We have a few pets, more than some people would have, not nearly as many as others have. Recently, the topic came up as to how much money I would have each month if I didn't have so many critters to spend it on. Well, we have 1 dog (formerly 2, but one crossed the Rainbow Bridge the day before Labor Day), 5 cats (and 4 kittens who will be ready for new homes in about 6 weeks), a fish and a hedgehog. While my preference is Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul for food, it's not readily available where I now live, so we're giving them your basic department store foods. For the cats, we use Tidy Cats clumping because it's the only one that has a lesser amount of dust. For some reason, the other brands make me sneeze, and the brand I used before we moved (Precious Cat I believe) is also not available here. So in all, we spend about $30 every 2 months.
Now, before I had all my critters, I was diagnosed with situational depression, and was put on Zoloft. At 50 mg, it was around $50 per month. Plus, it only maintained my mood, it didn't help with stress-relief. The best way for me is to just laugh or cry, and the critters make me laugh and curl up with me when I'm crying. They're my company during the day (I work from home, and it can get lonely! LOL) and they are also built-in pest control. How much fun is it to watch 4 cats surround a cricket in the dining room??
We have a little extra work, cleaning litter boxes, checking food, and taking the dog for walks, but in the long run, it's more than worth it. Not only mentally, but also physically. I have a natural walking buddy, natural stress relief, and I think I'm definitely getting the best for my money this way.