How Much Does it Cost to Own a Cat?
If you want to be a responsible cat owner (and I hope that you do), there is no such thing as a “free cat” nowadays. But compared to the cost of other pets, once you get beyond the initial veterinarian expense and buying the starter goodies, then cat ownership is relatively low-priced.
Cats are usually less expensive to take care of than dogs. Of course, there are those special situations if you adopt or buy a cat that has health issues and you need to buy medications or specific foods. That covers any type of pet you own, not just cats.
The initial expense of cat ownership includes whether you are adopting her from a shelter, buying a purebred, taking in a stray or answering an ad for “free” cats.
Purebred cats will cost quite a bit more than the other choices. Do not be surprised to pay hundreds of dollars up to $1000 for a purebred cat, especially if she is show quality.
Adopting from animal welfare agencies (shelters) averages $50 (includes health exam and shots) up to $150 – $200 (includes exam, shots, spay/neuter, perhaps micro-chipping). Be sure to ask how much it costs to adopt a cat and what that all includes so you are well aware from the start before eyeing up a cutie-pie to take home. In the long run, it is usually less expensive to adopt a cat that has already been sterilized than adopting one and having the surgery performed at a later date.
Spaying a female cat costs more than neutering a male cat because it’s more invasive and involved. Depending on where you live and what kind of veterinary facility you take your cat to, the costs vary by up to a hundred dollars. Price range: $100 to $250 (don’t forget males cost on the lower end of those figures).
NOTE: If you are trying to watch your pennies, it never hurts to call a few veterinary clinics and do price checks before even taking the cat in for her first visit, let alone diving into the spay/neuter procedure.
BEFORE you decide to bring home your new kitty, or if you opened up your home to a stray cat and need to take her to the vet, buy a cat carrier. You might be able to make do with a sturdy cardboard box with a few holes poked through it, but at some point it’s really nice to have an actual carrier. Whatever you do, DON’T try driving with a loose cat in your cat. That’s an accident waiting to happen. MANY styles of carriers are available. Average cost $35. I’ve seen the smallest, plastic carriers go for $15.
Buy these essential things before bringing your new cat home:
>Litter box ($5 to $20, many styles-some enclosed)
>Cat litter ($3 to $18, depending on quantity and brand)
>Cat food ($.40 to $.80 per small can; $6 to $9 for a five-pound bag of dry. If you choose specialized, natural cat food-the cost goes up.)
>Toys (a simple soft toy goes for about $3; various cool toys and interactive fun stuff available)
>Scratching post or scratching pad ($4 for very simple pads up to $20 for posts)
Other items you can buy, but are not essential for the immediate care of your cat the day you bring her home:
>Cat treats ($1.50 – $3)
>Fancy food and water bowls ($1.50 up to $5)
>Cat grooming supplies (brush – $3.50, ear wipes – $8, toenail clippers – $4)
>Cat bed ($10 to $25)
>Cat tower ($20 to $200 – they can be huge – like a high-rise building with many levels)
>More toys! ($1 to $20)
Another monthly cost you may consider adding on for your cat is for parasite control. Several brands and types are available. Topical treatments have become popular and many control several types of parasites, such as: fleas, ear mites and several varieties of worms. This cost can average $10 to $20 per month. I use Revolution on Jessie and feel relieved knowing I’m helping control any parasites that might want to invade her little body.
Future veterinary bills will include exams and vaccinations, usually on a yearly basis, but as the cat gets older, she may need to go more often. They can run anywhere from $60 to $160. If other health issues develop, just like with any other pet or even a human could have a problem pop up, then plan on additional trips to the vet. There is no way to give you an estimate of cost on unknown issues and what they may or may not involve.
Pet insurance is an option to help manage expensive animal costs, especially if you have several pets or ones with health problems that require constant trips to the vet.
Depending on where you live and the laws in effect for your area, animal registration fees may have to be paid. These are usually a one or three year fee. My area in Illinois is $10 up to $30 for a one-year animal registration fee. The lower amount is for a sterilized pet.
And another option/cost to consider is micro-chipping your pet. Perhaps she already had that done before you got her. To have a pet micro-chipped is an extremely simple process and costs a one-time fee of about $30 to $40. There could be a yearly fee depending on the microchip program she is enrolled in, averaging $17 per year.
If you want to go one step farther, or choose not to microchip, you could buy a personalized name tag and attach it to her collar. These vary in size, color and design. Average cost for personalized tag is $10. Collar average cost is $2 to $5.
NOTE: The costs listed are average. Depending on what part of the country you live in and where you buy from could make a difference in prices. Not everything listed here is an absolute requirement to take care of your cat. Shop around, make some things at home with items you already have, space out purchases and expenses so you’re not overwhelmed, look for specials – even vet offices have coupons on services (look in the telephone book). But once you have your bundle of joy bouncing around your house, you may actually find it difficult to control your spending as you spoil her rotten.
Jessie says: Whew! Well, you asked what it cost to have a cat and now you know!
Gina says: We wanted to cover everything I personally had as an expense and a few other options, too. Jessie was a stray, so taking ownership of her didn’t cost a penny, BUT almost everything else listed here, I did have as an expense. And she has about 12 toys now! Some I’ve made and several I’ve bought. Her favorite is a soft mouse filled with catnip.