These Paw-some Money-Saving Tips Will Help Your Cat Live Its Best 9 Lives

Josie and her her older cat brother Chucky hang out in their kitchen in St. Petersburg, Fla., on July 20, 2017.
Josie and her her older cat brother Chucky hang out in their kitchen in St. Petersburg, Fla., on July 20, 2017. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder
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When I found my kitty Josie, she was a 4-week-old, 1-pound tumbleweed, rolling across a two-lane highway as cars straddled her.

She hissed when my mom and I approached her and wrapped her in a blanket. Her little lip was bleeding, and her baby furs were laced with fleas.

Now, her 5-pound self runs the house. She keeps our dogs in line and treats our overweight senior cat like a giant toy — one she picks on, then cuddles up with five minutes later.

I joke that she’s preparing me for kids one day — and it’s halfway true.

She requires lots of attention, clean up and money.

Yup, I’m quickly learning how expensive pets can be — between the vet bills, the flea medicine, the food and the toys (which aren’t totally necessary, but ya know).

In the spirit of Josie, here are some ways to save money on your feline friend. And really, many of these can be applied to your K-9 friend, too.

1. Get Cash-Back Offers on Anything and Everything

You might have used Ibotta, a cash-back app, on your last grocery run, or even during a night out at the bars.

But you can also get cash-back on pet supplies — both in stores and online

Here’s how to find these offers:

  • Choose your favorite retailer. It might be Publix, Walmart or Whole Foods.
  • Navigate over to the “Pet” category. This makes it easy to single out your needs.
  • Find cash-back offers on everything from $1 back on four Purina’s Fancy Feast Creamy Delights, 25 cents back on Meow Mix treats or 25 cents back on any brand of canned cat food.

If you prefer avoiding the stores and do all your shopping on Amazon, there’s also a specific 3% cash-back deal on pet supplies. You can find anything, from a cat harness and leash to a water drinking fountain.

Keep in mind that quality food will help keep your cat healthy. Be sure to do some research — and avoid unnecessary vet bills. (See No. 3.)

2. Check for Coupons Online

Before you buy anything, always check for coupons.

Ebates houses a ton. If you want to get right to the point, just search “Pets.”

There, you’ll find cash-back and coupon offers.

Here are a few examples of what was available from PetSmart when I wrote this article:

  • Earn 3% cash back when you order online and pick up at the store.
  • Snag 20% off and 3% cash back on your first prescription order.
  • Get 20% off your first order with its AutoShip program and free shipping — plus 3% cash back and $5 off all other orders.

Deals are also available for Petco. These are always changing, so keep your eyes peeled for new offers.

Penny Hoarder writer Carson Kohler holds her kitten Josie at her home in St. Petersburg, Fla. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder
Penny Hoarder writer Carson Kohler holds her kitten Josie at her home in St. Petersburg, Fla. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

3. Consider Getting Pet Insurance

Cat catch a cold? Eat something it shouldn’t have? Get hurt while playing too hard?

It’s bound to happen, so you might as well be prepared.

I recently looked into pet insurance. You pay a monthly premium, and once you hit your annual deductible, your plan kicks in. You can pick and choose which plan works best for your needs.

For example, Kristen Lynch, the executive director of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), received a $2,000 vet bill when her dog was attacked in the park. Her deductible was $350, and her co-insurance was 20%, so she got $1,320 of that $2,000 bill back.

The average cost for pet insurance is $16 a month, according to Consumer Reports.

We already compared a few options for you.

4. Save Money on Spaying, Neutering and Vaccinating

Josie just got spayed. We thought she’d come home drowsy and exhausted.


She was more hyped up than ever before. She pulled her little cone off within a few minutes, and she didn’t tucker out for several hours.

Anyway, this is an integral part to pet parenthood. If you’re struggling to afford the expense, check nonprofits in your area. Many times, you can save a ton by taking your pet by a spay/neuter clinic at your local ASPCA, for example.

Just type in your zip code to find a location near you.

5. Make Your Own Cat Toys

I’ve bought so many toys to keep Josie busy these past few months, but she always seems most intrigued by the generic, free items around the house — like thread or grocery bags.

Rather than splurging on boutique cat toys, consider making your own.

You’ll want to be careful as to not expose your cat to anything harmful, so here are nine DIY projects to get you started. (You’ll find the dog version of this post over here.)

6. Do the Math on Litter — or Potty-Train Your Cat…?

Litter isn’t cheap. It racks up your grocery bill just as much as the food can.

Consider saving money by buying it in bulk. But don’t worry about lugging it from shelf to cart to car to home. You can buy it online through a site like Chewy.

For example, Ever Clean Extra Strength Premium Clumping Cat Litter, which is what Josie uses, costs $23.39 on Chewy, a $4.60 savings.

Plus, you can save even more when you opt in for auto-shipments, then you’re never scrambling to the pet store because your fluff ball doesn’t have a pot to pee in.

You’ll save 20% off your order when you set that up.

If you want to go all out and potty train your cat, we’ve actually got some tips for that.

7. Save on Flea/Tick Treatment

You’ll want to be sure to ask your vet about the best treatment plan for your little one, but once you do, be sure to shop around. The medicine at the vet tends to be a little more expensive.

Try searching online. I found Josie’s treatment on Amazon. It’s Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Control for Cats and Kittens. For a three-month supply, it’s $31.99. It’s usually something like $15 to $20 for a single treatment from our vet.

Plus, you can order this stuff on Prime and get it the next day. (Because it’s something I always forget until the day I need it.)

Bonus: If you don’t have Prime, be sure to get a good deal on the service.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Tweet at her with all your pawsome money-saving hacks.