ideas on pets after retirement

newontarionianMarch 22, 2014

we currently have a perfect life with our cat and dog (both adopted from shelters). all my life i have always had pets and don't actually know how to live without the affection of pets in my life, nor would i want to.

last year my husband and i retired. suddenly money became a huge issue. we know we need to live frugally and we do!

i fear the day either of my pets are no longer alive. it is difficult to pay for everything from vets, to food, to litter. my husband said probably we wont be able to have pets any longer. i am so sad at the thought that i come to you all for ideas.

what do you think since money is truly a priority!

it doesn't feel fair (but, life isn't fair, i guess) that animals need homes beyond a shelter (or worse), they need to live in warm homes with a loving forever family.. is there anything out there that you can think of for this horrendous situation to work out for the pets and people involved?

thanks for your advice in advance!

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A couple of thoughts.

Could either one of you get a part-time job to help pay for the pet food and pet care? Not knowing how old you are or why you retired when you did, this might not be an option. Even 10 hours a week at minimum wage would probably bring in enough to cover food, litter and basic check-ups.

You could also consider fostering animals for a shelter. Many shelters don't have enough room for all the animals, and will place some in foster homes. You'd have to check with the shelter--some provide the food and medical care, some just provide the medical care. This would allow you to have the benefits of having animals in your life, but without as high a cost.

Examine your budget carefully. Is there anything you can cut out to save money? Cancel the cable tv, for example?

And one final thought. Does your husband feel about pets the same way you do? Or is this an attempt on his part to finally be free of the responsibility of taking care of animals all the time?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 2:09PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Volunteer at a shelter. You'll be doing yourself and the animals a favor without the committment. It's highly rewarding. Many shelters need help to socialize shell shocked animals, or help with taking their photos to get them on Petfinder, or in some cases, even volunteers to help with their spay/neuter program. As I get less steady on my feet, I've transitioned to helping with paperwork and dealing with the oh so hard job of just sitting there petting cats. :-)

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 2:20PM
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goodness ...

what concrete, down to earth responses! i am so glad i decided to share my pre-thinking on this issue. both of you gave me answers which give me lots to think about..

btw, no cable here .. animals are far more worthy of my time, energy and $$$$!

thank you

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 5:51PM
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I wouldn't retire if it meant no pets and I was still physically and mentally able to work. So if I was in your situation I'd get a job if I was physically and mentally able to work.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 11:37PM
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gibby 000

without knowledge of someone's story .. oh well .. you can imagine the rest of my thinking about that!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 9:22AM
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The size of your pets makes a huge difference. (dogs, especially) We have two large labs and 7 indoor/outdoor cats so they really do put a huge dent in our food budget.

We are also on a fixed income and barely making it but we would give up something before we would give up our pets. My husband hunts so I make all of the dog treats with venison. We will be raising chickens again so if need be, I could start making all of their food instead of just treats.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 10:00AM
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ryse ,,,

we used to adopt rottweilers as they are wonderful beings yet the least adoptable. but now we only have a papillion (whose history makes him nervous. we are happy he is with us so he lives quietly and with kindness).

i totally respect your household of terrific animals, however, even one little cat and dog takes $$$ to tend them.

i just was wondering if there is any provision anyone knew of which WANTS people to adopt animals and yet will continue caring for them financially.

lucky you and your hubby. lucky pets! :-)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 10:22AM
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newontarionian - no offense intended. Just saying what I would do as I like you, would not want to be without pets. If I was unable to pay for their care I would sadly end up without pets. It would break my heart to have them and not be able to adequately care for them so as they passed, I would not get more.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 11:32AM
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Have you considered a parakeet or cockatiel? They can be amusing and affectionate companions. Virtually no vet care required, and simple food requirements.

I grew up with a series of very funny and personable parakeets, and once had a lovely cockatiel who would spend hours every evening while I watched TV playing in a "busy box" in my lap. I took a shallow cardboard box, lined it with newspaper or paper towels, and filled it with interesting things like uncooked spaghetti, feathers, plastic caps from gallon milk jugs, a peanut shell, a little metal jingle bell, a Q-tip, a Kleenex to shred, a seashell, a bit of lettuce or apple, some bird seed, etc... He'd happily root around playing with and talking to various items, whistling and yakking it up, and then periodically climb up to my shoulder for kisses.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 1:21PM
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The problem with smaller hook bills ( Parrots) is they tend to outlive older owners/ ideally cockateils should live over 20.- what then?.... most bird rescues are chock a block full. Also they have diet requirements/ seeds are not all that great for them and much like cats transitioning them to pellets/wet food for cats can be hard work.
I think the volenteer idea at a shelter would be the best solution. That way you could get your pet fix and then still not have to care for anything or have to put anything before your medical bills/ect. you could travel more in your golden years something that's harder to do when you have a pet.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 4:28PM
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Our SPCA is always asking for temporary homes for animals that need to recover from something before they can be adopted. I don't know if they pay for anything or not. I use coupons and buy what's on sale for my cats. I have 3 fixed ferals and one indoor kitty. I can't imagine living without a cat.
Our friend takes in golden labs until they can get a forever home, but I know she has to buy their food.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 4:35PM
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i see the concern and adoration people have for pets .. it's just charming me to no end! :-)

i am glad that i brought the topic up at this time as i am far from needing to live without animals. also, already i am positive that my family will always love them if i become unable to.

whether i have pets in our home or not, i intend to get myself right over to the nearest shelter and offer my services.

this forum always attracted the most intelligent, sensitive, well meaning people .. and that trend obviously continues!

thanks to all

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 5:38PM
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This is one of the sweetest, most touching threads I've read. And terrific suggestions too. Pets aren't just a luxury; they improve people's mental health too. Is your husband suggesting you get rid of the pets, or is it that when they are gone they won't be replaced?

Another thing you could do is be a pet sitter or a dog walker. Shelters often need dog walkers. Let neighbors know you are available to watch pets, bring in the mail, etc. when they are gone. Even now you could do that to make some money. You could even watch people's pets in your home when they go on vacation.

You sound so worried, but don't worry, I have a feeling you'll work it out.

Holly springs, you keep up that difficult job of petting cats. Cats everywhere are grateful that we have wonderful people to do these tough jobs! Lol....

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 12:08AM
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first off, believe it or not, i actually looked you up the other day, sock, as i am a newly addicted sock knitter!!! obviously, i am always looking for tips as well as pics from others, which is how come i clicked on your name just before beginning this thread.

as per pets, sock yarn, too, is quite expensive. being a toy knitter before this recent sock addition, i have tons of acrylic yarn. soooo .. i am making my socks out of sock yarn AND acrylic. i am in the process of finding out how much acrylic will be too much for a nice feeling, looking and washing sock! lol

as for this thread .. i just decided that this is a whole world of human beings who might have some remarkable thinking to share over a real topic. as i said before, i have two wonderful pets who warm my heart daily. although both are older, i assume both will continue living long lives filled with their silly antics!

i am glad that you as well as i see how fulfilling this conversation has been. i am totally charmed by what i have heard from people who obviously are concerned, thoughtful, pet loving persons!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 8:03AM
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one more thing!

i receive an email from freekibble daily. i click on this as it is an organization which donates tons and tons of kibble to sheltered cats and dogs. also, the fun questions have actually been informative sometimes!

that's the dog kibble page but you see on that page a way to click on the cat page too!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 8:19AM
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Oh yes, socks are fun to knit. If you are looking for a way to use up more time on the internet (lol), join It's a very friendly knitting/crocheting place you can join free, and they never send you emails or sell your info. If you get stuck on a technique or have a question, people are very helpful! I find the members smart and witty too. There are forums specifically for sock knitters.

If/when you do go to a shelter to volunteer or whatever, ask if they know of any resources to help seniors feed and care for their pets. Or if the pets need to go to the vet, ask the vet too.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 10:57AM
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Kes Z 7a E Tn

I don't think that there is one magic answer to the expense of ownership for people everywhere. I'll throw out a couple ideas and you can check to see which ones might be available near you.

There are low cost or even free pet vaccination clinics and spay/neuter clinics available in many areas. For example, our community offers low cost rabies vacc's and a local farm supply store offers a vaccination clinic for all commonly offered vaccines for a minimal amount. Some cities also offer low cost vet clinics at certain times. You might want to check with your local shelter or animal humane org. to see where and when for any of the above.

I don't know what types of food you feed and I don't know whether your pets require a prescription food. If not, sometimes you can swap your current brand of pet food for a food of reasonable quality that isn't as expensive. Also, if your dog or cat isn't on a prescription diet, you can try feeding good quality food that also happens to be on sale at that time. You don't always have to feed the very same food. It is actually a good idea to change it up now and then because they may stop making that kind someday and it will be much easier for you to introduce a new food if needed. I know that old cats, can be very finicky about anything different or new so you might be unsuccessful on that front. But it's worth a try. Another thing worth trying is to go in with several other pet owners and buy in bulk. This won't save you a huge amount but it will help a little. Another is to use your own leftovers cut into small amounts (using good judgement, of course) for treats and maybe even to add to your pet's diet.

Don't know if this will help at all. I am a foster home and while the vet bills are covered by our rescue, the food must be supplied by the foster home. I feed reasonably good food but keep costs down.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 2:25PM
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another thoughtful email from a person as concerned as could be about pets and their humans! actually, i either have done many of the things mentioned or am about to do so. very much, thanks for your input!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 8:46AM
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I feel ya. When I retired I was in a weird situation and ended up with a dog who was beautiful, smart and ended up costing m over $8K in the 12 years I had him. I ate alot of top ramen noodles and soup. There is a HUGE shortage of Foster families to foster dogs which will need training and socializing to find new homes, Often times the vet bills are paid for, and the dogs are only in your home for a couple of is hard to give them up, but it is a great service

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 1:38AM
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There are organizations that will deliver free dog and cat food, or it can be picked up. I'd start making calls to various shelters and also vets may have the information about these programs.
At a low point in my life I had to accept free rabbit food, produce and hay. When pets were the reason pride went out the window !

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 1:51AM
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i cant tell you how informative every response to my initial question has been. i am so grateful that people took things so seriously. none of this applies at this time but prepared is the way to be!

thanks for the inspiration!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 9:57AM
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I also live in Ontario (Toronto) and understand exactly what you mean. My husband will be retiring next year (and not with a government pension) and I do not have a pension. Our dog (we are now down to one from dogs and cats (with health issues) is very expensive. Pet care in Canada costs a lot more than in the U.S. Our dog's dental in March cost $1,500 - fortunately on his breed specific forum when someone questioned paying $600 and I reported what we had paid for same, other Cdns. jumped in and saved me from the flames - and this was not his first dental. We always have the blood work done - wouldn't even think of not having it done since it will reveal things that you didn't know were wrong - actually this scares me more than a procedure. Our dog is 10 but could easily live to be 19. The cost of heartworm, required vaccines, food - it all adds up.

So we are looking at this being our last dog. We take very good care of him. My biggest fear is that he should outlive us and am always afraid what would happen if we died together. Then there is the thought of me dying first and my husband marrying someone 17 years younger who wouldn't want to keep our dog. He says that that would never happen - well it has to people I know. Ours is a guy who really could not be rehomed - well, unless with us. All dogs and cats love me - actually some who have homes on the street are trying to move in. We do not have family who could take our dog. And if our dog should live to be 19 that would put us in our early 70s. I can't imagine not having a dog (well, okay, during this past winter I did ask our dog if he could turn into a cat for a bit) but we do have to face reality. When we adopted him he was a 13 week old puppy - we had intended on adopting a dog about 5 years old - but this guy needed a home so here he is. White, double-coated and my clothes used to be black! I did try fostering - failed (there is a reason why we had so many pets) - then there was the volunteering at the HS - again - another pet. The only way we could have another pet would be to take in a senior and I don't mean a senior like our dog who is 10 with the blood work of a 2 year old - and who looks maybe 3 - but a true senior just to let him live his/her life in comfort without heroics. Maybe if you spoke with your vet he/she might have some ideas for you. We also took dogs/cats from our vet....

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 2:58PM
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Couple of alternatives (I do volunteer animal shelter/rescue work):

1) some shelters/rescues have "senior" programs, where if you adopt an older pet they will help support the cost of that pets care (food & vet).

2) many shelters/rescues are looking for foster homes and some will pay for the pets food & vet bills while in the foster home.

3) food pantries often have pet food, and schools of veterinary medicine often have very reduced rate vet care available.

There are MANY shelter/rescue groups with very different programs & policies. Suggest talking to as any as you need to, until you find one that is a good match for your needs.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 3:13PM
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mdin .. thanks for your intelligent and thoughtful response to my question. i am not as yet in the situation i was referring to in my question, but your ideas give me hope that when the time comes, there may be ways to continue sheltering pets (and getting their uniquely healing qualities).

eccentric .. one thing i love about aging is how forthright we are in how we feel and what we think. you have truly communicated deep issues which we all face in one way or another. i appreciate your relating exactly what you are thinking because it truly hit me on an emotional level.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 9:36AM
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I am providing you some organizations name where they will deliver free dog and cat food, or it can be picked up.I hope this information is helpful for you.


Here is a link that might be useful: Woodwork, Deck Designs

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 7:14AM
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Here in Colorado, my mother adopted a large dog and the program she adopted through gave her food and covered all medical costs.

But honestly....there are free dogs and cats through the Humane Society or on Craigs list. I added up my cats costs:

Kitty litter $6( a month, scoopable)
Big bag of Purina dry food, $5 off coupon $2.88

So for a whole month, it cost me $8.88 to keep my FREE delcawed neutered indoor cat I got off CL. An annual rabies vac is $17.50 from Petsmart.

I also feed him wet food, purchased a pet fountain, a kitty tunnel, halter/leash, pet carrier, 2 kitty beds, toys, brushes, Greenie kitty treats....but that's all optional. :0)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 9:19PM
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nicole ...

your mother sounds like a wonderful human being. as to adding up the costs of having pets, you didn't mention vet bills. luckily, i suppose, your cat has been wonderfully healthy!


    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 9:49AM
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newontarionian.......he's an indoor cat. He's not exposed to a lot of dangers. I had him checked out by a vet, $75 and that included all his shots and the return follow up visit was $15. Yes, my cat is very healthy and not elderly ....yet.

My mother pays NONE of that and can give the dog back at any time. This would be the way to go if there ever became a problem....until anything major happens pets are cheap!

This post was edited by nicole__ on Thu, Apr 24, 14 at 11:02

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 3:09PM
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nicole ...

our cat used to go outdoors once winter finished but no longer. first, he has gotten older so i want to protect him where once upon a time he didn't need me for that and two, my neighbor's cat came home last summer mauled by a coyote .. oh my .. that's really scary!

like you, i just love living with pets for all the comfort as well as adorable moments they offer us!

it was nice of you to share your experiences

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 5:27PM
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