Photo: Jill Krasny
While the recession has changed the number of trips we make to the doctor, a lot of of us can barely afford the lifetime costs of a cat, which the ASPCA pegs at $7,640.”I think in general the visits have declined all over the country,” says Dr. Gene Pavlovsky, a vet with Banfield hospital in Champaign, Ill. and expert on JustAnswer.com. “People tend to not bring their pets in as frequently, especially for cats.”
As a cat owner, not following preventative care can be the deadliest–and costliest–mistake you’ll ever make.
We’ve tapped some of the best vets around the country to help your kitty stay out of the E.R. and help you save on everyday expenses.
'One of the biggest issues I see is them not brushing their teeth every day,' says Pavlovsky.
Estimated savings: Thousands on tooth extractions; $150 to $200 on check-ups.
Pavlovsky says buying a premium diet isn't as necessary as asking your vet for recommendations.
'Just because it says premium on the label doesn't indicate it's better,' he says.
Also avoid buying into 'grain-free' diets which claim to improve your cat's diet, but are just more expensive than non-grain-free diets.
Estimated savings: $20 to $30 every two weeks for a cat eating three 3 oz. cans of food daily.
Dr. Enrique Borrego, a veterinarian in Port San Lucie, Florida, says treats aren't necessary if the cat is well-fed, but if owners are so inclined, they can offer their cat 'bland chicken, lunch meat, bland meat, or tuna.'
NOTE: Never feed your cat onions of any kind. They're toxic.
Estimated savings: $2 to $7 (depending on the store's region) on Feline Greenies cat treats
'Tuna can contain a lot of salt, mercury, and iodine,' warns Borrego. 'It's OK once in a while, every couple weeks or months, but any food that comprises more than 10% of their regular diet's portion should be avoided.'
Estimated savings: $1 to $1.30 per can, depending on the store's region
'Cats age quicker than we do in six months, so they need a twice-yearly visit to detect any issues,' says Pavlovsky, the Banfield vet.
Cat owners should also bring in their pet when they notice a change in behaviour, lack of appetite, limping, vomiting, diarrhoea, and so on.
'When they're not being themselves, that's frequently the sign of something more serious,' he says.
Estimated savings: Thousands on emergency room costs and tests, plus keeping your cat there overnight.
A variety of over-the-counter herbal and vitamin supplements claim to cure cancer, bladder infection, and other ailments, says Borrego, but these additives can make a condition worse, threatening your kitty's health.
'Ask your vet to research the product through the proper channels' and see if he recommends the product.
Estimated savings: $30 on Only Natural Pet Immune Strengthener pills
Matted hair can build up quickly, getting so close to the skin that causes irritation and infection, says the staff at Petropolis, a pet supply store in New York. If this is not taken care of, you may have to shave the cat's hair, leaving him with a less-than-attractive look.
Grooming your cat every three months will keep his coat clean, shiny, and soft.
Estimated savings: $100 on intense grooming costs
Says Dr. Borrego: 'Most of the emergency instances we see is from the cat getting run over or exposed to a bunch of different viruses and diseases from other cats, especially feline immune deficiency virus.'
Cats kept indoors live longer, he adds, and have less medical problems overall.
'The only problem with indoor cats is that cats are really curious animals and like activity, so make sure to provide places where he can hide and play.'
Estimated savings: Thousands on emergency room costs and tests, plus keeping your cat overnight
Hoarding more cats than members of your household not only smells bad, but could be unhealthy for your cat, says Borrego.
'Too many cats means there's not enough room for them to roam around and play,' he says.
Estimated costs: Thousands on vaccination, neutering/spaying, and other medical costs; your cat's sanity
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