Cutting the Cost of Your Cat Shopping
It’s easy to see cats as a ‘cheap’ pet that don’t require too much to keep them happy. To a certain degree it’s true: give them a scratching post, a couple of toys and some bedding and they’ll often be perfectly happy – as long as they’re getting a good helping of love too. However, as I showed in ‘Considering a cat? Consider the costs’, owning a cat is far from a cheap business. I estimated the annual costs for our household at averaging over £600 per cat – and we already take several steps to cut our costs or it could be considerably higher.
So, what can you do to make sure that you’re not spending more than you need to?
- Buy products online. Many products can be bought substantially cheaper online. In some cases, a company may have both a retail store and an online store with different prices (and guess which one is cheaper?). You can also use discount vouchers online, bringing prices down even more. Useful online stores include PetPlanet and PetSupermarket. PetsAtHome also have an online presence. Consider signing up to a cashback site such as Quidco. You could save around 5% on your purchases. Over the course of a year, that can really add up, especially if you’re buying for more than one animal.
- Buy in bulk. Many online stores will offer free delivery if you spend more than £30. If you’re buying food and medication, buy for several weeks/months at a time so you qualify for the free delivery option.
- Shop around for flea and worming products. Although it’s convenient to collect them at the vet surgery, it can often work out more expensive. After all, the vet surgery will be buying in much lower quantities than a huge online retailer or pet store, so may have to pay more for the products themselves. Sites like PetMeds offer good discounts on products like Frontline, particularly if you buy the six-packs (around £18). Drontal also works out very well – around £1.50 a tablet. Check with your surgery though – some offer better discounts than others and if the prices are reasonable you may prefer to give your business to the local surgery.
- Take advantage of offers when buying food. We use 49 pouches of cat food a week or a staggering 2548 a year! If we just bought food as and when we needed it at full price (say £4 for a 12 pack of pouches) we would spend almost £850 a year on pouches alone. The same goes for biscuits: we use almost a kilo of biscuits a week or 49 kilos a year. Again, if we just bought it as we used at full price (around £8 for 1.5 kg of Iams), we would spend around £262 on biscuits. Instead, we buy in bulk when prices are good, meaning we average around £2.50 for 12 pouches (saving around £320 a year). We do the same with Iams, averaging around £3.33 a kilo and saving around £100. It gets very complicated, as our cats eat different things but with a bit of management you can do it – and it’s worth it to save over £400! Take advantage of BOGOF, 3 for 2, or 2 for £xx deals.
- Sign up to mailing lists. You’d be amazed how often companies send out discount codes for 10-20% off orders. If you’re always buying ahead, then you can take advantage of these offers, stock up and wait for the next time they come around to do it all again. If you’re buying hundreds of pounds worth of food or medication across a year, these discounts really make a difference.
The big question is does it really work? It’s easy to look at these things and think of the savings in the amount of a few pennies, rather than anything more substantial. So, let’s break it down:
- I said we saved around £420 a year bulk buying food. We also buy our biscuits online through Quidco, getting 5% discount (so around £8). Total saving = £428
- We buy Frontline and Drontal online and receive 5% cashback (about £8). We probably save about £70 buying it online. Total saving = £78
- We buy lots of toys and treats in one go and then just give them to the cats little by little as they get through them. Again, we buy online as it’s cheaper and get cashback of around 5%. Total saving = £10.
That’s £516 straight off the bat, not even considering discount vouchers or the difference saved by shopping online versus the high street. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was actually upwards of £600 once those things were factored in. That’s for four cats but even for just one, a saving of £150 a year goes a long way.