im on a huge reading kick so ive been wanting to finish all the books i have out from three different libraries (great in theory, not in practice). the blog has been very low on the list.
so here's so more thrifty stuff, in no particular order.
cat litter - just like the diapering continuum, where you go from using disposables diaper and wipes up through complete potty training, cloth diapers and wipes or elimination communication, there are different ways of going about dealing with the issues of kitty litter. the cheapest and easiest would be having your cat go outside. but then you also deal with a whole mess of other potentially costly situations - like injury/illness, monthly parasite treatment, yearly vaccines to protect your cat from the myriad other animals they will encounter in the big bad world. indoors is best for cats, plain and simple so lets not even think of that option.
the other no cost would be toilet training your cat - which again, might be great in theory, not in practice. honestly, after dealing with training the bowels of two little people, the last thing i want to do is train my three cats and any of the other random cats i will probably have in the future.
so the other option is cheap clay litter or more expensive natural litters. (now the analysis will depend greatly on the number of cats and boxes in the house).
you average large bucket bag of scoop-able clay cat litter will cost between 9.99 and 16.99. with multiple cats, this will probably last about a month, maybe two.
the natural litters - newspaper, pine, wheat or corn will be 15.99-35.99. again, the bag will last a month, but you can compost the waste (though i would only use it on non-food crops, personally).
so what's a thrifty person to do? your money or your environment?
of course, the answer is neither! feline pine and world's best cat litter are two of the most popular natural litters, and the most expensive. but they are pressed pine pellets and cracked corn. all one needs to do is go to the local feed store and look for kiln-fired pine pellet horse bedding and chicken scratch. 40 to 50 pound bags of this will cost you under 10 dollars. (though feline pine currently has a rebate program where the first bag is free, so by all means get some if you are intrigued.)
now there is a lot of concern in the pet world about pine for any sort of bedding. generally, pine/cedar with small animals is a big fucking no-no because of the phenols in that lovely pine smell humans love so much. if your cats are prone you any sort of upper respiratory issues, it would probably be best to stay away. apparently there are non-pine pellets for wood burning stoves, but then you also have to worry about what wood is being used, as it can also be poisonous depending on the woods used.
as for corn, i havent used it but ive been told it's prone to mold if you dont clean it out often enough, but i clean the box everyday so it's no big deal. if you are one of those people who only want to clean the box once a month (and i known a few like that) this option will not work for you.
ive got three cats, plus a stray and three boxes. i purchased a 40lb bag of horse bedding two weeks ago for 8.99. ive got more than half the bag yet. even if it lasts the same time as the litter i was using before, that's still more that half the money i was spending a month for a savings of almost $200 a year. i noticed the smell is more "pine-y" than feline pine, but it's not overbearing. kinda like new pressboard ikea furniture.
cat food - just like people food, you can really sacrifice quality when you go cheap and then you are open to a lot of other, often costly, repercussions. i raw feed my babies and i highly recommend it to others. for under 20 dollars a month i can get enough food to feed my brood. they get a variety of chicken portions, chicken feet, livers, pork and beef neck bones, turkey wings, tails, drumsticks, gizzards, and lamb and buffalo when i can find it. they've also gotten raw shrimp and salmon when it was really really on sale. and even though i can spit into farm country, ive yet to find a local contact for rabbit and other exotic meat. i buy bulk trays and bags when they are on sale and am able to find a lot of "scrap" meat at grocery stores like sack n' save and fiesta which caters to latinos, though "white" grocery stores have started carrying more stuff like pigs feet and the like. among the cost effective benefits of raw feeding are: less offensive smelling poop which means less need for heavily fragranced litter or other odor-controlling additives, naturally "brushed" teeth so no messing with tooth brushes and pastes, and over all healthier cats.
books - this is going to be like lent but a billion times worse. last year, we spent over $200 on books, and that's not counting stuff i paid in cash. generally, i only buy keeper books anyway, but for the year, ive decided to hold off any purchases of reading materials and utilise any and all available libraries and inter-library loan privileges. of course the more i read, the long my wishlist grows, but im trying to follow the principle of delayed gratification, and if i can survive a year or so without it, do i really need it? but i already know of a few books that will be purchased for gift giving reasons. and those i will attempt to get as cheaply as possible.
screw the dryer - so far for this year, i think ive only thrown a load or two in the dryer. seeing as we've hardly gotten any rain, the weather's been fairly decent and it's dry as fuck in the house, ive been air drying just about everything - even socks which i used to consider too much a pain in the ass to hang. the only downside the limited space for drying which keeps me from doing more than one load a day, which just doesnt work for me. all it takes is needing to do diapers, or the sheets or needing to split a colour load and im scrounging for socks or work clothes for husband. i might break down and buy some drying racks from lehman's on the principle that i would use my dryer even less and with our electricity rates going up, they would pay for themselves in a year. and this summer, i WILL make a solar oven but that's another post all together.