Saturday, January 23, 2016

January Spending Freeze, Day 20: New toys for our cats without spending a dime

Our three kittens.  Not as innocent as they look.

Ever since we started the spending freeze on non-essentials, I've kept a running list of everything we did spend money on.  As soon as I started the list, I knew we would have one conspicuous category (no pun intended, but Jordan found one) that would keep popping up, and it hasn't disappointed:  cat stuff.  We do have five cats, so this was bound to happen.  We have two dogs as well, but somehow the cats cost significantly more; I think the litterboxes are partially to blame.  From December 27 - January 23, the time of this writing, we have spent a total of $183 on cats alone.

$183 in less than a month, on cats--and we didn't buy toys or silly outfits or anything frivolous at all.  Normally it wouldn't be so high, but our eldest kitty is sick.  We've taken her to the vet quite a bit over the past several months and have been back a few times to buy more medicine and prescription cat food.  With a full blood panel and later an ultrasound, our kitty spending for November and December was much higher!

One thing I do to help lower our cat expenses is buy our cat food by the case on Amazon.  For Fancy Feast and probably several other canned foods, Amazon offers the best price and free shipping to Prime members.  Prices fluctuate wildly on Amazon, so I track all our preferred types of cat food on and get an email when a price drops unusually low.  When it does, I buy 3-4 boxes.  We have an Amazon Rewards credit card, and often use our rewards points to buy cat food or cat litter.  Our favorite cat litter has been ridiculously overpriced lately, so we're going to have to look for it locally.

We try to only buy decent quality cat food, and natural litter that will not be a respiratory irritant to us, our children, or our pets.  I'm not willing to skimp on things that will cost us more (or cost us more than just money) in the long run.  So, yes, the cats are relatively expensive.  But there are certain things our cats love that don't cost a lot of money.

Our three not-so-little kittens are now about eight months old and incredibly rambunctious.  They tear around the house chasing each other, bouncing on and off the furniture as they go.  If they get bored or if their curiosity is not redirected sufficiently, they can be destructive and extremely annoying.  But, thankfully, it doesn't take much to entertain them!

Boxes are a favorite.  Anytime we get an Amazon order (usually of cat supplies) I put the empty box in the floor for them to enjoy for a while.  A few months ago I even made them this cardboard box funhouse.  It only took a few minutes, and they still play in it sometimes!

But today I decided to use up some of my wool sweater stash and make a few simple catnip toys for them to play with.  I already had the catnip--months ago I paid $4 or so for a big bag of it at a local shop where they sell bulk herbs.  Sometimes I make fancy novelty cat toys, but the cats honestly don't care much what their toys look like.  They will end up dusty under the couch no matter what.  So, I simply cut circles about 6" in diameter, and loosely stitched around the edges with some wool yarn and a big needle.  I put 2-3 tablespoons of loose catnip in the center, placed some little wool scraps on top (this will help keep the loose catnip contained), then pulled the yarn to gather the circle into a drawstring pouch.  Finally, I tied it off tightly and trimmed the yarn.  I made five or six...  Not sure exactly, because as soon as I finished one I'd toss it to a kitten and they'd carry it off!

Clemmy got the first toy, but Pumpkin stole it

Please excuse the shoes, socks, and junk in the floor

The toys are now scattered around, and occasionally a mischievous kitten will spot one and play with it for a little while instead of, for instance, finding a roll of toilet paper to shred into bits.  I really need to come up with a few other good ways to keep them occupied and entertained.  Maybe a toy rotation.  It didn't work for the children, but maybe it would for the cats!