I have two cats (pause for a joke about being a cat lady here), and the last year has taught me a lot about how much it costs to raise a child — ahem, I mean, pet. In my first few months, I spent hundreds of dollars each month getting food, litter, toys, and random things I didn’t even know I needed, like a travel carrier. But after a year, I’ve lowered my expenses to about $40 a month, on average.

I’ve learned a lot about how to take care of a cat without spending a fortune. Do yourself a favor and memorize these tricks before you get that little puppy, kitten, or iguana that you’ve had your eye on:

  1. Buy your pet supplies in bulk.
  2. Don’t get guilt-tripped into buying the priciest stuff.
  3. Purchase your pet medication online.
  4. Look around for the right vet, and consider pet insurance.

1. Buy in Bulk

Buying your pet supplies in bulk is the ultimate way to save 10, 15, or even 20 percent on your cat care purchases overall.

As an Amazon Prime member, I like to use Amazon to order my litter supplies in bulk, which I do about every five weeks. (I order bags of clay pellets and dry pads separately.) In addition to saving a ton of time with the door-to-door delivery, this also saves me about $15 a month.

I also order my wet and dry cat food on Amazon. The best part is that you can set your purchases to be repeated automatically. Every five weeks, I get a confirmation email for a new shipment. This is great because every pet owner has had the distinct chilling sensation of realizing that you’re out of supplies, and you don't time to go get more.

2. Avoid the Priciest Stuff

During my first few months as a pet owner, I purchased only the top-of-the-line (read that as “most expensive”) materials for my cats. You know, the organic, high-protein, touched-by-an-angel food that costs five times as much as the standard stuff.

Don’t get me wrong — I think it’s important to know what's in the food that you’re buying. However, a lot of this stuff can be absurd.

You don’t have to pay that much for quality cat care. Although I don’t regret the Brita filter system I got for my kittens (mostly because it’s pink, holds enough water to last for a week, and is absolutely adorable), the food that I was buying was unnecessarily expensive. I didn’t need anything that fancy.

So I did some research and found a pet food company that sat right in the middle of the spectrum. It has organic ingredients that make me satisfied that my cats aren’t eating the McDonalds of pet food, but it comes without the hefty price tag that comes with a Gwyneth Paltrow-approved recipe.

How to Take Care of a Cat Without Breaking the Bank. Your fur baby deserves to be happy, right? So if you're on a tight budget, what can you do? Learn how to take care of a cat without hurting your wallet. #howtotakecareofacat #frugalliving #frugaltips #petcare #lifestyle

3. Buy Pet Medication Online

Okay, I’ll admit that this information is secondhand. Up to now — knock on wood — my pets have stayed healthy, so I haven’t had to worry about medication. But all of my most savvy pet-owner friends have told me that if my cats ever need medication, I should order it online.

4. Find the Right Vet and Consider Pet Insurance

You should also make sure that your vet costs are competitive with other nearby veterinary institutions. Don’t be afraid to call a few places in your area and ask how their pricing table works. After all, a trip to the vet can put you out hundreds of dollars.

Some people even argue that pet insurance is the safest way to go. I personally didn’t insure my cats, but it may be worth looking into. You can get quotes for insurance plans through Pets Best.

The Bottom Line on How to Take Care of a Cat

Remember, when you buy a pet, you’re often making a financial commitment for up to 20 years. If you focus on being budget-aware at the beginning of your “investment,” then you’ll be able to enjoy loving your pet without spending hundreds of unnecessary dollars every year.