Becoming a cat parent entails a huge responsibility. It is like having a young child in your life that is dependent on you for its survival and care. This means you have to make sure they are well-nourished, are healthy, and are happy and content in your home. It may sound simple enough, but there are pet parents who give up their kitties in the first year of pet parenthood alone. Their reason? They couldn’t keep up with the financial impact of owning a pet and becoming its parent. As such, before you purchase or adopt a cat to bring to your house, make sure you understand the cost of owning a feline pet on an annual basis.
The Cost of Owning a Cat the First Time
There are two ways you can bring one home. If you purchase a cat from a reputable pet shop, you will be spending several hundred up to a few thousand dollars depending on the breed. For example, a British Shorthair can cost you anywhere between $500 and $1,500. The Russian Blue can set you back anywhere from $400 to $3,000 while the hybrid Ashera can sell for $15,000 to $100,000. Ordinary domestic cats can still cost up to a few hundred dollars.
The second method of owning a cat is by adopting one. This, too, entails some costs. This is despite advertisements saying you can bring home a cat for free. For starters, there’s an adoption fee to consider. There is no fixed amount as to how much potential pet parents should pay as adoption fee. This can range from several tens to a few hundreds of dollars.
Some animal shelters already include a range of pet-specific services in the adoption fee. These can include the following.
- Neutering or spaying – $120 to $150
- Initial medical examination – $50 to $150
- Microchipping – $40 to $50
Adopting a cat from an animal shelter or animal welfare organization is better than getting a cat somewhere else. Shelters screen the pets before they can be made available for adoption. Getting a pet cat from a neighbor or someone else often means you have to take care of these initial health screening procedures yourself.
One-Time Costs in the First Year of Cat Ownership
The first year of cat ownership is often the costliest. This is understandable since it is your first time to bring home a feline pet. This means you don’t have any of the essential accessories yet like food, cat bed, food bowl, drinking fountain, and litter box. You also don’t have cat toys and scratching posts yet. These are substantial purchases that can run in the hundreds of dollars overall. Here are one-time costs that you’ll need to prepare for.
Cat Feeders and Drinking Stations
Your kitty needs to eat and drink. Depending on the product you choose, you can pay anywhere between $5 and $15 for a cat food bowl. If you will bring home more than one cat, then it is important to buy a bowl for each one.
Water is also important for cats. You can choose an ordinary water bowl for pets or a pet drinking fountain. Most cat parents prefer using a cat water fountain since it’s more enticing for the cat. It also solves some of the issues inherent in stagnant water. A good cat water fountain can set you back from $25 to $50. You should have at least two of these drinking stations in your house to help your kitty drink more water.
Cat Litter Box
Litter training is important every time you bring home a cat. After all, you don’t want the cat to turn your house into its personal toilet.
You can get a good litter box for as low as $5. This is your basic plastic box. There are also fancier litter boxes with self-flushing or self-cleaning mechanisms. These can set you back by as much as $230, not to mention its installation costs. If you want to economize, utilizing an old cardboard box can be a good choice. The issue with this is that your cat’s urine may saturate the bottom.
Cat Crate and Bed
You may think that cats don’t need a bed but they do. You will also need a pet crate to put your pet into when you travel. It can also be beneficial when bringing your cat to the vet for its regular checkup or in emergency situations.
Cat beds can cost you around $15 to $70. There are those that come with fancy materials while there are also those that feature more luxurious components. A pet crate for cats can set you back from $30 to $90, depending on the type of crate you’re going to buy.
Cats also need a scratching post, unless it’s okay for you that it will scratch your furniture, carpet, or other items in your house. It is natural for cats to scratch since this is their way to keep their claws in tiptop shape. It’s also a great way to stretch their back while keeping them from getting bored.
A good scratching post can set you back by around $30. However, there are those that may come at a lower price. There are also scratching posts that can cost you about $60, often depending on the material used. Like everything else, you can make a scratching post for your kitty, provided you already have used materials at home. Otherwise, you will still have to purchase the individual materials.
This may not be a one-time purchase, but cat toys are always included as expenditure in the first year of cat ownership. These can give cats the exercise and mental stimulation that they need.
Depending on the cat toy that you buy, get ready to shell out a few dollars to several tens of dollars. Feather teaser toys can cost around $10 to $15 while cat tunnels can cost you around $16 to $30. There are cat toy manufacturers that can give you better value by providing an assortment of cat toys in one package. These can be in the price range of $10 to $30. For a wider selection of choices, check out our interactive cat toys guide.
While not an absolute must, a cat tower is a nice thing to have for your pet. Why? Well, this kitty furniture already combines a number of accessories that cats need. It’s a multi-floor playground. There are also sections that can double as sleeping quarters or bed for your kitty. A good cat tower can also come with a scratching post or panel.
Cat towers, owing to their size and complexity, are often pricier than other kitty accessories and furniture. A good cat tower can have a price tag of about $130 to $150. There are also smaller versions of towers with fewer elements that you can have for $45 to $90.
Keep in mind that these “one-time” purchases may not last the lifetime of your kitty. Many of these are subject to wear and tear. Their integrity is also dependent on how well you take care of these items. As such, regular maintenance can help you prolong the lifespan of these objects.
Recurring Expenses on a Yearly Basis
Every year, you will be spending around several hundreds of dollars on feline care. The typical expenses are as follows.
Cat Food and Treats
The cost of feline nutrition is dependent on the type of cat food you give, the age of the cat, and any inherent medical condition that your cat has.
In general, wet cat foods are costlier than cat kibbles. They also spoil very fast. As such, cats need to consume wet cat food at once. If there are any leftovers and these are not stored properly, then you can consider these as wastes. A typical wet cat food can cost you around $300 to $500 per year, often depending on the brand. On the other hand, feeding your cat kibbles can cost you about $120 to $250 per year, again depending on the brand.
Smaller breeds of cats as well as kittens will consume less food than adults and larger breeds. Senior cats may also consume less food. However, since senior cats often present with health problems, they may need special diets. These can cost you more. On that note, any cat that requires a special type of diet often entails greater cost. Find out more about senior cat food here.
Don’t forget cat treats. These serve as your kitty’s snacks or as training aids.
We already mentioned the cat litter box as an initial one-time purchase. We didn’t include the cat litter itself because you’ll replace this very often. Cat litter comes in different types. The cheapest is non-clumping litter while the most expensive ones are those that feature gels. A typical clumping litter can cost $20 to $30 per box. This should be good for about 3 to 4 months. This brings your annual expenses to $60 to $120.
If you adopted a cat from the shelter, there’s a good chance that it is already vaccinated. If not, then you have to include this in the initial cost of vaccination for cats. If you got a kitten that’s less than a year old, then you will need at least 5 to 6 vaccine shots.
For adult cats, the cost of vaccination on a yearly basis depends on the frequency of the booster dose. There are vaccine boosters that are given every 3 years. There are also those administered every year.
It is best to bring your adult cat to the vet at least once a year. Many pet parents recommend once every six months. This can cost you about $65 to $150 every year. This is the veterinary cost for healthy cats.
Unfortunately, there will always be instances when you have to bring your kitty to the vet because of an emergency or an unanticipated illness. This will set you back by about $100 and upwards. Depending on the illness of your cat, the costs can come from diagnostic tests, hospitalization, and veterinary or surgical procedures.
You will also have to include here other treatments that cats can receive. For example, flea and tick treatments are a must. If your cat doesn’t have a microchip yet, then it’s best to have one inserted. Spaying and neutering are also recommended. The management of cat allergies is also a veterinary expense. Head over to our review of the best flea treatment for cats for more choices.
Getting a pet insurance makes perfect sense. It’s your safety net in case your cat falls ill and requires extensive veterinary care and hospitalization. These procedures can run in the thousands of dollars. As such, getting pet insurance is always a sound advice.
Different pet insurance providers offer different programs. There are those that don’t accept cats with preexisting medical conditions. There are also those that do not cover behavioral or non-medical treatments. It is best to explore your options so you can get the best deal for your cat. On the average, pet insurance can cost you as low as $150 to as high as $400 every year.
Consider this as a slash fund for your kitty. It’s a contingency fund. You will never know if you’ll need a cat sitter or a cat behaviorist to help in the care of your cat. It is wise to allot about $500 as a contingency fund for your cat every year.
Summing It Up
Owning a cat entails costs. There are initial and one-time expenses and there are also recurring ones. Here’s to sum up what we’ve discussed so far.
- Cost of cat purchase – Free to $100,000
- Cost of adoption – $15 to $200, depending on the cat and shelter. If all other medical expenses are already included in the adoption fee, it costs higher.
- One-time purchases in the first year – $145 to $625
- Recurring expenses on an annual basis – $395 to $1,670
Becoming a cat parent is not cheap. It is important to understand the implications of these costs. Not only will you be putting a burden on your financial capacity; it can also affect your cat in a negative way.