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How Much Does It Cost to Own a Tortoiseshell Cat? (2023 Update)

Elizabeth Gray

By Elizabeth Gray

tortoiseshell cat up close

Tortoiseshell cats are a color type, not a breed, which means you’ll find them represented by purebred felines and hybrid cats. These beautiful cats are popular for their striking black-and-orange coats and famous (infamous?) for having a bit of an attitude or “tortitude.” Thanks to the genetics required to produce the torties’ coats, they’re almost always females. If you’re interested in adding one of these gorgeous girls to your family, keep reading to find out how much it costs to own a tortoiseshell cat in 2023.

Bringing Home a New Tortoiseshell Cat: One-Time Cost

The biggest one-time expense you’ll have is when bringing home a new tortoiseshell cat. You’ll be paying the costs of acquiring the cat, as well as stocking up on all the supplies your new kitty will need. However, because torties come in several breeds, these start-up costs can vary widely.


Free tortoiseshell cats may come from friends or family members who can’t keep their pets anymore. Sometimes, vets need to find homes for cats surrendered by their original owners as well. And, of course, you might find a stray tortoiseshell cat wandering outside. Even if you get the cat for free, keeping a kitty is never cost-free, as you’ll learn when you keep reading.


  • $40–$320

Tortoiseshell cats may be available for adoption from local animal shelters or breed-specific rescues if they are purebred cats, such as a Maine Coon. Adoption fees vary quite a bit. Typically, private rescues have higher fees than public shelters. Adoption fees usually cover some veterinary costs, such as shots and possibly spay and neuter surgery.


  • $300–$2,000

If you purchase a purebred tortoiseshell cat, your costs will depend on the breed and whether they are a pet or show-quality animal. Some breeders will charge extra for a cat if they know you plan on breeding them. Because many purebred cats are prone to inherited health conditions, including heart and kidney problems, look for a breeder who performs the recommended screening tests before breeding a cat. Reputable breeders should be able to provide a full health history of your new kitten and a health guarantee.

tortoiseshell cat in the grass
Image Credit: Pixabay

Initial Setup and Supplies

  • $546–$1,151

If you’ve already owned a cat, you may already have many of these supplies. If not, this chart will give you a basic idea of the items you might need and the average cost. Veterinary costs will probably be the biggest initial expense and may vary quite a bit depending on where you live.

List of Tortoiseshell Cat Care Supplies and Costs

City License $10
Spay/Neuter $100–$500
Shots $100–$200
Fecal Check $20–$50
Microchip $15–$45
Flea Preventative $140–$185
Bed $15
Nail Clipper (optional) $8
Brush (optional) $16
Litter Box $20
Litter Scoop $15
Toys $25
Carrier $50
Food and Water Bowls $12

How Much Does a Tortoiseshell Cat Cost Per Month?

  • $137–$515 per month

Of course, those one-time costs are just the beginning of what you’ll be spending on your tortoiseshell cat! When planning your budget, you’ll need to account for regular monthly spending on such needs as food, vet visits, and grooming. Depending on the breed, age, and even coat length, these costs won’t be the same for every tortoiseshell cat.

Health Care

  • $42–$395 per month

Health care costs could be any expense related to keeping your kitty alive and happy, whether it’s tasty meals or flea preventatives. If you get your tortoiseshell cat as a kitten, you can expect health care costs to be more during the first year. Older cats typically have more expenses as they age.

british fold tortoiseshell cat on a tree stump
Image Credit: Denys R, Shutterstock


  • $12–$80 per month

If you’ve spent any time in a pet store recently, you know the brands and types of cat food available vary wildly in price. More expensive food isn’t always healthier either, so don’t feel pressured to blow your healthcare budget here. Your vet can offer recommendations of high-quality brands to consider. If your cat has or develops health care problems, you may need to pay more for a prescription diet.


  • $0–$70 per month

Tortoiseshell cats can come in short and longhaired coat types. Shorthaired kitties probably won’t need any extra grooming besides what you can provide at home with the brush and nail clippers you bought as part of start-up costs. Longhaired cats may need the occasional trip to the groomer for a trim, bath, or even full-body trim.

Medications and Vet Visits

  • $15–$200 per month

Whether or not they go outside, your tortoiseshell cat should be on a monthly parasite prevention medication. Other monthly vet expenses will vary depending on whether your cat has ongoing health issues or it’s time for their annual exam and vaccines.

Again, older cats are likely to have higher monthly health care costs from long-term medications or additional procedures like blood tests and dental cleanings.

tortoiseshell cat
Image Credit: IMG Stock Studio, Shutterstock

Pet Insurance

  • $15–$45 per month

Like pet food, your options for pet insurance are far more extensive than they were even a decade ago. The hardest costs to budget for are emergency or unexpected veterinary expenses, and a pet insurance policy can help you afford your tortoiseshell cat’s care. Compare costs between policies to get your cat the most coverage at the best price. Enrolling a kitten is usually the cheapest option, so get your new baby signed up as soon as possible.

Environment Maintenance

  • $95–$120 per month

Besides health care costs, you’ll need to budget to replace various items your cat will use or wear out regularly. Not all of these will need to be replaced monthly, but this chart should give you an idea of what you’ll be spending each month to keep your tortoiseshell kitty’s home environment clean and entertaining.

Litter $25/month
Litter box liners $10/month
Cardboard Scratcher $35/month


  • $25–$50 per month

To keep your tortoiseshell cat mentally and physically active, you’ll need to provide them with various toys. Ideally, they’ll have options for self-guided play and toys you can use to play with your cat. Depending on the type of toy and how destructive your cat is, these items will need to be replaced regularly.

An easy way to budget for toy replacement and ensure your cat has new and exciting toys every month is to enroll your kitty in a subscription box service. These companies send your cat a personally curated box of toys and sometimes treats each month. Subscription boxes are growing in popularity, so you’ll have several options to choose from.

Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Tortoiseshell Cat

  • $137–$515 per month

While these numbers should give you a rough idea of how much it will cost to care for your tortoiseshell cat each month, the expenses may vary quite a bit. Some months, you may only pay for food and litter, while others could see high vet costs.

Additional Costs to Factor In

Aside from monthly costs, you’ll also need to plan for occasional expenses, such as boarding or pet sitters, if you go out of town. If you choose not to buy pet insurance, you’ll need a plan to cover emergency vet costs, such as a pet savings account. Other additional costs could include replacing carpet or furniture that your cat scratches to bits.

Dilute Tortoiseshell cat with yellow eyes
Image Credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock

Owning a Tortoiseshell Cat on a Budget

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the costs we’ve listed, there are ways to own a tortoiseshell cat on a tighter budget. The key is not compromising your cat’s health or care because you can’t afford something. Owning a pet shouldn’t be reserved only for people with unlimited resources, but you also don’t want to commit to a cat without knowing that you can afford what they’ll need. One significant way you can save money on your cat is by adopting or receiving the animal for free. We’ll discuss other ways to save money in the next section.

Saving Money on Tortoiseshell Cat Care

Many of the supplies you need for your tortoiseshell cat can be purchased used or found for free from other pet-owning friends. Ask your vet if they have a stash of supplies donated by people who’ve lost their cats recently. While vet care is often one of the most significant expenses you’ll have, most communities have low-cost options available. Check with your local animal shelter to see which services they offer.


You could pay anywhere from $0-$2000 or more to obtain your tortoiseshell cat. One-time costs of bringing home your cat, including initial supplies and vet care, could range from $546 to $1,151. Monthly costs may range from $137–$515 for the life of your pet. Many cat breeds can live well into their teens or even longer, and it is a long-term commitment when you bring home a tortoiseshell kitty. While your actual expenses will vary, and there are ways to save money on care, you’ll need to be realistic about what you can afford before adding a tortoiseshell cat to your family.

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Featured Image Credit: Jumpstory

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