Think owning a cat is cheap? Not so much. The decision to get a cat isn’t one to take lightly, especially if you’re concerned with finances. Pet ownership will require some up-front costs and regular monthly expenses.
In this blog post, I break down the true cost of owning a cat and how you can do it without breaking the bank. From adoption to supplies to veterinary care to pet insurance, I’ve got you covered! So, sit back, relax, and get ready to learn about what it costs to own a sweet kitty. You can afford it, even if you’re on a tight budget! Off we go…
Where is the Best Place to Get a New Furry Friend?
There are a few options when it comes to acquiring a cat. You can go to a breeder, adopt from a shelter, or even find someone looking to rehome their cat. Each option has its own cost associated with pet ownership so choose the one which best fits your needs.
This is usually an inexpensive option. Adoption fees can range from $50 to $200, depending on the shelter and cat you choose. This cost typically includes the cat’s spay or neuter surgery, microchip, and vaccinations. Some shelters also require that you pay small adoption fees to help cover the cost of care for the other animals at the shelter.
If you’re looking for a specific type of cat, you’ll probably have to go to a breeder. A purebred cat on the other hand, can be quite expensive. The cost of a kitten from a breeder can range from $600 to $1,500 or more depending on the breed. The price includes a kitten’s vaccinations and other medical care, but it does not include the cost of spaying or neutering surgery, which is typically an additional $200 to $300 in some cases.
For those people who are really trying to save money, you may be able to find someone who is looking to rehome their cat. This is normally the free choice however, you will still need to budget for any needed medical costs.
You could possibly find someone wanting to rehome their cat on websites like Craigslist or Facebook. Just make sure to ask a lot of questions and get the cat’s medical records if possible.
Cat Acquisition = $0 to $1500 or more
Up-Front Medical Costs
No matter where you get your cat, you will need to decide how much you are willing to spend. Listed below are only the most necessary medical procedures for cat owners. It’s up to you to choose what’s best for your cat and your budget.
This is one of the most important things you can do for your cat’s health. It can help prevent certain medical conditions and make your cat less likely to roam, which can sometimes result in getting lost or being hit by a car.
The cost of spay or neuter surgery can range from $60 to $80 from some rescue shelters and even convenient mobile pet clinics. However, if you insist on a regular veterinarian performing this procedure, they usually charge from $200 to $300.
These are very important for your cat’s health. They help protect your cat from deadly diseases, like rabies and feline leukemia.
The cost of vaccinations can range from $50 to $100 depending on the number of vaccinations your cat needs and where you get them. In addition, this can be a yearly cost as well.
This is another excellent idea, especially if your cat will be spending any time outdoors. The procedure helps to ensure that your cat will be returned to you quickly and easily if it ever becomes lost.
The cost of microchipping your cat is generally around $40 to $50, but it is often included with the adoption fee from shelters.
Medical Procedures = $110 to $230
You can choose to forgo the above medical options however, I would not recommend it. If your cat does ever become sick or injured, the cost of treatment will be much higher than the price of preventive care. Also, if the kitty wanders off and gets lost, it would break your heart. Please don’t let that happen.
Preparing Your Home for the New Arrival
Before purchasing anything, you will need to designate a quiet, secluded room for your kitty just in case it is shy or frightened in their new, unfamiliar surroundings. Cats sometimes need adjustment periods until they are totally comfortable in their forever home.
In addition to the cost of acquiring and caring for your new cat, you should also acquire some basic supplies. These are essential to the well-being of you and your new kitty.
The rule of thumb is one litter box for every cat in your home. If you happen to adopt an older cat, you may also want to include one box per floor when you live in a multiple story house, apartment, or condominium. They may have problems with getting up and down stair quickly, so they will need the closest option.
There are several types to choose from but the best for less mess is one with a high wall extension or better yet, a totally covered litter box which is ideal. You may also want a cat mat outside the box to help keep them from dragging litter all over the house. You can find one for $7 to $12.
You could opt for a sifting box, which a slightly higher priced, but be sure it has two pans (other than the sifting tray) to allow for quick and easy removal of waste.
There are also automatic litter boxes which are very expensive and not worth the money as they’re nothing but trouble. They work great for solid feces but when your cat has diarrhea, cleaning the box will be a nightmare.
Another suggestion would be a plug-in air freshener near the litter box to help alleviate the smell, as this can sometimes be overwhelming.
With so many types of cat litter available on the market, it can be a tough choice if you are unfamiliar with them. Here are your options and prices for each type of litter.
Clumping litter is great for eliminating all waste including urine when scooping the box and will run you between $5 and $10 for a good-sized bag.
If you’re concerned about the environment then natural litter, usually made of wood or clay, will easily break down over time. The cost is somewhat higher with this specialized litter from $10 to as much as $30 for a large bag.
For those of you who want a litter that absorbs some of the smell associated with cat waste, then go with crystals. Not having to use as much as the other litters, this option is priced around $5 to $15 for each small or medium bag.
You could trying mixing together different litters to combine their benefits but that is entirely up to you.
When dealing with dry food, most cats slowly graze throughout the day however, there are some cats that will eat everything you put out for them in one sitting. Each cat requires a different strategy in order to keep them from overeating.
Eventually, an overweight cat can have health problems at it gets older so it’s best to prevent that from happening before it gets out of control. The following choices will each have their own benefits. It is best to test your new kitty with a regular plate to see how he or she eats before purchasing a particular option.
A basic food and water bowl set will run you about $5 to $10. You can purchase these right away and simply limit the food put out each time if you find that your cat is a heavy eater.
Sets with a stand are a little more stylish from $10 to $15 on average. If you have the choice in this price range, you should choose the tilted version as the angle is much more conducive for the kitty’s neck position.
On the upper end of the scale, we have the automatic or gravity fed choices. These will give you options to feed your cat which best suit his or her eating habits. They will cost you anywhere from $15 to as much as $100 for the electronically controlled and timed feeders.
There are also the pet water fountains that continuously circulate the water which cats do prefer, as their wild predecessors were accustomed to drinking out of moving rivers and streams. Prices for these are $10 to $40 depending on the style that fits your needs.
Whether it is wet or dry food, make sure the brand you purchase is high in protein since cats are obligate carnivores. You will need to check the nutrition labels on every bag of dry food and each can of wet food you choose.
The prices vary widely because of the different ingredients and age ranges. Some are made for kittens while others may cater to senior cats. Pay close attention as you want to get the correct type of food for your kitty.
A typical 3 to 4 lb bag of dry food average from $6 to $14 with some specialized brands as high as $25.
Cans of wet food generally run anywhere between $0.60 and $1.10 depending on the brand or ingredients.
HINT: At first, you will want to pick the smallest bag of dry food possible until you figure out which one your cat prefers. As you may have heard before, cats can sometimes be finicky when it comes to what they want to eat. You should try a variety of wet food protein flavors from chicken to seafood as well.
If you want to save your carpet and furniture from being ripped to shreds, then buying a scratching post or pad would be a wise decision. You’ll want to make certain it’s tall enough or long enough for your cat to stretch out fully when he or she reaches to scratch.
The typical scratching post will be wrapped with sisal rope and is extremely durable. The price will range from $20 to $30 mainly depending on the height.
A horizontal scratching pad made from tightly fused, corrugated cardboard should run about $10 to $20 with differing shapes and sizes.
Those are the essential supplies for your new kitty. The total cost includes two weeks worth of wet food for your first time out. You can adjust as you see fit.
Essential Supplies = $42 to $188
A Few Optional Supplies to Consider
As a new cat owner, you may be wondering what else you need to get for your feline friend. Of course, the essentials like food, water, and a litter box are a must, but there are a few other things you might want to consider that will make your cat’s life (and yours!) a little easier and more enjoyable.
Here are some items you may want to think about:
If you plan on letting your cat roam around outside, then an ID tag is a must. Most pet stores have them for around $3 to $10. You can also purchase a personalized ID tag online.
As for the collar, you’ll want to make sure it’s comfortable and not too tight. It should also have a quick release in case your cat gets it caught on something. These are widely available from $3 to $10.
For taking your cat with you on trips or to the vet, a carrier is a necessity. Carriers come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. Their cost will vary depending on the type and size you choose. Expect to spend anywhere from $15 to $100 on a decent carrier.
While your cat may prefer to sleep in your bed, having a nice, soft bed is always a good idea. Cats like to have their own space, and a bed gives them a place to rest that is just for them. There are many different types of beds to choose from which run $8 to $60 or more.
Cats love to play, and having a few toys around will help keep them entertained. The cost of cat toys will range from a couple dollars for a simple toy to $20 or more for those that are complex and highly interactive.
The two basic grooming essentials would be a brush and nail clippers. A brush will help remove any loose fur and keep your cat’s coat healthy and shiny. Nail clippers are necessary for keeping your cat’s nails trimmed. Both can be found at most pet stores for around $5 to $10 each.
Buying a cat tree is a great way to give your cat exercise and a place to scratch. They come in all shapes and sizes, so you can find one that fits your space and budget. Prices for cat trees start at about $50 and can go up to $200 or more.
Optional Supplies = $91 to $420
Figuring Out Monthly Expenses
The average cat cost isn’t just the purchase price or adoption fee. You’ll need to factor in ongoing costs for things like food, litter, toys, and vet care. Here’s a look at some of the key monthly expenses to budget for when you’re adopting a cat.
You should budget about $24 to $47 per month for food. Of course, this will vary depending on the type of food you feed your cat and how much your cat eats. If you have a large or very active cat, you may need to slightly increase the amount.
In addition to regular meals, most cats enjoy their delicious special treats. You can expect to spend $10 to $20 per month on treats. They do have dental treats which help with teeth cleaning as well.
A bag of litter can cost anywhere from $10 to $20, and you’ll need to replace it every two to three weeks on average. If you have multiple cats, you will go through a bag even quicker.
Cats need stimulation, so add an extra $5 to $10 each month for new toys. This could be anything from a simple feather wand or catnip toy to a battery-operated laser pointer or interactive puzzle toy.
Cats need annual checkups and vaccinations, which can cost around $100 or more every year. You should budget for emergency care vet bills in case your cat gets sick or injured. A good rule is to set aside $30 to $50 per month for vet care.
While not required, pet insurance can give you peace of mind knowing that your cat is covered in case of an unexpected accident or serious illness. Pet insurance plans start at around $10 per month but can increase to $30 or more for general wellness coverage which can include preventative care.
If you’re renting, your landlord may charge a pet fee. This could be a one-time fee or an ongoing monthly charge. Also, when traveling, you may need to pay a pet fee to stay in a hotel or use a rental car.
Monthly Expenses = $89 to $197
(Pet Fees Not Included)
These are just some of the monthly costs you’ll need to budget for when you adopt a cat. Many of these monthly expenses are optional and entirely up to your needs or judgement.
By taking the time to understand the cost of owning a cat, you can make sure you’re prepared for the financial responsibility.
Ways to Afford a Cat if You’re on a Budget
Cats can be somewhat expensive, there’s no doubt about it. That doesn’t mean you have to give up your dream of owning one if you’re on a tight budget. There are plenty of ways to keep the cost of owning a cat down.
Here are a few tips for saving money when your budget is limited:
Adopt, Don’t Shop – Adopting a cat from a shelter is much cheaper than buying one from a breeder or pet store. Not to mention, you’ll be giving a home to a deserving cat who needs it.
Get Pet Insurance – Pet insurance can help you cover the cost of sudden vet bills. While pet insurance won’t cover everything, it can help reduce the financial burden of unexpected medical expenses.
Shop Around for Supplies – Don’t just buy the first cat food or litter you see. Shop around and compare prices to find the best deals. This also includes veterinary clinics. Not all charge outrageous prices so do your homework.
DIY Where Possible – There are plenty of things you can do yourself to save money on cat care. For example, instead of buying expensive toys, you can make your own. A ball of string or yarn will do nicely for a cheap alternative.
Know When to Splurge – Some things are worth spending a little extra on, like high-quality food or vet care. However, you shouldn’t spend more than you can afford. You can find less expensive cat supplies at the Dollar Store.
Use a Credit Card – If you need to buy something for your cat and don’t have the cash on hand, consider using a credit card. Just be sure to pay it off as soon as possible to avoid high interest charges.
By following these tips, you can afford to give your cat the best possible life, even if you’re on a limited budget. Love and attention are free!
So, there you have it. A comprehensive guide to helping you afford a new kitty. By understanding all the potential expenses, you can make sure you’re prepared for the financial responsibility of cat ownership.
When you only have a small budget available, there are actually plenty of ways to manage money for cat care. By being smart about your spending, you can afford to give your cat an incredibly wonderful life.
Now, what are you waiting for? Go out and find the sweet, furry friend you’ve always wanted!
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Hello and welcome! I’m a genuine cat lover and devoted parent of two adorable kitties. As you can see, cat adoption is meaningful for me. I believe it’s a humane and loving option. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the people who operate rescue shelters. To show my gratitude for their selfless dedication, I’ve designed this website to help enlighten potential feline owners and raise awareness for cat adoption. Please join me and other cat lovers in our efforts to ensure every kitty has a happy, healthy life!
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