Frugal pets – part 1

I’m on a mission to determine exactly what everything we do costs us. I’m starting with the FF cat. I can tell you now that over the years he has cost us a fortune, but pays us back tenfold with love and snuggles 🙂

In 2015 he cost us $1,141.29+ ($488.10 in pet insurance, $486.19 in vet bills (after we claimed on insurance) and $167 in catty hotel bills, plus food which is absorbed in our weekly shopping bills).

Lets start with food. Thankfully, he’s not a fussy cat and mostly eats dry food, although he does like the odd bit of catty milk and wet food which we oblige because he’s very cute and we love him. He will happily eat ‘own brand’ cat food, although I don’t really like it as the bits are all the same colour while the branded food looks like meat (brown) and veg (green, orange). I know, I know – I’m not eating them, the cat likes them, the colour is probably fake anyway….sigh.

So I did some analysis on the cost (thank you, online shopping, I didn’t even have to leave the sofa) and came up with the following, truly fascinating, facts.

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FF cat enjoying his frugal food

Firstly, I compared branded cat food from a supermarket with the same brand bulk-buy from online retailers. The supermarket was cheaper. That’s right, cheaper. And no delivery charge or need to find somewhere to fit a 7kg bag of cat food.

Secondly, I looked at own brand vs. branded (the one starting with a ‘W’ from the supermarket starting with a ‘C’).

  • Own brand: 28c per 100g
  • Branded: 40c per 100g on special OR 50c per 100g normal price

Say the cat ate 100g per day, he would go through around 37kg a year.

  • Own brand: $103.60
  • Branded: $148 – assuming I can always buy them on special, or a whopping $185 if I never bought them on special. Lets split the difference and say $166.50.

We’d save a little over 60 bucks a year buying the own brand cat food.

Pet insurance. It’s not essential and I debate with myself (yes, myself) all the time whether to keep paying for it or not. We have definitely paid more out in insurance premiums than we’ve ever got back in claims. Last year, when FF cat was receiving treatment for a bladder infection he developed because he wouldn’t pee outside in the cold weather (you read that right, he wouldn’t pee outside in the cold weather, ffs) we received a paltry return because the treatment straddled the renewal period, meaning two lots of $100 excess even though it was for the same illness and claimed from the same insurer. Annoyed much. We also didn’t receive anything back for certain types of treatment and medication. Annoyed even more. BUT, we continue to pay it so we don’t have to choose between the cat and finances should he require some very expensive treatments.

Doing my annual cost comparison at renewal time I found that the existing insurance covers both illness and accident/injury, however as our pet is over 9 years old if we were to start a new policy we would only be able to get accident/injury cover – at a third of the price we are currently paying – but not illness. I tried around five different companies, all with the same result. If we want to keep illness cover we have to stay with the same insurer…and premiums are going up by 8.5% every year.

To save money on insurance we could either drop it all together or go for the cheaper accident/injury only cover. The latter would save us around $375 per year. It is a lot of money and definitely something to think about.

Next time…. saving on vet bills and catty hotel visits, and my final decision on frugal options.

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