Following the financial disaster that has spread throughout the world, many charities are reporting fewer animals being rehomed and more animals being abandoned or surrendered. These are desperate times but with a little bit of forethought and commonsense domestic pets should be able to remain with their loving families.


‘Don’t be tempted to compromise on welfare in order to save money,’ RSPCA Chief Vet Mark Evans said in a recent interview in Your Cat magazine.  ‘Instead, get in touch with the RSPCA or other responsible animal charities and find out what help is available.’

The PDSA has a free phone number where concerned pet owners can obtain advice if they are struggling to provide for their pet’s good health. 0800 731 2502.

Don’t make the mistake of cutting back on health insurance either. Unbudgeted trips to the vets’ surgery can cost a small fortune and if you don’t have pet insurance this can make a huge indent in a family’s already stretched or depleted budget. It’s also important to maintain yearly booster injections to keep your pets healthy and safe from other ‘nasties’ which would cost a whole lot more to treat. So prevention is better than cure – remember that!

Dietwise: the jury is out on whether dry or wet food is better but it’s perfectly ok to mix the two. All my cats have wet food in pouches and I trawl various supermarkets and pet stores to get the best value for money on the brand that my cats will eat. Its false economy to buy a different (cheaper) brand (in Billy, Sam and Ollie’s case) because they just won’t eat it and it will be wasted. But there is always a certain amount of wastage because they never eat everything that I put in their bowl. The secret is to put slightly less than usual and then if that gets eaten in one go you can offer a little bit more.

I also put down a couple of bowls of dried food so that if I’m out of the house for a few hours and any of them get a bit peckish, there is always something available for them to eat. Some vets will advocate that feeding purely dried food is all right but there are others who maintain that major health concerns can arise if a cat is fed on just dried food. Some cats don’t drink very much and kidney problems can develop. Always have plenty of water bowls in different areas so that your cat can take a drink whenever he is passing a bowl.

Do not even consider feeding your cat (or dog) left over food from your own meals. There are not enough nutrients and minerals in food for humans and to feed your cat solely on human food will cause all manner of health problems.

Cats need Taurine which is a vital component to help their eyesight; our human food does not contain this essential ingredient and over time your cat will become very sick. Feeding leftovers can lead to obesity as it is often the fatty meat that is given to a cat. Obesity is linked with a number of other diseases: heart disease, liver disease, arthritis and diabetes.

Consider using a cheaper brand of litter but one that is nearest in type to the one your cat currently uses. Be careful of sharp gritty gravelly types which can hurt their paws making them reluctant to use the tray – and they will choose to urinate and defecate in other areas.

Toys do not need to be expensive top of the (price) range ones either. Scrunched up paper or aluminium foil screwed up into a ball thrown gently or rolled towards the cat for him to run after will give the cat and his owner hours of fun. Cut a strip of paper and tie a length of string or ribbon around the middle (creating a butterfly effect) and let it ‘fly’ just overhead and watch your cat try to catch it. Collect toilet tubes and create a pyramid taping them together. Put little treats of dry cat food in them or little cat nip toys for them to forage and delve into – this will keep your cat amused for ages – especially if you are out of the house for long periods.

Most flea treatments, worming products and other medications that you would normally get from your vets can be bought from on-line pet supermarkets or superstores.  Many of these can be purchased for a considerable discount, even taking into consideration postage and VAT so it’s worth doing a price comparison before you shop to ensure you’re getting the best deal available.

The Blue Cross has a Veterinary Care Fund grant scheme which was set up to help low income pet owners who don’t live near a Blue Cross hospital or clinic. This pays for unexpected bills at their own vets. The PDSA reported a 20% increase in the number of applications for this.

If you get help with your rent or council tax, you may be eligible for free veterinary treatment for your pet from the PDSA. To enquire about your eligibility phone free on 088 731 2502.

These are just a few suggestions to help. If you have found ways to cut the cost of living with your beloved family pet, then do please share them with other people.

Write to me at the Daily Mews website using the ‘Contact us’ link and I will publish all tips in future issues of the Mewsletter.

©  Pauline Dewberry May 2010


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