Dogs are the most popular pet in America, but cats aren’t too far behind as the second favorite house pet with more than 42 million households keeping at least one feline pet. Cats can be a bit easier to care for than dogs since they don’t require quite as much attention. You don’t even have to walk a cat or let it out to do its business.
Cats also don’t eat too much since they’re rather small, which helps keep their overall care costs low. Exactly how much you should plan to spend on your pet cat is a topic we’ll discuss further in this article. But first, we’re going to cover the costs of bringing a new cat home and the many factors to consider when constructing your budget. By the end, you’ll be well prepared to add a new feline to your family, with a solid and accurate estimate of how much you should expect to spend.
Bringing Home a New Cat: One-Time Costs
When bringing a new cat home, there are some obvious costs, including the cost of purchasing your kitty. There are also less obvious costs, such as the initial supplies your cat will require or first-time veterinarian visits. These are one-time costs that you’ll have to cover when first getting a new cat, but you shouldn’t have to pay for these particular items again.
There are many feral cats on the streets, and many people have more cats than they can care for. Cats sometimes give birth unexpectedly, leading to a litter of kittens in need of care. In many situations, you can benefit from these circumstances by getting one of these cats for free. Check the classifieds around your area to see if anyone is advertising kittens that they’re giving away. You might get lucky and find one to bring home free of charge!
If you can’t find a free cat, adoption is an option that costs quite a bit less than purchasing a feline from a breeder. You can check local shelters and humane societies for available cats. Often, you’ll have a fairly decent selection to choose from. Adoption fees range from a mere $15 to a couple hundred, but often, other needs will be covered in that price, such as vaccinations, routine healthcare examinations, or even spaying/neutering.
Purchasing a cat from a reputable breeder is the most expensive way of adding a feline to your family, but it does come with some benefits. If the cat is purebred, you may get papers proving its pedigree. You could even purchase a show-quality cat from a breeder, though this would cost significantly more than your average pet-quality cat.
Initial Setup and Supplies
When you’re considering purchasing a new cat, the cost of additional supplies is often overlooked, and these can be a major expense. If you’re really lucky and you adopted a cat from the right place, you might be able to forgo some of the main expenses associated with new cats, such as vaccinations, microchipping, and spaying/neutering. Otherwise, you’ll have to factor in these costs, as well as accessories like litter boxes, food and water bowls, toys, a carrier, and more.
List of Cat Care Supplies and Costs
|ID Tag and Collar||$15|
|Nail Clipper (optional)||$7|
|Food and Water Bowls||$10|
How Much Does a Cat Cost Per Month?
$50–$100 per month
So far, the costs we’ve covered are one-time costs associated with bringing a new cat home. But there are still monthly expenditures that you’ll need to account for, including food, healthcare, and more. Over time, these can add up to a substantial amount. It’s worth understanding all of these costs prior to purchasing a cat, so they don’t catch you by surprise. Also, be aware that monthly costs can be much higher in the first year of cat ownership, and factors such as the cat’s age, breed, and gender can also have an effect.
$50–$380 per month
Certain costs will be recurring, and you’ll need to be prepared to cover them every month. Food will be a major consideration, as will vet visits and grooming. Granted, the cost of each can vary drastically, depending on what your budget looks like and the quality of care you wish to provide for your cat.
$30–$90 per month
When determining how much to budget for your cat’s food, you need to consider the size of your cat. Larger cats will naturally eat more than smaller cats, making their food expenses greater. You’ll also see major discrepancies in the prices of food from different manufacturers. You might be able to get away with spending just $1 on your cat’s food each day, or you could spend $3 per day for premium options being fed to a larger cat, adding up to between $30 and $90 each month.
$0–$50 per month
Grooming needs are largely dependent on your cat’s coat, which is often breed-specific. Some cats require very little grooming, and you’ll only have to figure in the cost of a hairbrush. Thankfully, hairbrushes don’t need to be replaced too often. But some cats have long coats that are likely to get matted and tangled, even with regular brushing. They will sometimes need professional grooming and haircuts, which can cost a substantial amount, depending on what you want. Additionally, it can be difficult to trim a cat’s nails, so you may require professional help in that department as well.
Medications and Vet Visits
$0–$150 per month
If you’re lucky and everything goes as planned, your cat won’t require any medications or regular vet visits, other than the occasional checkup to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Of course, things don’t always go as we hope. If your cat gets sick or has a health condition later in life, it may require regular vet visits and daily medication, so this category can range in cost from nothing to quite a bit.
$10–$30 per month
Pet insurance is entirely optional, but if your cat happens to get injured or sick, pet insurance can help to offset the veterinary bills. Luckily, pet insurance is pretty affordable, particularly for cats. You could spend just $10 per month, or you could spend a bit more for extensive coverage that will ensure your cat’s medical needs will be covered in case of any emergency.
$0–$50 per month
Again, pet rent isn’t going to be paid by every cat owner. If you own your home, then you won’t have to worry about pet rent. But if you’re a renter, then pet rent will likely be added to your monthly rent. On average, pet rent costs $25 per pet, so if you have two cats, you could pay $50 per month in pet rent.
$0–$25 per month
Keeping your cat’s environment clean is essential if you want to avoid unpleasant odors. Litter boxes will need to be replaced only occasionally, provided they’re kept up well. Litter box liners can help to keep litter boxes clean and hygienic, and they’ll cost you only a few bucks per month. Even though cats clean themselves often, they can still emit enough odors to warrant a deodorizing spray that can help to alleviate smells so you don’t notice them. You might also provide cardboard scratchers for your cats that can help to keep their nails trim while providing entertainment.
|Litter box liners||$5/month|
|Deodorizing spray or granules||$10/month|
$20–$50 per month
If you want to keep your cat healthy and happy, you’re going to need to provide ample entertainment to keep it engaged and help alleviate boredom. There are many ways to do this, but various toys are often the best choices. Cats are pretty hard on their toys though, so you’ll need to replace them quite often.
You can pick out individual toys for your cat each time, or you could save some time with a monthly cat box subscription. You’ll pay a monthly fee, and each month, a box of cat toys will show up to keep your cat entertained. These are generally pretty affordable, with an average cost of about $25 providing ample enjoyment for your feline.
Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Cat
$60–$100+ per month
When it comes to monthly costs associated with keeping a cat, food is going to be the big one for most people. You can’t escape the cost of food, though you can reduce it based on the foods you choose. Other monthly costs, such as healthcare, entertainment, insurance, pet rent, and more, are going to vary widely between households. You’ll have to determine which of these is most important to you and base your budget on the needs of your family and feline. Keeping a cat doesn’t have to be expensive, but it certainly can be.
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Additional Costs to Factor In
In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any hidden costs involved with keeping your pet cat. As we all know, we don’t live in a perfect world, so you can throw that dream out the window. In all likelihood, you’ll have to cough up some cash to cover a few unexpected costs. Some of these may include:
Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with most of these, but in the case that you do, it’s best not to be caught by surprise!
Owning a Cat on a Budget
If you’re on a tight budget but still want a cat, you’ll have to get a bit creative, but you’re definitely not out of luck. You can find cats for free on classified sites like Craigslist or adopt one from a local shelter that might even have vaccinations or other healthcare costs covered already. You can also find the items you’ll need for immediate care at a discount if you look around. Instead of buying them new, you could shop around at yard sales where you might find the necessary feline supplies for just a few bucks! Don’t worry, your cat won’t fault you for buying used goods.
Saving Money on Cat Care
Some people can spend hundreds of dollars on their cats each month, but that’s not necessary to keep a cat healthy and happy. Cats don’t need all that much, so you can keep one on a budget if you shop smart. You’ll need to do some research and figure out which cat foods provide the best bang for your buck. Picking certain foods over others can save you a substantial amount each month. You can also do grooming and maintenance yourself. Performing your cat’s haircuts and nail trims, for example, can save quite a bit of money overpaying a professional.
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Cats are cost-effective pets to keep. Even adding one to your family can be rather affordable. If you want to purchase a feline from a reputable breeder, you’ll need at least $500, maybe even more than $1,000. But you can also find cats for free or adopt one for a very small investment. You also need to get some supplies when you first purchase your cat. These could cost you $150 or more, but you can also find them cheaper if you look for used items at a discounted price.
Once your cat is home, you’ll need to consider monthly costs for food, grooming, healthcare, and more. Your costs could be as little as $50 in this department if you price shop for your cat’s food and perform grooming and maintenance yourself. Occasionally, random costs could also occur, such as veterinary bills to cover injuries and illness or pet sitters when you go on vacation, but these should be few and far between.
If you’re looking for a specific price, we have detailed information on the Cost of Owning a Chartreux Cat!
Featured Image Credit: Andreas Lischka, Pixabay