and was getting attacked by the other chickens so a friend of ours let us keep her until she was healed and then we ended up keeping her. My daughters love this chicken. They named her Roxy because, as we all know, once you name an animal your dad cannot butcher it. The woman that gave her to us gave us a bag of feed to give to her. We had already decided that she would be free ranging in the back yard and that we would add to her meal by supplementing with feed but I did not run out and by her some feed which was certainly overpriced from the feed store. I made my own. Since we buy grains in bulk for the family it was not difficult to come up with a mixture that would be good for a chicken. I combined in a container millet, steel cut oats, regular oatmeal, flax seed, flax meal, corn meal, and sunflower seeds. These are all organic so she is eating organic feed. She also eats scraps from the kitchen. Since she is a layer she is giving back to us for our caring for her. Great symbiotic relationship - like it is supposed to be. Again, don't just run off to the store to spend money - seek out alternatives first.
3. Animals do not need "things" - Does your dog really need a skirt? Does your cat really need a jeweled collar or that complex jungle gym thingy- ma-bob taking up space in your living room? Do you really need to provide a lavish pet bed or fancy walking gear or a pet stroller for your animal? Do you think that it increases their quality of life? It doesn't. Buying animals things does not do anything for the animal - the things are for people. So people can show off their pet or feel better about their pet or perhaps it makes the person feel better about themselves, who knows? Let me tell you before you think I sound like some bitter pet owner - I spoil my pets rotten, but with love and not things. Kind of how we should treat our kids don't you think? (Rant for later)
4. Let's say your animal does get sick - Try, if it is not an emergency, to wait until business hours to get treatment for your pet. If you go to an after hours emergency vet you might as well leave your first born child as payment because you will be in debt if you weren't already after you leave that place. Try to comfort your animal until regular hours and then take them in.
5. Weigh the options of treatment - We lost our dog of 14 years two years ago. We loved that dog. He was the healthiest dog. never went to the vet except for shots. Again I believe this is because we fed him the right things and loved him with all our hearts. He was heading down hill and when it came time to decide what to do we elected not to do all the expensive tests to see if there was an "out" and they could stabilize him. His body was failing him and so we had him put down. That was probably one of the hardest decisions we ever had to make and as bad as I wanted to spend whatever the amount to see if he could be saved, if there was a 1% chance, I knew we couldn't do it. He was in renal failure and we just needed to let him go.
This has nothing to do with frugality but I will share it just in case anyone out there who reads this blog (does anyone read this blog?!?) has pet that they lost or if they lose a pet explaining it to children can be difficult. We heard comments like "I never want another animal again" or "I cannot love another animal" or "We should have never gotten him in the first place if he is just going to die and we feel bad." These are all valid feelings that children will experience. We told our children that yes, it would be easier if we did not have to say good-bye but we would never trade those years that we had Jake because he added so much to our lives. Our lives were better because of him. (I am starting to cry) We would have missed out on a lot if we did not have him so it was worth it even though he had to leave us. We buried him in the back yard and had a funeral for him. The children stood at his grave and threw flowers into it before we buried him. We also buried him with his tennis ball because he loved that stupid ball. The children planted a tree over top of him in his memory. And they can "visit" him anytime they want to by going to his resting place.
Perhaps some of these things can help you and your family whether the grief of losing a beloved pet.
Dedicated to Jake - 6-23-06
[Disclaimer - I'd like to add that Augie left a comment about there being a true need for some pets to use strollers. I agree with this wholeheartedly! I believe there are cases where it does add to the animal's and the owner's life. I was merely speaking of people who buy strollers for animals that do not NEED such devices to make their lives complete. Thank you Augie for helping me to remember that I need to clarify these things.]