More and more people around the world are getting cats, as pet ownership rates increase each year. While most new cat owners will consider the initial cost of buying a cat, that isn’t the only expense to consider. Caring for a pet carries with it a financial responsibility that continues throughout the life of the pet.
Like any other pet, cats have needs that must be addressed so that they can thrive and live the best life possible. This is not to say that only the well-off can own a cat, but it does mean that there is a bare minimum amount required so that the cat’s basic needs are met and they are treated ethically and responsibly.
Being prepared for the cost of owning a cat can help you make better decisions when it comes to cat registration, pet ownership, and helps prevent cats from being brought to shelters or rehomed. Let’s break down some of the basic costs that new cat owners will need to consider:
The initial cost of adoption can vary depending on where you adopt your cat from. Adopting a cat from a shelter is usually cheaper than buying from a breeder, with adoption fees ranging from $50 to $200. If you choose to purchase a cat from a breeder, be prepared to spend anywhere from $400 to $2,000 on your new feline friend.
Generally, shelter cats will be spayed or neutered before they are released for adoption. Cats from breeders often won’t be, but they may make it a condition of the purchase contract that you commit to having the cat desexed by a certain age. If the cat is not yet spayed/neutered or microchipped, then those will also need to factor into the initial costs.
Thankfully, there are many low-cost spaying and neutering services available in most countries.
The cost of food is probably the most variable expense associated with owning a cat. A 10-pound bag of dry food costs between $15 and $20 and will last an average-sized cat about one month. Wet food tends to be more expensive, with a 3-ounce can costing between $0.75 and $1. Canned wet food also requires a dish and feeding utensils, which adds to the initial start-up cost of owning a cat.
Litter is another necessary expense and typically costs between $10 and $20 per month. Clumping litter is more expensive than non-clumping but generally lasts longer. How much you’ll use depends on your cat, but litter should be scooped out around twice a day, ideally right after your cat uses their litter box.
You will also need to get a sturdy litter box. These can range in price from $10 to $100 depending on their size and features. Some self-cleaning litter boxes can cost upwards of $200.
Vaccinations are important for keeping your cat healthy and preventing diseases. The initial set of shots (feline panleukopenia, feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type I, and rabies) costs between $70 and $120. Booster shots are required annually and typically cost between $35 and $65 each year. These are a non-negotiable expense as many of these diseases are potentially fatal for a cat.
Routine vet visits are important for maintaining your cat’s health but can also be expensive. The average cost of a routine vet visit is between $50 and $100 but can be higher depending on the services required (e.g., blood work, dental cleaning). A cat will have most of their vet visits in the first year of their life, with regular yearly visits once they have fully matured.
Cats require regular grooming to keep their fur clean and free of mats or tangles. Many people choose to do this themselves at home but it can also be done by a professional groomer at a cost of approximately $50 to $100 per session. Grooming tools are another expense to think about, though brushes and nail clippers only cost between $5 to $10.
Toys and Enrichment
Toys are important for keeping your cat entertained and mentally stimulated but they can also add up quickly in terms of cost. A simple scratching post or toy mouse may only cost a few dollars but more elaborate toys can cost upwards of $50.
One of the most common enrichment tools is a cat tower which lets the cat climb, scratch and explore their surroundings. Cheaper options start at around $20, while top-of-the-line premium cat towers can go for as much as $500.
Of course, there is always the option to go the DIY route and make your own enrichment tools such as flirt sticks and cat towers. There are a wealth of instructional videos online for making these types of toys. This can be a great choice for people who are handy and already have most of the materials needed.
As you can see, there are many potential costs associated with owning a cat beyond the initial adoption fee. The total annual cost of ownership ranges from approximately $600 to over $1,000 depending on the individual needs of your cat. This does not include costs associated with unexpected medical bills or emergencies.