Simple living with pets

Cat: “You can’t have my shiny thing. I found it, it’s my shiny thing.”
Rimmer: “What are you driveling about?”
Cat (producing yoyo): “THIS is my shiny thing. And if you try and take it off me I may have to eat you.”
~”Waiting for God,” Red Dwarf

Pets aren’t for the extreme minimalist. Or the extreme frugalist…no matter what you do, you can’t get around the fact that pets require “stuff” and are quite expensive. But there are some ways to simplify pet ownership.

Get rid of all the unnecessary crap. One collar, one leash. Maybe two, if you have a dog and need an ID collar and a slip collar or head halter. All the fru-fru dress-up shit should go, too. A sweater or two if needed, but no dresses or tank tops. Animals don’t require clothing.

Cats don’t need beds. Face it, they’re going to use your bed, anyway. Get the dog something simple and classic. A blanket, small pad, or very simple bed. Something easy to wash.

They can get by just fine with a water dish or bucket. Cats and dogs don’t need a water filter or a special pet fountain. They’re temping, I know, I used to own one, but they’re an unnecessary waste of space and electricity.

Pick a few good toys that don’t require batteries or an outlet. For cats, supplement with bottlecaps, wadded up receipts, used aluminum foil, paper bags, the list goes on. For dogs, have something to chew on, something to fetch, something to interact with, and maybe one or two other toys. Only keep a couple out at a time, and switch them when the fun’s gone. I keep the spare cat toys in the catnip tub to refresh them.

Spay or neuter them. This is one thing that will make pet ownership much simpler. No spraying, no going into heat, no trying to sell or give away litters.

One kind of treat at a time. You don’t need to keep a small warehouse of biscuits.

Cats and small dogs don’t need special nail clippers. Just use your own.

Aside from a few breeds, most groomers I know (and I know a few) use only one type of brush: a slicker. They will be more than happy to teach you how to use it, since it means less work for them when your pet comes in for grooming.

If you don’t bathe your pet very often, you can get away with using plain old “blue” Dawn for shampoo. It’s inexpensive and keeps you from having yet another bottle under the sink. You can also use “people” shampoo on dogs. Just don’t do it very often. If you intend on bathing your pet on a regular basis, go with the pet shampoo. Don’t worry about flea shampoo. Unless you have a massive infestation, most shampoos will kill fleas if you let the pet soak for a few minutes.

The crate and carrier should be the same item.

Teach dogs a few basic commands, and make sure they respond to them in any situation. Sit, come, kennel/crate, and for larger dogs, stand. I can’t tell you how much groomers love it when a St. Bernard stands or crates on command. Train dogs to sit before they are given their meal and before they’re greeted. Trust me, this will make life much easier.

Microchip your pet with the most universally read chip in your area. This is in addition to the ID tag and rabies tag.

You don’t need books about the breed or about the pet in general, unless you’re just that much of a newbie. Borrow them or use the internet.

Try to avoid all the cute and fun bullshit the pet industry produces. Most of it you don’t need. If you want to get the pet a present for Christmas, get the pet a Christmas treat, not a seasonal toy that they’ll look ridiculous with in two months.

Double-stick tape works wonders with most cats. Stick it to a spot they’re scratching or on a table you don’t want them on, and watch the cat deter itself. This does not work with cats that lick adhesive or eat plastic, although it does occasionally make for entertainment.

Toilet-train your cat. I didn’t because I’m out of the apartment too often to come home to a toilet full of cat feces, but for homebodies this can pretty well eliminate the need for a litter box.

Speaking of…keep an eye on your pets’ stool. No, watching your cat or dog take a crap isn’t the most fun you’ll ever have, but it can alert you to parasites or potential health issues.

Anyone have any other suggestions?

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4 Responses to “Simple living with pets”

  1. I have a 6 yo pug and recently got a new puggle puppy. You’re right – it’s not the most extreme frugal way to live, but my DH and I have simplified the rest of our lives to such an extent having two small dogs is a pleasure, not a nuisance. Here are my favorite cheap dog tips:
    1. Buy 25 cent stuffed animals at Goodwill for toys. They’re just going to get chewed up anyway.
    2. Call around at vets if you need an expensive procedure. I saved $600 on my dog’s knee surgery just by switching vets.
    3. Pick a small breed. Everything is less, from food expenses to bedding.
    4. Skip expensive shopping Saturdays and take your dog to the park. I use my dogs as an excuse to get out and about in nature.
    5. Find a local dog-sitter – neighbor, family, friend. Trade services with them to get dog-sitting for free. You can babysit or tutor their kid in exchange.
    6. Watch The Dog Whisperer. That man’s a genius when it comes to training dogs. Be a calm and assertive pack leader. If your dog doesn’t respect you, kiss a harmonious home goodbye.

    Hope this helps your readers! ~ Meg

  2. Are you sure about the nail clippers? From what I’ve read and heard, it’s quite easy to hurt them when cutting their nails, and a tool that’s not made for the job would seem to make that more likely.

    • Actually, I find it easier to quick an animal’s nail using the “guillotine” type clippers…those are often sold for small animals. The biggest issue with clipping nails is visibility. Guillotines can obstruct the view of small nails in a way scissor type and human nail clippers don’t.

      Obviously if the human clippers can’t cut the nail clean through the first time then clippers of the proper size should be used. But I use my own clippers on the cats, and they work just as well as the pet clippers I used on them when I worked in grooming.

      It’s easy to hurt animals while doing nails, but the pain is very minimal and the bleeding stops quickly. Some animals don’t even notice, others become drama queens and kings. Most people are scared to clip nails, but in reality it’s much safer and easier to do it yourself since you’re not stressing them out so much. It just takes confidence, practice, and possibly an extra set of hands. :P

  3. Heya , does somebody know suitable dog sitting services website ? I’m thinking of the following one although my hubby and i has been itching to know if folks know any alternative ones. By the way, seriously fine and interesting website.I further like graphic design and style of it. Anyways, if any person familliar with these folks let me know please. Have a nice day

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