How Much Does It Cost to Keep a Cat?
In our last blog article, ‘Cat Adoption Part 3: What to Expect’ we briefly discussed the cost of keeping a cat. Above all, prospective cat parents need to be fully aware of the costs.
Furthermore, they need to be willing and able to pay for them. Assessing the costs in advance and being prepared for them will define the long-term health and stability of your relationship with your cat.
Initial, Regular, and Emergency Costs
As promised, this article will go into further detail and give you a well-rounded checklist of all major costs to consider. We’ll be covering initial and regular expenses, as well as emergency costs. The estimates are in US dollars, but are roughly applicable to Canadian cat owners and serve as a good guide for both.
Keeping It Simple
We’re going to keep this discussion simple by mostly focusing on itemized price ranges. There will be items we will clarify, but for the most part, this is intended as an essentials checklist.
The price ranges per month, year, or both, are gathered from various sources, referenced at the end of this article. And where applicable, we are using our products as a pricing guide, from lowest to highest. In those places, we will link to our product pages for easy reference.
A Pricing Guide and a Second Opinion
We hope that this resource gives you a well-rounded, holistic idea of what to expect in terms of pricing on essential and additional cat ownership expenses.
This can be helpful when receiving quotes regarding insurance and dental care, as these areas can yield a lot of variances, depending on who you ask.
A second opinion is great when you’re being mindful of your budget but also weary of bargain-barrel pricing. This guide will help you make good decisions with a fair range of price estimates in mind.
After you’ve read this article you’ll have a realistic understanding of what to expect financially when adopting a cat.
Let’s get to it!
Since the average cat’s lifespan ranges from around 13 to 20 years, your budget must span across this period. But keep in mind that cats can live far longer! The world’s oldest cat, Creme Puff, was 38 years old when she died in 2005.
For this reason, taking care of a cat should factor into long-term financial planning. As many parents put aside a college fund for their children at birth, cat parents should consider an emergency fund for their cats, too.
Initial Costs at Adoption ($700-1900)
Cat Essentials Part 1
Adoption Fee* $50-175
*Some adoption fees will include some of the above fees. Deworming, for instance, will certainly have been conducted well before the cat was available for adoption.
**Spay-neuter clinics might be free or might be very low cost, with a cat spay ranging anywhere from $50 to $150, and cat neuter ranging anywhere from $25 to $75. However, these costs might not cover necessary add-ons to make these serious surgeries comfortable for your cat. Since these are one-time, essential health expenses, look for the best and safest care rather than budget for the cheapest.
Cat Essentials Part 2
Flea/Tick prevention $30-60
Microchip $25 (with lifetime registration)
Pet License* $10-20
*There are some pretty strong and convincing arguments against required cat licensing laws, as outlined by Alley Cat Allies. According to research, the laws do nothing to ensure spaying and neutering.
And even more concerning: “Cat licensing programs target all cats without tags for impoundment by animal control...If a cat doesn’t wear a collar or her collar slips off or breaks away—as nearly all cat collars are designed to do to prevent strangulation—there is no way to identify her and she will be treated as a stray.”
Still, cat licenses are often mandated by law and overall, are highly recommended to ensure your cat's safety.
Food and Litter
Food & Litter Monthly Expenses
Food & Litter One-Time Expenses
Litter box $25-50
Litter disposal system (brush) $10-$40
Toys, Grooming and Final Initial Expenses
Regular Monthly/Annual Costs (CA$600-$1800)
Pet Insurance $10-100 US/mo, average is $30-50/month or $250/year
Apartment pet deposit 40-85% of your rent and/or
Monthly pet rent $50/mo
Professional grooming/bath $30-50 with possible add-ons like:
Nail trimming $25
Ear cleaning $5
Dental tools and treats ($10-100 for a toothbrush and toothpaste for cats, dental pet food, chew toys, Matatabi Silvervine Sticks)
Dental visit $70-400, average $250
Toys $25-100 year
Essential Monthly Medical Maintenance
Heartworm prevention $20 US/mo
Flea/Tick prevention $30-60 US/mo
Medical supplements/vitamins for long-term preventative care: This will depend on your cat's needs and your lifestyle and budget, which we'll explore in later articles.
Tapeworm Treatment $33
Routine veterinarian visits $30-230 (From Physical Exam and possibly including the following Minor Medical Care Package, Intestinal Parasite Screening, Adult Wellness Bloodwork, Feline Retroviral Test (FeLV/FIV))
Additional/Emergency Expenses (CA$600-$3000)
Emergency Veterinarian $600-3000
We have estimated the cost of an emergency to match the average for the entire category. Because kittens can get into any number of tangles and accidents, it can be a good idea to budget for multiple minor events, just in case.
Dental Care $250-3000
There is a huge variance in quotes across discussion boards. It seems that getting a second opinion is always a good idea, although an average cost of around $300-750 seems to be quite common for a healthy cat.
Pet sitting/boarding (vacations) $25-85 (per single day-single overnight)
Replacing furniture/rugs/from scratching damage ($120/year furniture protectors - $2000 by some estimates)
Special Needs Considerations
Geriatric Cat Care ($110 for Senior Full Wellness Medical Checkup)
Recommended cats over age 7 for preventative measures to understand any issues that arise associated with aging.
Many shelters take care of cats with special needs who are as deserving of a good home as any other cat. Caring for these cats will require additional medical expenses such as long-term medication and prosthetic maintenance, as examples.
Breed Specific Concerns
Chances are your cat’s adoption story has a breeding story behind it, too. In our first blog post about adoption, we went into why breeding has generally fallen out of favor and why we don't care for it much, either.
In particular, breeding has resulted in diseases, special needs, and ailments specific to certain breeds. For instance, Balinese cats commonly suffer from asthma and Javanese cats are known to develop lymphoma.
When adopting these breeds, you should be aware of and research any associated illnesses. Luckily, with proper diet, care, and environment, no cat need ever fulfill a sad genetic legacy.
Summary: How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Cat?
Let’s finish with brass tacks. A good budget for an adoption startup cost will be $2500. This is a good averaging of initial and some essential monthly costs.
From then on, $1000/year, without emergencies, ought to have your bases covered, with a little splurge on the side. If you’re being budget-conscious, instead of splurging, roll that over into your emergency fund.
This $3000 emergency fund for a medical or dental emergency that needs to be dealt with immediately will save you a lot of grief. If you’re able to, it can be a good idea to set this fund aside into a conservative investment account or a high-interest savings account. This way you’ll think of it as you would a child’s college fund.
So, overall, a good start-up cost to get your cat’s adoption started hassle-free is $6500. Any savings you incur, roll that over for the emergency fund. You’ll feel super-good knowing that your favorite feline is safe and protected no matter what.
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