Frugal ways to spoil your favorite feline

Treat Your Cat Like a Queen for Pennies a Day

by Ruth Dawn Lewallen


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In today's world, prices keep getting higher while quality gets lower. Those of us who are owned by cats know this all too well. You used to be able to by a good quality cat food for a reasonable amount of money. As for toys and treats for our furry friends, that was easy. Just let them outside and they found their own toys. Not today!

It's much too dangerous out there for my animals and I have to supply all of their toys or else they find things for themselves. I've looked over the selection at the pet stores and found (like most of us) that most of them are over priced and poorly made. When I do bring one home, my cats ignore them. Well, never fear, I've got some help for you.

The first thing to consider is food. Don't spend cat (or dog) food money on water. By this I mean, forget about the canned food. Now I know how many of you will scream at this. We've had it preached to us for years that you can't feed dry food to a neutered or spayed cat. How it will give them kidney stones and all kinds of problems. I too used to believe that, until I took a careful look at the ash content of good quality dry foods.

Look for yourself! After you subtract the water in canned food, a good quality dry food has less ash and more meat than even a high quality canned food. Even more to the point, I've fed my cats, (one of whom is a 15 year old spay) nothing but Iams cat food for the past 10 years. In all that time I've never had a problem with kidneys. Even better, they all have glossy coats and too much energy.

My vet complains that the only time he sees my animals is for a check up. They never get sick and never have coat problems, (a sure sign of something wrong). The only time they get canned food is for a treat, maybe once a month. The rest of the time it's dry or nothing.

Now I know some of you are moaning, "But my cat won't eat dry food!" Nonsense! Cats may be finicky, but they are practical. Punishing you for not coughing up the goodies might be what they want to do, but never at the cost of their own comfort. When they get hungry they'll eat. They may not let you see them eat it, but they will.

If you doubt me, try this experiment. Don't feed you cat for a day, (don't worry, he wont starve to death, no matter what he says). Then put half a cup of good quality dry cat food out and go away. Come back in a few hours and measure how much food is left. He'll have eaten, he'll still act like he's starving to death, but he's eaten.

Remember to always buy good quality food. By this I mean food that doesn't have pretty colors or fancy shapes. I want my money spent on the content of the food, not the package. There's no sense in being penny wise and pound foolish.

If you want to give your cat a great toy for a small amount of money, it's easy! Save all of your old sweat socks, you know, the fat cotton ones. Stuff the toe of one sock with another one and a pinch of cat nip. Tie a double knot in the sock and get out of kitty's way. He'll roll and kill and rock with that sock until the cat nip gives out.

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Another great cat toy is an empty shoe box with a ping pong ball inside. Cut a few holes just a little too small for the ball to go through and tape the lid on. If you have more than one cat they'll really have fun seeing who gets the round mouse out of his house.

Now a word about cat nip. Getting good fresh cat nip is not as easy as you might think. Try growing your own! You can get the seed at most nursery supply houses and a small pot set outside can give you and your cat plenty. To dry the herb, simply take a sprig and enclose it in a paper bag and hang it upside down, (so the oils flow into the leaves) in a warm dry place. Just remember that free ranging cats will want some so you might put your pot in a cage.

One other thing, not all cats find cat nip attractive. The trait of cat nip addiction is a genetic one and not one that all cats share. If your cat doesn't seem to get the point and you're sure it is good fresh cat nip, there's not much you can do about it.


Ruth is a Professional Kennel Master, (she takes over kennels when the owners want to leave town for a while) for 20 years. She's also a K9 behaviorist and has testified in court both for and against dog owners. She works with problem dogs and does advanced personal protection training. She has 4 cats, one of which is leash trained and is certified as a veterinary EMT both small and large animals.

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