The Cost of a Cat

Red cat sitting on the dollar on the white backgroundWhen thinking about adopting a cat, it is important to budget accordingly. A cat is a relatively low-maintenance and low-cost pet with many rewarding attributes that can brighten up any household. Cats are a great option for people that need furry companionship, but don’t have the time, money, space, or energy to spend on a dog. Hours of endless entertainment and cuddles are included with the little feline ball of fur. Its important to include the cost of your pet in your budget, and we’ve got the definitive blueprint for the cost of a cat right here.

Necessary Accessories: You’ll need to make a few purchases to start off your cat journey right. These are all one-time purchases, with a few that you may want to replace annually. You can keep a litter box for a long time with proper care and sanitary procedures, but you may want to replace it after a year or two depending on the quality and upkeep. Cleaning and sanitizing your cat’s litter box on a regular basis will help to make sure that your box lasts a long time.

Woman grooming catA good cat brush can last years and only needs to be replaced if you feel that it has been all used up. Food bowls can be held onto for a long time as well, but will need to be cleaned regularly and replaced as often as you replace your own dishes. Brushing your cat’s teeth on a regular basis is a very beneficial practice that can save you lots of time and money in the future, as it is a great way to prevent oral hygiene problems that could potentially escalate and hurt your cat’s health and your wallet.

Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed mutually benefits you and your pet. With a quick manicure/pedicure that consists of you simply clipping your cat’s nails, you’ll have less shredded furniture, be less at-risk of a painful play attack, and your cat will be able to move around comfortably without getting stuck to fabric on furniture and the carpet. You’ll also want to purchase some toys to keep your furry friend entertained while you’re at home and away. For tips on how to make sure that your cat isn’t bored and lonely while you’re away, click here.

You’ll want to start out with:

Litter box: $10-40
Food bowl: $3-20
Cat brush: $5-15
Toothbrush & toothpaste: $8-15
Nail clippers: $5-10
Toys: $2-30

Spay/Neuter: This is a one-time procedure that you’ll need to get done if it hasn’t been taken care of before adoption. Spaying/neutering refers to the procedure of removing the reproductive organs in your pet. Even if you have an indoor cat, spaying and neutering provides many immediate benefits. It is very important to spay and neuter your pets for a variety of reasons, including the health of your pet, the cleanliness of your home, and the huge issue of pet overpopulation.

Many shelters spay and neuter all animals that come in, but you will need to review your pet’s medical history before adoption to ensure that the procedure has been taken care of. You can spay or neuter a cat at any age over six weeks, so if you’ve found or adopted an adult cat, you can still have the procedure done. Many cities have large-scale shelters that provide spaying and neutering for a discount cost, so be sure to research all options when spaying/neutering your pets.

Spaying/neutering a cat costs much less than it does for dogs, and will cost more at the vet than at a clinic dedicated to spay/neuter procedures. If your female cat is in heat for her spaying appointment, an extra charge will sometimes be incurred because this makes the surgery a bit more complicated. This shouldn’t cost any more than $60 extra, and you can try to time your appointment for when she’s not in heat.

Neuter: $25-200
Spay: $35-200

Close-up of a veterinarian holding a cat isolated on whiteVeterinarian Visits: Finding a good veterinarian in your area is a feat that will benefit you and your pets for years to come. You can check out local review websites to find one that seems to have good reviews and responses, or ask fellow pet-owners in your area for recommendations. You’ll want to take your cat once a year for regular checkups, and any time you are worried about a health issue. Many problems can be remedied at home through over-the-counter products, but it’s certainly better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your fur baby’s health. Cats need to receive vaccinations for feline leukemia, rabies, feline distemper, rhinotracheitis, and calicivirus. At your first veterinary visit, they will most likely take care of all of these shots for you for a reasonable cost.

Pet health insurance is an option as well. The ASPCA offers cat insurance that ranges between $12-50 per month and covers a wide variety of health ailments, depending on the plan that you select. An indoor cat is much less likely to suffer unforeseen health complications when compared to an outdoor cat, simply for the reason that they will be exposed to less dangers. An emergency visit to the vet runs anywhere from $500-3,000, so if you’re not insured, you’ll want to have a bit of savings stashed away.

Yearly visits: $150-200
Health complications: $100+
Monthly pet insurance: $12-50

Food & Litter: The best way to keep your cat healthy and happy is by providing nutritious and delicious food on a regular basis. There are many options when it comes to cat food, from flavor and texture to wet vs. dry food. Your veterinarian can help you with recommendations and many times can provide samples to try out on your pet. Pet food store employees also usually have lots of knowledge when it comes to nutrition.

We suggest mixing up wet and dry food, as each provide different health benefits for your cat. It may seem tempting to buy the bargain bag of food for your kitty, but investing in better food will save you lots of time and money in the long run. Maintaining your cat’s health over time is better than waiting for something to go wrong and having to spend on emergency medical expenses. You’ll likely need to buy one standard bag each month, or you can buy in bulk. As far as litter goes, there are many types to choose from, and some picky cats may only accept certain types of litter for their potty. Clay-based litter is the most common, followed by clumping, crystal, and biodegradable types. For our definitive guide to choosing litter, click here.

Yearly cost of litter: $150-220
Yearly cost of food: $180-250

Sweet Kitten wearing a dollar bill bow with money draped around her.The Cat: The cost of adopting a cat varies, depending on the source that you’re getting Fluffy from. We always encourage shelter adoption over purchase from a breeder or a friend. Shelter cats are in immediate danger, as they are either doomed to euthanasia or life in a no-kill shelter, as opposed to cats that are already in a home and will likely be adopted out or kept by their current owner. Most shelter adoption fees cost less than $200, and can cost even less for adult cats or during special promotions.

When you adopt from the shelter, most cats have already been spayed and neutered, and many shelters offer promotions for discounts on your first veterinary visit. If you’re buying from a breeder, your cat could cost upwards of $500, depending on the breed that you’re looking for. If you have allergies and are desperate for feline companionship, hypoallergenic cats are out there, and can cost anywhere from $500-$20,000. That surprisingly large number comes from a provider of genetically-bred hypoallergenic cats from Allerca, the leader in designer hypoallergenic cats.

Shelter adoption: $50-200
Breeder adoption: $500-20,000

The first year of having your pet is always the most expensive, since you’ll have to purchase all the necessary goods and have some veterinarian procedures taken care of. We estimate that the first year of having a cat will cost you $800-2,000, depending on your particular situation and choices. After the first year, expenses range between $450-1,000. These estimates aren’t including any unforeseen expenses, like trips to the emergency room. A house-cat’s average lifespan is 15 years, so based on that number, the lifetime total of a cat is $7,500-15,000.