9 Costs Every Cat Owner Should Budget for
Cats can be just as expensive as their canine counterparts.
Cats can be just as expensive as their canine counterparts. Owners can expect to shell out between $500 and $1,000 a year, with higher costs for treatment of disease or injury or if you’re a frequent traveler.
The good news is that cats require less grooming (they take care of much of it on their own), and they don’t require paid dog-walkers while you’re away. Outdoor cats are more susceptible to costly trauma than indoor cats, warns Dr. Louise Murray, vice-president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA) Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, in New York City. Domestic short-haired cats are usually the best value in the long run, she says.
Click through our slide show to learn about the expenses to consider before purchasing your loyal feline companion.
Sources: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA.org), PetEducation.com, Investopedia.com.
- Purchase Price: $50 - $750
- Spay/Neuter: $145
- Initial Medical Exam: $130
- Supplies: $120
Adoption is often the cheapest option when purchasing a cat. Adopted kittens from the ASPCA typically cost $125, while adult cats cost closer to $75. As with dogs, adopted kitties from reputable shelters often come already spayed/neutered, vaccinated and micro-chipped, helping cut initial medical expenses, which typically include deworming and basic blood tests. If you prefer to buy from a breeder, you could pay more than $750, depending on the breed and color.
- Annual cost: $115
You have the option to feed your friend dry food, wet food or both. Wet food may be a bit pricier, but it can be an important component of your kitty’s diet. Urinary tract infections are one of the most common health problems in cats, and they often result from too much dry food, according to Murray. Talk to your vet about the best feeding regimen for your cat.
- Annual cost: $25
Cats were born to hunt and will “prey” on a stuffed rabbit or toy mouse. Have a cardboard box or paper shopping bag lying around? That can keep a cat entertained for hours, especially while you’re away. Also be sure to set aside some time to have fun with your kitty when you’re home because it helps develop trust between cat and owner. Keep your kitty happy by finding interactive toys that both of you can play with, such as a laser pointer or a wand with a mouse attached to it.
- Annual cost: $165
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always pay to cut costs when it comes to kitty litter. If your cat prefers your brand-new rug to the feel or smell of his litter, it may mean bigger money problems for you in the long run. There are several types of litter on the market right now, including clay-based, crystal-based, plant-derived and clumping. Each has its own advantages, but it is ultimately up to your cat to decide what he is most comfortable with.
Routine Vet Care
- Annual cost: $160
Take your cat for annual physical exams, which can include vaccinations, heartworm prevention and topical flea/tick treatment. To save money, check out vet schools in your area; they often offer discounted rates.
Emergency Vet Care
An emergency not requiring surgery could cost about $2,000 to $3,000, according to Murray, while an accident requiring surgery often costs $3,000 to $5,000. Trauma and urinary tract infections are the two most common health problems in cats. Keep your cat indoors to reduce the likelihood that he will be hit by a car or attacked by, say, a coyote. Murray recommends setting up an emergency fund, putting aside a small amount of money each month to cover any unforeseen costs.
- Annual cost: $175
Insurance for your cat is optional; however, it may allow you to afford good care when you otherwise might not be able to. The ASPCA estimates that insurance costs about $175 per year; however, annual premiums vary depending on your cat’s breed and age, as well as your location and the amount of coverage you choose. A cat’s lifestyle is also an important factor in the pet insurance equation, as outdoor cats are more likely to be hit by a car or attacked by another animal, which could require costly surgery. Compare insurers at PetInsuranceReviews.org.
- Annual cost: $24
This estimate is just for supplies; grooming expenses increase significantly for long-haired felines. Bonnie’s Dog and Cat Grooming in southeast Washington, D.C., recommends professional grooming if your cat’s hair is badly matted, if your cat sheds a lot or if a family member is allergic to cat hair (prices vary depending on your location and the length and condition of the cat’s coat). Otherwise, you can probably economize and get away with a do-it-yourself regimen.
Travel Care/Kennel Boarding
Depending on how often you travel and whether you prefer to use a cat sitter who will visit your home or to board your cat at a kennel, this can be an important expense to consider. You could pay as little as $15 a night or as much as $60 a night, depending on your location and the type of boarding you choose for your pet. At Wagtime Pet Spa & Boutique in northwest Washington, D.C., cage-free boarding costs $53 per night. Figuring two weeks away from home each year at even as little as $20 a day for boarding, this could be a $280 annual expense or more.
To cut back on costs, if you have a friend who also owns a cat, see if they’ll take care of your kitty this time around and offer to take care of theirs the next time they go out of town.
Lifetime Ownership Costs
- First Year*: $930 - $2,060
- Yearly Total: $490 - $940 (plus unforeseen vet costs)
- Lifetime Total**: $7,760 - $15,260 (plus unforeseen vet costs)
Overall, cats may be slightly less expensive than dogs. We know these costs won’t be the same for everybody, so please share your experiences via the Comments box below.
* The low end of the ranges excludes all optional costs; the high end includes all optional costs.
** Based on the average 15-year lifespan for an indoor cat.