Author Topic: Mustachian Pet Ownership  (Read 9037 times)

Vale

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Mustachian Pet Ownership
« on: March 17, 2015, 07:11:54 AM »
Do any of you have pets? How do you keep the costs down? I'm asking out of curiosity, because I'm currently working at a nice pet store and I see so many people spending ridiculous amounts for their pets every month (or more often). And it's not even just the people who buy Fluffy cute dog sweaters, some people come in only for food, maybe toys.. it adds up really quickly. I was also curious because I wanted to have a cat in the future but I keep thinking about the upfront and long-term costs. How can one enjoy having animal companions while keeping costs down?

benjenn

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2015, 07:23:05 AM »
I love animals and have had many pets over the years but I LOVE being pet-free.  We don't have any of the expenses you mentioned -- care, foot, vet bills.  We also never come home to surprises - chewed up shoes, destroyed furniture, bodily function clean ups.  If we take walks, it's only for our enjoyment.  And when we want to pick up and go somewhere, no worries about boarding or finding a sitter.  We just go!

I've got plenty of friends with pets... many of whom spend ridiculous amounts of money on their animals.  I'll just enjoy time with their pets whenever I need an animal fix.  Plus, there's always the option of offering to pet sit, or walk dogs, etc., part time when we're retired.  That seems like the best of both worlds to me.

caliq

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2015, 07:34:32 AM »
My dogs cost me at least $150/month in food, meds, and chew bones-- which are a requirement because the puppy has serious separation anxiety and has to be distracted with yummy things when we crate him to leave the house (they are very big...).

My cat costs like $15/month.  So, your cat-only plan sounds pretty awesome in terms of finances.  Granted, he is still quite young and we haven't had any medical issues whatsoever -- we don't even vaccinate him or use flea meds on him regularly, because he's a strictly indoor cat.  Cats are, in general, a lot easier on the wallet than dogs.

benjenn, basically all of your issues with surprises can be solved by crate training (can't really stop bodily function accidents, except that crating prevents them from eating stuff they shouldn't be)...and who wouldn't enjoy a walk with their dog?  :/

pwegifts

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2015, 07:38:32 AM »
I would highly recommend pet insurance.  After my wife and I got married, we got a springer spaniel puppy in 2012.  Perfectly healthy and loving dog.  When we still lived in Wisconsin this past August, he mysteriously contracted a fungal infection called Blastomycosis.  Again, he is only three years old.  Within a week, it attacked his eyes and he went completely blind.  Had to have surgery to remove one eye, and up until last week, he was on a combination of anti-fungals (expensive) and meds to kill the infection.  Finally got the all clear last week, but no idea how he got the infection in the first place.

So factoring all the vet visits, checkups, blood tests, surgery, meds, etc the last few months have cost between 5k-6k.

Luckily he is in the clear and is a perfectly happy dog again (just blind), so he should have many more years being our family companion especially with our kids.

If we ever get another dog, the first thing we are getting is pet insurance because of the unforseen bills that rack up quickly.

MishMash

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2015, 07:38:55 AM »
We have 4, 2 cats, 2 dogs, all rescues.  The cats are cheaper, cost about a dollar a day in food, litter, neighbor watching on vacations plus a couple hundred for shots each year.  So all totaled about 600 bucks a year for 2 of them and we feed them expensive grain free dry food, if you can get away with the cheaper foods it's less expensive.  Their toys consist of boxes and tin foil balls; seriously, to one of them, a box is like an eternal spring of entertainment from which he can sleep, ambush me or the dogs, sit in and look like he doesn't give a fuck about the world, or contemplate killing us all in our sleep (which I'm fairly certain is what he does most of the time).

Now the dogs...holy crap are they expensive.  One has health problems and is on specialty foods and meds AND has to be consistently shaved in hot months otherwise he overheats terribly.  The other one isn't so bad, but considering how much she chews up crap is probably going to cost me a ton in surgery one day. 

The intangibles are worth it to us, they are the destressers and the teddy bears when my husband is gone for months at a time, they force me to get out of the house and interact with people.  The health wreck is a people magnet, he looks like a 90lb bear and people insist on petting him, Japanese tourists in DC routinely ask to take pictures with him for some reason I still can't figure out, so that forces me to interact and go outside when I may be feeling stressed or lonely.  I've made friends with neighbors and strangers with their help, which is huge since we move all the time.  I don't think we'll get another dog when these two go though, at least not until the travelling is done, the boarding is ridiculously expensive.

MLKnits

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2015, 07:40:08 AM »
Having one young cat cost me, at most, $40/m in litter, food, long-lasting toys, and the annual vet visit. Much of the time it was even less than that, particularly since I adopted him already fixed and with all his shots (unlike my dog, who needed a spay and a lot of catch-up vet care). In addition, I could easily put down a bucket of water and a big bowl of food and go away for the weekend, and he was chill about it. Perfect bachelor pet.

Having two cats and a dog ... that's a lot less mustachian. I'm not sure the second cat, in particular, was a great call, although I will say that I love that there's always something happening in my apartment, ranging from "cute animal curled up in the sunlight" to "lots of funny roughhousing." It's a bit like living in an aquarium: always something to watch!

Dogs are harder to do on the cheap, but on the other hand they get you outside and moving, at least if you don't have a fenced backyard to lazily send them out into. And a smaller dog (before it hits the point where their skeletons are too small for their organs and they're just tiny bundles of medical problems--let's say 15 lbs and up) eats less, requires smaller doses of medication, can't be as destructive, etc.

rubybeth

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2015, 07:43:02 AM »
I think people grossly underestimate the cost of a large dog vs. the much lower costs of a small dog. I asked my mom and sister about this, because they each have 20 lbs. dachshunds. They estimate spending about $50 on a bag of dog food every few months, plus some chew treats for dental health each month, maybe $10 a bag (my mom usually watches for sales and stocks up). A package of tennis balls every few months is all the entertainment one of them needs in terms of toys. Small dogs also are less hassle for other people to take when you travel, if that's a concern. Getting a breed that won't require grooming or have known major medical issues (or a mixed breed) would also keep costs down.

Also, HUGE BENEFIT OF SMALL DOGS: small poops. Seriously. A 20 lb. dog only eats about a cup of food a day, so you do the math.

The other consideration with cats is that many people are allergic. I am severely allergic to cats, so won't visit friends who have them.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2015, 07:47:53 AM »
Except a few emergency vet bills, my dog isn't that expensive.  Because we don't accessorize her.
She's had one collar for 8 years, we wash it when we wash her.  She has had one leash.
She has no clothing, except some booties for when her feet get cut up in the winter on the ice/salt- they cost $8 and have lasted 5 years.

She doesn't have many toys. She goes through a 99 cent rope about once every 6 months.

We don't give her treats very often, she gets fed 1/2 cup of food 3 times a day and is more than happy to get that- why give her something else?

The flea/tick/heartworm meds aren't that expensive. 

We groom her ourselves- baths and nail trimmings.
Now that we have a neighbor who can watch her, we don't even have to board her when we go on vacation and can't take her. 

It just isn't that much- her companionship is worth way more than what we spend on her.

pancakes

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2015, 07:49:44 AM »
I have a cat and I love her. I wouldn't give her up for the world.

She only has a couple of toys and a scratching post but looking after her food and poop needs does cost money. We don't buy into other stuff though but I can see that it is easy to do.

I do have to admit that we buy expensive food for her. I don't feel like I can trust vets/pet store staff because they all get kick backs from pet food companies but at the same time I don't want to feed her rubbish, and those people are excellent at placing seeds of doubt in your mind. I don't even really understand what a cat needs from their food.

Kris

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2015, 07:50:40 AM »

My cat costs like $15/month.  So, your cat-only plan sounds pretty awesome in terms of finances.  Granted, he is still quite young and we haven't had any medical issues whatsoever -- we don't even vaccinate him or use flea meds on him regularly, because he's a strictly indoor cat.  Cats are, in general, a lot easier on the wallet than dogs.


Just a word about vaccination of indoor cats: I think it is still a good idea to do so.  Indoor cats can still come into contact with animals, such as mice and bats, who spread disease.  I hadn't been vaccinating my cat until a bat got into the house and he killed it, breaking the skin, of course.  I realized that he could have gotten rabies from the bat and started freaking.  I changed my mind about vaccinating indoor cats after that.

benjenn

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2015, 07:53:19 AM »
benjenn, basically all of your issues with surprises can be solved by crate training (can't really stop bodily function accidents, except that crating prevents them from eating stuff they shouldn't be)...and who wouldn't enjoy a walk with their dog?  :/

I've always felt like keeping a dog in a crate all day was a little mean, to be honest.  I know it avoids the destruction but it doesn't seem like much of a way to live to me.  Of course, if I were retired, that wouldn't be much of an issue... as it is now, I'm gone for about 9-10 hours a day during the week.  And as for enjoying a walk with their dog... well, I don't know.  Most of the people I see out walking their dogs spend a lot of time picking up poop!  That doesn't seem like fun.  And it's not so much walking the dog... it's the HAVING to walk the dog.  The responsibility of it.  Getting rid of responsibilities is one of the things I like most about the idea of retiring... I really wouldn't want to add any responsibilities to my life.

I realize I'm probably in the minority... most people I know seem to have pets.  And those who do always seem to be really sad for those of us who don't since we're missing out on it.  Heck, at one time we had two dogs, two cats and a hamster.  Been there, done that.  Happy to have it behind me.  Sort of like being happy the kids are grown and gone, too, I guess.  :)  LOL.

caliq

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2015, 07:55:14 AM »

My cat costs like $15/month.  So, your cat-only plan sounds pretty awesome in terms of finances.  Granted, he is still quite young and we haven't had any medical issues whatsoever -- we don't even vaccinate him or use flea meds on him regularly, because he's a strictly indoor cat.  Cats are, in general, a lot easier on the wallet than dogs.


Just a word about vaccination of indoor cats: I think it is still a good idea to do so.  Indoor cats can still come into contact with animals, such as mice and bats, who spread disease.  I hadn't been vaccinating my cat until a bat got into the house and he killed it, breaking the skin, of course.  I realized that he could have gotten rabies from the bat and started freaking.  I changed my mind about vaccinating indoor cats after that.

That is a good point, and not something I'd really thought of before.  This is our first year with the dogs, and he did get vaccinated last year because we were bringing new animals into the house, so maybe I'll continue it.  I think his rabies shot is good for at least 3 years -- I'll have to look into that.  Thanks!

neophyte

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2015, 07:57:18 AM »
My cat has been pretty cheap, granted my roommate and I split the cost.

She showed up on our porch pregnant in the middle of a snowstorm last year and invited herself in.  We couldn't find an owner so her kitty abortion + spay + rabies vaccine + feline leukemia test came to about $70 at a low cost clinic. Other than that, my half of food and litter is probably only about $10/ month.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2015, 08:04:58 AM »
benjenn, basically all of your issues with surprises can be solved by crate training (can't really stop bodily function accidents, except that crating prevents them from eating stuff they shouldn't be)...and who wouldn't enjoy a walk with their dog?  :/

I've always felt like keeping a dog in a crate all day was a little mean, to be honest.  I know it avoids the destruction but it doesn't seem like much of a way to live to me.  Of course, if I were retired, that wouldn't be much of an issue... as it is now, I'm gone for about 9-10 hours a day during the week.  And as for enjoying a walk with their dog... well, I don't know.  Most of the people I see out walking their dogs spend a lot of time picking up poop!  That doesn't seem like fun.  And it's not so much walking the dog... it's the HAVING to walk the dog.  The responsibility of it.  Getting rid of responsibilities is one of the things I like most about the idea of retiring... I really wouldn't want to add any responsibilities to my life.

I realize I'm probably in the minority... most people I know seem to have pets.  And those who do always seem to be really sad for those of us who don't since we're missing out on it.  Heck, at one time we had two dogs, two cats and a hamster.  Been there, done that.  Happy to have it behind me.  Sort of like being happy the kids are grown and gone, too, I guess.  :)  LOL.

I get the walking thing. We have two dogs and I love them to death. We walk them every day and I really do enjoy walking with them, and we are rarely picking up poop on the walk (the one will pretty much only poop in our yard, the other poops once per 30-45 minute walk). But at the same time, there are plenty of days when you just REALLY DON'T WANT to have to walk the dogs. LOL.

NumberCruncher

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2015, 08:06:13 AM »
In my experience, cats are generally cheaper, but more prone to destructive tendencies (mostly clawing behaviors).

We have a large dog and have spent an ungodly amount on vet bills (half of that emergency surgery for bloat), plus he's on a needed supplement that costs $100/mo (cheapest we've found, through the vet it costs $20-$40 more). Besides rent, his care is our largest expenditure by far. We love him and will do what's best for him, but most likely will not be getting another pet for a long time after he eventually leaves us. And even then...we may just get a cat or a small short-haired dog. We do the grooming, spend very little on toys...it's just that the big costs are veterinary.

This can give you a general idea of how much cats cost to care for: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=1+2137&aid=1542

Some tips:
(1) Get the right vet. You don't want a vet that always pushes for the most expensive treatment option because it might have a marginally higher chance of success, but you also don't want a vet that cuts corners in things like bloodwork before surgery, etc. Look at reviews online, maybe call a few places for general information/costs.
(2) For a cat, you might want to look into something like a combination of nail trimming and nail caps to stop clawing of your favorite upholstery, curtains, or doors. NEVER DECLAW - it's just bad. Pain, behavioral issues, yeah, no.
(3) If you're handy or crafty, you can make a lot of the things people spend $$ on - cat perches or shelves, toys. Relatively minor, cost-wise, but you can get custom stuff in a style you like, plus maybe even gain some skills
(4) Trade pet sitting with a friend, or otherwise trade favors with friends or neighbors so you don't have to spend $$$ on boarding.

yandz

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2015, 08:15:39 AM »
We have two dogs (each had one when we met, so married into two) and spend an average of $140/mo once you include all the vet bills (including a recent emergency).  We feed high quality food, we don't do "treats" we just use their kibble if needed.  We don't have toy destroyers, so they last forever and I just wash/dry to keep them from being nasty. No clothing, same leashes/collars until they wear out (rare), etc.  Is owning dogs good for saving money? No.  But we love 'em. 

We likely won't ever own two dogs on purpose in the future and may not even own one for a while. Guessing end of life for our loves will be right around when we retire, so we will probably travel for a while before adopting another.


kyanamerinas

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2015, 08:25:40 AM »
(3) If you're handy or crafty, you can make a lot of the things people spend $$ on - cat perches or shelves, toys. Relatively minor, cost-wise, but you can get custom stuff in a style you like, plus maybe even gain some skills

totally agree, we just made a scratching board for our cat out of leftover carpet scraps glued to leftover skirting board and nailed to the wall. she loves it and we hope it will prevent any furniture scratching. we might need to make another for the lounge as the current one is in 'her' room upstairs (she's new and we're using the spare room to settle her in).

I'm a red panda

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2015, 08:26:13 AM »

I get the walking thing. We have two dogs and I love them to death. We walk them every day and I really do enjoy walking with them, and we are rarely picking up poop on the walk (the one will pretty much only poop in our yard, the other poops once per 30-45 minute walk). But at the same time, there are plenty of days when you just REALLY DON'T WANT to have to walk the dogs. LOL.

My dog has never pooped on a walk :)

And we don't walk her everyday. In the winter, she might get a walk a month. She doesn't want to be outside anymore than we do.  Instead, we make sure to have active play inside- fetching a rope or wrestling or something. 

Retire-Canada

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2015, 08:27:32 AM »
I was also curious because I wanted to have a cat in the future but I keep thinking about the upfront and long-term costs. How can one enjoy having animal companions while keeping costs down?

I rescued my cat because its owner was lame.

Cat stays inside which is healthier for it and reduces vet bills substantially. We do take it for leashed play sessions in the backyard in summer...the rest of the time it lives indoors.

My main costs are cat litter and food. I don't try and save money on either to be honest.

On the litter end I've found something that works well for the cat and for me so I'm not messing with it to save a few bucks. In fact I recently moved to a litter box that is twice as large for the cat which she is a lot happier with.

Definitely added to my operating costs, but I can tell she appreciates that change.

You can teach your cat to use the toilet if you are motivated that would eliminate the cost of litter.

http://www.citikitty.com/

Or teach the cat to go outside...but be ready for an angry neighbour!

For food I buy the cat high quality dry and wet food just like I do for myself. I vary the brand/flavour so the cat gets some variety and to ensure there are no dietary deficiencies.

I could cut back on food costs by shopping sales more aggressively and looking for the best price/value options.

At the moment the cost of owning the cat is so low relative to my other expenses [ie. cellphone/internet] and the enjoyment from the cat is so high I'm not motivated to spend more energy optimizing this part of my life.

Once I start downshifting at work I may get interested in looking for lower cost litter and food that I and my cat are both happy with.

-- Vik

caliq

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2015, 08:30:54 AM »
benjenn, basically all of your issues with surprises can be solved by crate training (can't really stop bodily function accidents, except that crating prevents them from eating stuff they shouldn't be)...and who wouldn't enjoy a walk with their dog?  :/

I've always felt like keeping a dog in a crate all day was a little mean, to be honest.  I know it avoids the destruction but it doesn't seem like much of a way to live to me.  Of course, if I were retired, that wouldn't be much of an issue... as it is now, I'm gone for about 9-10 hours a day during the week.  And as for enjoying a walk with their dog... well, I don't know.  Most of the people I see out walking their dogs spend a lot of time picking up poop!  That doesn't seem like fun.  And it's not so much walking the dog... it's the HAVING to walk the dog.  The responsibility of it.  Getting rid of responsibilities is one of the things I like most about the idea of retiring... I really wouldn't want to add any responsibilities to my life.

I realize I'm probably in the minority... most people I know seem to have pets.  And those who do always seem to be really sad for those of us who don't since we're missing out on it.  Heck, at one time we had two dogs, two cats and a hamster.  Been there, done that.  Happy to have it behind me.  Sort of like being happy the kids are grown and gone, too, I guess.  :)  LOL.

Yep, that's way too long for crating - it would be mean ;)  My dogs are alone for <5 hours a week, usually split into 2 time blocks.  And one of them still has crate issues, but that's more due to his very early life (he's a rescue) than the actual crating we do now.  They're SUPER spoiled since DH is home all the time.  And we're SUPER spoiled by having a half-fenced yard for pottying (so, it's not out in the front lawn and people don't walk through it...we're totally fine with letting nature take it's course out in that area...). 


Lis

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2015, 08:52:05 AM »
I grew up with both cats and dogs, and I couldn't imagine not having a pet. I currently have two cats that cost me about $40/month between litter and food. I've bought them toys, but they're favorite things are hard plastic caps from milk containers and plastic bags (and anything filled with catnip). My vet threw me through a loop last November and I was an idiot who couldn't say no and spent just under $500 between the two of them (vaccines, 'elder' exams, poop examination, frickin ear cleaner). That could have been dwindled WAAAAY down had I done my own research and found a cheaper vet. Probably under $100. Yes, I'm still kicking myself for that one.

Mustachianism is about decreasing what you spend without decreasing your quality of life. For some people, pets are meh. For me and many others, pets greatly improve my quality of life. They are worth sooooo much more than the $40/month I spend on them.

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2015, 09:05:29 AM »
As far as pets we have one dog, a house cat and three barn cats.  We have a country farm vet who comes out and does the rabies vaccine.  I worked at a vet clinic and so I give other vaccines myself such as DTAP.  We spend $40 a month on average for food.  The barn cats get really cheap food and the house cat gets Science Diet.  Our dog is 140 lbs.  He gets a natural food that seems like a good balance between cost effective and healthy.  I used dogfoodadvisor.com to help find a food for him.  He also get organ meat and eggs from the farm occasionally.  We had one large vet bill for our dog for surgery after being shot.  It was around $1,500.  I don't think that our pets cost us too much.  They also all serve a purpose.  The cats keep away mice and are companions.  The dog is a great companion and guards chickens and humans.

Mr. Green

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #22 on: March 17, 2015, 10:43:49 AM »
I currently have two cats. As much as I love them, I probably won't have any pets ever again. Both of them are now 10 years old and are starting to have health issues. One cat in particular has had urinary tract issues (which is very common in cats) every 4-6 months for almost the last 2 years. It has reached a point where we aren't willing to shell out big money to vets anymore, knowing it's going to happen again some months from now. My wife and I have spent many a night agonizing over the thought of putting the cat down. It's hard when a few hundred will makes things better (temporarily) as opposed to a several thousand dollar bill that is an instant deal breaker for most.

If you're considering a pet, know how you're going to handle this. For us, the notion of expensive, continuing care is at odds with our desire to FIRE and live frugally. There is no way to know how an pet will age when you pick up a puppy or a kitten. If you think you couldn't make the hard decision and you have mustachian goals, pet ownership might not be for you.

Stachetastic

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2015, 12:43:17 PM »
I think people grossly underestimate the cost of a large dog vs. the much lower costs of a small dog. I asked my mom and sister about this, because they each have 20 lbs. dachshunds. They estimate spending about $50 on a bag of dog food every few months, plus some chew treats for dental health each month, maybe $10 a bag (my mom usually watches for sales and stocks up). A package of tennis balls every few months is all the entertainment one of them needs in terms of toys. Small dogs also are less hassle for other people to take when you travel, if that's a concern. Getting a breed that won't require grooming or have known major medical issues (or a mixed breed) would also keep costs down.

Also, HUGE BENEFIT OF SMALL DOGS: small poops. Seriously. A 20 lb. dog only eats about a cup of food a day, so you do the math.

The other consideration with cats is that many people are allergic. I am severely allergic to cats, so won't visit friends who have them.

+1 

We have a Boston Terrier (see avatar) who is about 20lbs. A $20 bag of dog food lasts her two months, she wears a leather hand me down collar from our old dog that passed away, and she doesn't like dog toys. We have one coat for her that is also a hand me down. She goes to the vet once per year for her shots. We trim her nails and bathe her as needed. We even got her for free!* (She was at a humane society for such a short time that the lady running the place offered her to us for free. We made a donation anyway)

When we travel, my brother keeps the dog for free, and we reciprocate for them. On average, I would estimate our dog costs us around $200 per year. Cheaper than therapy, and worth every penny.

southern granny

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2015, 12:57:23 PM »
Those are the same people who are spending crazy amounts of money on everything else in their life.  There are expenses with having a pet, but to me they are worth the cost.  My dog costs me about $50 dollars a month for heartworm meds and food and snacks.  Once a year there is a $200 vet visit for check up and vaccines.  He is almost 11, so we may be looking at higher vet bills in the next few years. But for 11 years of devotion and love, I will pay the costs as long as they don't get crazy high.  When they do, we will let him go.

Quark

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #25 on: March 17, 2015, 01:01:31 PM »
I currently have two cats. As much as I love them, I probably won't have any pets ever again. Both of them are now 10 years old and are starting to have health issues. One cat in particular has had urinary tract issues (which is very common in cats) every 4-6 months for almost the last 2 years. It has reached a point where we aren't willing to shell out big money to vets anymore, knowing it's going to happen again some months from now. My wife and I have spent many a night agonizing over the thought of putting the cat down. It's hard when a few hundred will makes things better (temporarily) as opposed to a several thousand dollar bill that is an instant deal breaker for most.

If you're considering a pet, know how you're going to handle this. For us, the notion of expensive, continuing care is at odds with our desire to FIRE and live frugally. There is no way to know how an pet will age when you pick up a puppy or a kitten. If you think you couldn't make the hard decision and you have mustachian goals, pet ownership might not be for you.

Have you changed your cat's diet to a more natural grain free? 10 years old is not very old for a cat. I once had a cat live to be 23! It also sounds like it needs more wet food with more moisture and less dry food which can cause these issues.

MishMash

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #26 on: March 17, 2015, 01:10:28 PM »
I currently have two cats. As much as I love them, I probably won't have any pets ever again. Both of them are now 10 years old and are starting to have health issues. One cat in particular has had urinary tract issues (which is very common in cats) every 4-6 months for almost the last 2 years. It has reached a point where we aren't willing to shell out big money to vets anymore, knowing it's going to happen again some months from now. My wife and I have spent many a night agonizing over the thought of putting the cat down. It's hard when a few hundred will makes things better (temporarily) as opposed to a several thousand dollar bill that is an instant deal breaker for most.

If you're considering a pet, know how you're going to handle this. For us, the notion of expensive, continuing care is at odds with our desire to FIRE and live frugally. There is no way to know how an pet will age when you pick up a puppy or a kitten. If you think you couldn't make the hard decision and you have mustachian goals, pet ownership might not be for you.

Have you changed your cat's diet to a more natural grain free? 10 years old is not very old for a cat. I once had a cat live to be 23! It also sounds like it needs more wet food with more moisture and less dry food which can cause these issues.

+1, that's why our cats are getting a more expensive dry food, UTI's and puking issues, I switched them to a really good food and haven't had an issue in a year and a half (and it used to be weekly puking and bi monthly UTI's on them when we fed them Science Diet).  Their coats are nicer and they are more playful now too.

jeromedawg

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #27 on: March 17, 2015, 01:27:27 PM »
I just signed up to volunteer at my local shelter, which happens to be a very nice shelter. There are also foster opportunities. Since I've never owned a dog or cat before, I think this will be a really good way to get my feet wet and better understand how to properly care for one if I ever decide to adopt or rescue. I'd very much like to but there's too much going on right now for us and I think it could end up being very difficult at least right now. We've done some dog-sitting for my wife's cousin and she was well-trained and well-behaved, but that was a pretty limited engagement (from weeks to no more than a couple months at a time).

ash7962

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2015, 01:31:16 PM »
Just adding another brief cautionary tale to provide more food for thought.  Cats can be very expensive.
I adopted 2 cats at 2 months old which is super young for a kitten to be separated from its mother, but I didn't know any better at the time.  One suffered from liver failure a month or so post adoption and after a month or so of expensive tests trying to save the poor little guy he finally died.  The other has also had health issues for most of her life which requires expensive high quality food and some intestinal lube (lol, yep its a thing).  Once we got her health issues ironed out she became a much more active kitty and started hunting me at night.  She'd pounce on my head and play bite my face almost every night.  Not very painful but also not something great to wake up to all the time.  To solve that one I doubled down and got a 2nd kitty to be the 1st one's playmate which thankfully solved the remaining large issues.  The 2nd time around I was also a bit smarter about adopting so he didn't have any health issues, but he still increased my pet related expenses.  I do love the little furballs, but I am not sure I will adopt cats again.

So, my advice would be, if you do get a cat then don't adopt one that's super young no matter how cute they look.  A slightly older cat 6mo+ is likely to already have made their health issues known (not counting old age health issues here).  I'd say even 1 yr old is better since they're still super cute and act like silly kittens but they've had time to develop and show any issues.  Same idea for animal personality too.  Some cats are totally fine being alone, but some just do not do well as a single kitty especially if you work all day.  Hopefully at 6-12mo the adoption agency you are talking with will report any medical or behavioral issues to you when you inquire about a kitty.

MMMaybe

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #29 on: March 17, 2015, 05:59:23 PM »
We feed our cat high quality, high protein dry food and wet food. He doesn't eat as much of it as he does cheaper food, which shows that he is more satisfied. I am paying quite a lot for his food (approx $40 a month) but we are living in a developing country right now. I could probably move him onto a raw meat diet in Australia, when I live there again or bulk in bulk there. For cat litter, I literally buy whatever clumping litter is available as we don't get much choice here.

But we rarely go to the vet, except for his shots and he doesn't have any fancy toys. A few ratty old balls that I bought at the dollar store. His current favourite is a cardboard box that came with a small appliance. The scratchmat is a ugly doormat that I found in a market here.

I guess its not the most Mustachian thing to have a pet. But there really is no price that you can put on having a giant ball of fur roaming around your house, providing amusement and affection :)

We would not take extraordinary measures though if he got sick. We would do daily meds and routine care but if he gets something seriously which reduces his quality of life, we would put him to sleep. I hope he lives to 23 and is fit and healthy the whole time but you never know.




zurich78

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #30 on: March 17, 2015, 07:32:17 PM »
benjenn, basically all of your issues with surprises can be solved by crate training (can't really stop bodily function accidents, except that crating prevents them from eating stuff they shouldn't be)...and who wouldn't enjoy a walk with their dog?  :/

I've always felt like keeping a dog in a crate all day was a little mean, to be honest.  I know it avoids the destruction but it doesn't seem like much of a way to live to me.  Of course, if I were retired, that wouldn't be much of an issue... as it is now, I'm gone for about 9-10 hours a day during the week.  And as for enjoying a walk with their dog... well, I don't know.  Most of the people I see out walking their dogs spend a lot of time picking up poop!  That doesn't seem like fun.  And it's not so much walking the dog... it's the HAVING to walk the dog.  The responsibility of it.  Getting rid of responsibilities is one of the things I like most about the idea of retiring... I really wouldn't want to add any responsibilities to my life.

I realize I'm probably in the minority... most people I know seem to have pets.  And those who do always seem to be really sad for those of us who don't since we're missing out on it.  Heck, at one time we had two dogs, two cats and a hamster.  Been there, done that.  Happy to have it behind me.  Sort of like being happy the kids are grown and gone, too, I guess.  :)  LOL.

I agree with you about crating.  Not to say it is bad, but people take the "it's their den, they do this in nature" thing too far.  Never have I seen or heard of a dog confined to its den.  Sure, it goes there by choice when it feels like it but never locked in by no choice of their own.

In any event, I have a dog and I find while there are costs, they live a perfectly mustachian life.  They just want to be with their loved ones and do not care for material things.  Plus, for me, I enjoy spending time with my dog and I think that ends up saving me money that I might otherwise spend on entertaining myself.

MsFrugalista

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #31 on: March 17, 2015, 07:51:20 PM »
In any event, I have a dog and I find while there are costs, they live a perfectly mustachian life.  They just want to be with their loved ones and do not care for material things.  Plus, for me, I enjoy spending time with my dog and I think that ends up saving me money that I might otherwise spend on entertaining myself.

+1

We have two small dogs (~16 lbs each). One was a rehome and the other a rescue. One dog is just happy being walked several times a day, fed, and left alone to bathe under the sun for a couple hours a day. The other one just wants to sit on one of our laps all day. And of course they are very happy to be fed any time, all the time :).  We have averaged $100 a month on pet costs over the last few years since getting them - this was largely due to expensive grooming sessions 3-4 times a year. Our dogs are hypoallergenic and thus require frequent grooming. However, I recently bought clippers and other grooming tools and will be taking this on myself this year.

andystkilda

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #32 on: March 18, 2015, 05:31:03 PM »
I agree with everything said here about keeping dog-ownership costs lower - some tips that have helped us:
- Groom yourself - shower with you every few weeks, cut dog's nails yourself etc. etc.
- Buy Flea treatments when on sale in larger quantities
- In General keep an eye on their health to catch small problems before they become major problems

firewalker

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #33 on: March 18, 2015, 06:23:05 PM »
I select only the most mustachian pets to keep vet bills down. My Canada Goose had a cold 6 months ago but his honk was quite clear when he flew over northbound yesterday. But other pets present their own challenges. Lesson learned: DO NOT crate train a rock badger!

Lis

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #34 on: March 19, 2015, 07:31:37 AM »
I just signed up to volunteer at my local shelter, which happens to be a very nice shelter. There are also foster opportunities. Since I've never owned a dog or cat before, I think this will be a really good way to get my feet wet and better understand how to properly care for one if I ever decide to adopt or rescue.

^ This!!

If you're on the fence about adopting but you're not sure if you're ready, look into your local shelters and try fostering. With most places, vet bills are covered, so you're only left with the cost of food. It's a great way to learn how to care for animals without a huge commitment, plus you're helping out pets in need. And, if you are ready, you might foster fail :) When my parents were looking into getting a second dog, they decided to try fostering. My mom knew halfway through the drive home with her first foster puppy that she didn't want to give her back, and once their first dog started happily playing with the pup, her fate was sealed. The shelter ended up waiving all adoption fees.

Cromacster

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #35 on: March 19, 2015, 07:55:56 AM »
I have a German Shepherd who likes to eat.  According to my records my monthly average is about $160.  This includes food, toys, meds, and vet visits.  It does not include any money I have spent for training or the cost to acquire him.  The biggest expense is the food, which runs me about $100 a month.

Candace

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Re: Mustachian Pet Ownership
« Reply #36 on: March 19, 2015, 08:19:00 AM »
How to keep the cost of pet(s) down? Pretty simple.

First, you're already thinking cat and not dog, so that improves your odds, by and large.

Second, you accept that pets cost money. You have to feed them, at a minimum (duh). You do have an obligation to protect their health by taking them to the vet and getting them immunized. Also, cats are supposed to have their teeth cleaned every so often to prevent diseases that get in via inflamed gums. That's expensive because they have to be anesthetized to clean them. But it extends their lives.

If you get a mixed-breed cat that seems healthy, by and large you're improving your odds that they won't have expensive problems.

Second, don't buy stuff they don't need. This is probably obvious to you. Toys can be cheap. My cats love ponytail holders, the pull-off tabs from gallon jugs and wadded-up tin foil. Sometimes I buy the little mice, but those don't cost very much and they last a while. No silly sweaters or such.

But-- please know that their health is a crap shoot. When and if something happens (fungal infections as a previous poster, bladder stones like my mixed-breed rescue, or any of a myriad of other random problems), then you have difficult decisions to make. How much do you spend on a pet before you decide to put them down? I spent a lot more on my cat last year than I was expecting, because she had bladder stones and needed surgery (about $1300 including all the treatment) -- or I could have had her suffering ended by putting her down. I just couldn't do it. She was only four years old. But I think for someone who is on a tight budget, it's not a monstrous thing to weigh the costs and sometimes make the other decision. Now she's on a special food to prevent more stones from forming. It's a lot more expensive than, say, Iams. And if the stones recur, I'm looking at a really tough decision. How much do you spend to extend a pet's life? Everyone comes to their own conclusion. If you get pets, eventually you will face these things.

So, it's a pretty simple matter to minimize costs for things they don't need, but not that simple to draw the line when they do need something. Personally, I love my cats (I just got a second SPCA cat) and happily spend the money. They improve my quality of life far more than the extra money would.