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How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Cat from a Shelter? 2023 Price Guide

Jana Blagojevic

By Jana Blagojevic

adopting a cat from shelter

Adoption can be a beautiful, joyful, but somewhat stressful experience for both the owner and the cat. While you will provide your new cat with a much better life filled with love, they will also need time to get used to their new environment and learn to trust you. While adoption is a gratifying experience, you must be aware of all the expenses that may await. Besides the initial fee of adopting a cat from a shelter, you will also need to set aside a monthly budget for your cat and some additional costs that come with adoption. Your cat needs everything to make this experience enjoyable, such as new delicious food, comfortable bedding, and fun toys. You can expect to pay between $70-$225 for a kitten, $25-$100 for an adult cat, and $0-$75 for a senior cat.

Read the article below to learn the exact cost of adopting a cat from a shelter in the USA and how much you can expect to give on additional charges.

The Importance of Adopting a Cat

There are several significant advantages of adopting a pet instead of buying one. One of the most important benefits is that you’ll contribute to lowering the population of homeless cats.

Adopting pets is important because it can help make more space in shelters for stray cats. Thousands of cats are euthanized yearly because of the lack of space and funds to take them in and provide them with health care. Adopting a cat gives it a second chance at life.

Cat welcomes his owner at home
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

How Much Does Adopting a Cat from a Shelter Cost?

The prices of adopting a cat from a shelter depend on various factors. The most crucial factor influencing the price is the location where you want to adopt. As you can see in the chart below, the West Coast has the biggest fee for adopting kittens and adult cats, while other areas of the US are more affordable. Also, the price varies significantly depending on the age of your adopted cat.

Kittens are usually more expensive to adopt than adult or senior cats because there is a lot more care that goes into keeping a kitten. The shelter will need to take care of most medical procedures, such as the initial vaccines, spaying and neutering, and microchipping, some of the costs the fee covers.

Shelter Adoption Fees West Coast Midwest South East Coast
Kittens $125–$225 $74–$125 $100–$150 $50–$174
Adult Cats $75–$110 $25–$100 $25–$50 $75–$100
Senior Cats $0–$35 $0–$75 $25 $25

Additional Costs to Anticipate

There are various additional costs to consider when adopting a cat from a shelter. Besides the initial fees and potential medical costs, you will need to ensure your cat has everything they need to settle in the new home. You must provide your cat with its peaceful nook—a place where it can sleep, rest, and feel safest.

Your adopted cat will also need a litter box and the litter will need to be replaced regularly, which can cost up to $40 a month.

Regarding food prices, depending on the type, you can expect to spend anywhere between $100 and $500 per year. Suppose your adopted cat has chronic medical conditions such as food sensitivities, allergies, or digestive issues. In that case, they may need a special prescription diet, which will cost a fair bit more.

You will also need cat food and water bowls, carriers, collars, tags, harnesses, leashes, and toys.

How to Find a Cat for Adoption?

You can start your search for a cat to adopt in a few ways. Since we are talking about adopting a cat from a shelter, looking at local shelters is the best way to begin your search. Sometimes, you can visit them and find a cat on the spot, while other times, you might need to go through their online webpage. You may need to fill out some forms or schedule an appointment in advance.

Cat and woman owners holding cats in shelter to adopt
Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock

What to Do for Your Cat After Adopting?

The first thing you can do for your cat after you bring it home from the shelter is to allow them a few days to settle in. Your cat has probably had an unpleasant past in the shelter or the street, so it will need time to get used to the new environment. Give your cat enough space to feel safe, and most importantly, ensure your home is peaceful and quiet for the first few days. Some cats from the shelter might have experienced some traumatic events and may need more time to start feeling at home.

If you have other pets in the house, keeping them separated while your new cat settles in is best. A general rule of thumb says it’s best to give your cat 2 weeks to settle in, avoiding contact with other pets. If you give your new cat a corner of the house that belongs to them, they will gradually widen their territory and won’t feel threatened by other cats.


Adopting a cat from a shelter is an enriching experience that creates the strongest possible bond between your pet and yourself. While shelters offer a fantastic way to help out pets and ensure they get a better life, they require an adoption fee, which helps them run their fantastic organization. These initial fees ensure shelters have enough funds to take care of their pets, and adopting is an amazing way to provide more room for pets to be taken off the streets.

Featured Image Credit: JW Design, Shutterstock

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