Cat ownership brings joy to many households, with a kitty providing warmth, love and a mischievous sense of fun.
But anyone new to having a feline in their lives may initially feel a little overwhelmed with the responsibilities and costs involved.
Emma Herring, Senior Brand Manager at pet food suppliers Webbox, suggests the costs of owning a cat can vary a lot depending on a number of factors, “including their breed, pedigree, and health.”
She told Newsweek: “Despite being relatively independent animals, cats are a major financial commitment, so make sure you can comfortably afford a furry friend before taking them home.”
The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) vet Lynne James agrees, adding: “Of course, our cats are worth every penny, but it’s important to know what potential costs could be involved.”
How much do cats cost? Newsweek asked the experts.
What to Know About the Costs of Owning a Cat
Doron Wolffberg, Founder of online feline experts All About Cats, believe there are three main points to consider before purchasing your first cat.
First, it is worth appreciating the difference between giving your cat the best and buying things because they make you feel like a good pet owner.
He told Newsweek: “There’s a whole world of cat care products that are certainly not necessary and most of the time, they are more enjoyable for the human than the cat who’s receiving them.
“For example, toys are fun, but most cats are perfectly capable of finding their own toys around the house.
“Cats are just as happy sleeping in a blanket-lined cardboard box as they are snoozing in a sherpa-lined cat tunnel.
And if you can’t afford organic meats “Remember that non-organic species-appropriate food is much better than organic food that doesn’t honor your cat’s carnivorous needs.”
Similarly, when it is safe to do so, never be afraid to give cat things that do not have the word “cat” on the package.
They said: “It might seem easy to exclusively buy your cat products ‘made for cats’, but in reality, no cat has a problem using generic products that don’t have pawprints on them.
“Don’t let your love for your cat delude you into believing that any cat is happier with bowls, beds, treats, and toothbrushes sold specifically for pets.”
And finally, All About Cats suggests taking care to reduce a pet’s likelihood of getting sick or hurt can save a lot of money.
They said: “A species-appropriate diet is the single easiest and most affordable means of discouraging obesity, diabetes, and feline lower urinary tract disease.
“Prevent accidents by keeping your cat indoors or go for supervised outdoor adventures with a harness and leash.”
How Much Does Buying a Cat Cost?
Costs are immediately incurred once a responsible owner brings an animal into their home.
All About Cats said: “While adopting a cat you find is free of cost, you may have to cover the cost of spaying/ neutering, kitten milk replacer and flea treatment.
“Adoption from a shelter ranges from $25 to $200. Buying from a breeder could be anywhere from $500 to $1,000 on average.
“Some breeds have high maintenance costs due to breed-specific health conditions. For example, while a sick British Shorthair could cost up to $1,500, the Peterbald could cost up to $5,000 and the Savannah cat could cost up to $50,000.”
How Much Does Cat Food Cost?
Experts at Embrace Pet Insurance suggests the cost of keeping your bundle of fur’s belly full can vary widely, depending on several factors.
The told Newsweek: “The average cost of cat food can range between $10 to $40 per month. Some factors that can cause the food to be cheaper or more expensive include brand, type, special needs, or additional treats.
“Depending on the type of treats, these extra goodies can cost an additional $10-$50 per year. Some factors that can affect the average cost include brand, type, and quality of the kibble.
“If we are looking at the monthly cost of a four-pound bag of food then basic, dry kibble is most affordable – ranging from $5-$15/month.
“Premium, high-quality kibble increases to approximately $10-$20 per month. Canned, or wet, cat food is typically the most expensive ranging between $20-$40 per month.
“Other factors such as prescription diets, specific brands, or amount of food needed can cause these figures to fluctuate.”
How Much Can a Cat’s Medical Care Cost?
Medical care costs for cats can really start to add-up, according to All About Cats as it includes everything from routine check-ups to vaccinations and treating illnesses.
$40 and $55 per visit and up to $110 per year
They said: “It’s generally recommended that cats visit the vet’s office once a year until they reach their senior years.
“Once your cat is somewhere between 9 and 11, most vets recommend that you take them in for a checkup every six months.”
$0 to $500 per year
The pet experts said: “If you want to keep your cat’s dental care bills low, invest in a cat toothbrush and toothpaste costing around $15.”
$0 to $50 per year
All About Cats said: “In addition to first-year vaccinations, booster shots can cost between $50 and $150 every three to seven years.”
Emergency Medical Expenses
$0 to $10,000+
Common conditions – $1,239 for urethral blockage, $1,984 for seizures, $2,964 for an ingested hairpin, $3,717 if hit by a vehicle, $5,453 for acute liver failure and $8,294 for pneumonia.
Chronic illness – $5,351 for chemotherapy, $5,805 for glaucoma, $7,815 for hip dysplasia and $10,496 for diabetes.
How Much Do Cats’ Toys Cost?
Herring believes cat owners should always factor cat toys into their budget, “as they’re very important for keeping our furry friends stimulated.”
Doron Wolffberg, Founder at All About Cats agrees, noting how toys can range in cost depending on what your cat is most interested in.
She told Newsweek: “If you don’t have enough money to lavish your cat with fine foods and gifts, please don’t think that you’re a bad cat guardian.
“Almost everyone can afford a cat and can afford to raise them well.”
Embrace Pet Insurance suggests the cost can range from $5 per toy to $40 depending on the size and quality.
They said: “As for more enriching toys, such as scratching trees or cat condos, these range from anywhere between $30 to $200 for higher quality products.”
Cat Litter Costs
All About Cats’ experts have calculated one cat will typically use about 20 lbs. of clay litter each month.
They said: “Silica gel-based litter will cost between $10 and $25 per month, while clay litter costs between $2.50 and $6 each month.
“Biodegradable products are typically more expensive than clay. Litter box liners cost up to $18 per year, deodorizing spray or granules cost $20 per year, a vacuum for the litter box area costs $35 per year, a dedicated trash can costs $30 per year and a litter mat costs $25 per year.”
Richard Bradley, Founder of odour-eaters Pongone suggests significant costs can be incurred if litter is not properly used.
he told Newsweek: “If a cat sprays in your house or messes on the carpet. There is a cost in cleaning the affected area. Worse, you may have to throw away the item that has been soiled, as the smell will not go away.
“Also, cat litter once it starts to smell must be thrown away (sometimes this can be every couple of days or once a week), but by spraying the cat litter with an odor eliminator, this can increase the life of the cat litter. Thus, making your money go further.
“Using ineffective and cheap air fresheners will not rid your house of ‘Cat’ smells [and …] can also have a cost to your health, as they contain some nasty chemicals, that can affect people with breathing difficulties or who suffer from allergies.”
How Much Does Flea Treatment Cost?
Chris Socratous, Brand Manager at pet healthcare experts Bob Martin, believes while “nuisance” fleas many be uncomfortable for you and your cat, owners may not have considered “the hidden costs of a flea infestation.”
He told Newsweek: “The first purchase you will need to make when your cat has fleas is a fast-acting treatment to get rid of them.
“There are plenty of cost-effective options out there, but you need to make sure you’re buying a product that contains an insect-growth regulator such as s-methoprene, which will kill the eggs and larvae as well as the fleas themselves , breaking the flea lifecycle.”
And in addition to getting rid of a flea infestation, remember you will have to care for your cat afterwards.
Socratous added: “Their skin may be irritated as a result of excessive itching or flea allergy dermatitis, and they can even catch diseases carried by fleas and ticks, such as anemia and Lyme disease.
“It’s worth factoring a preventative collar or spray into your cat budget, because decreasing the likelihood of your cat catching fleas in the first place could save you money on even more treatments in the long run.”
All About Cats estimates treatments for fleas, as well as ticks, worms, and mites, to cost up to $60 per annum.
How Much Is Cat Pet Insurance?
Pet insurance rates depend on how old your cat was when you took out a policy, where you live, your cat’s breed, and a variety of other factors.
All About Cats said: “In general, it costs about $10 to $20 a month to insure your cat for accidents and illnesses. Comprehensive wellness plans that include preventive care may cost $30 or more.”
Embrace Pet Insurance has revealed the top five most common cat claims according to the average cost to treat them:
- Vomiting: $600
- Diarrhea: $301
- Urinary Tract Infection: $415
- External Otitis: $194
- Weight Loss: $544
Embrace Pet Insurance has also supplied the five most expensive cat breeds in order of average claim cost:
- Maine Coon: average cost per claim is $404
- Tabby (mixed breed): average cost per claim is $394
- Domestic Mediumhair (mixed breed): average cost per claim is $388
- Mixed Breed Cat: average cost per claim is $376
- Persian: average cost per claim is $370
What Is the Total Cost For Cat Care Supplies?
Total one-time costs for cat care supplies: $115 – $410
- ID Tag and Collar (optional) – $15
- Spay/Neuter (optional) – $145
- Cat X-Ray Cost – $100 – $250
- Cat Ultrasound Cost – $250 – $500
- Microchip – $45-$55
- Teeth Cleaning – $150-$300
- Bed (optional) – $30
- Cat Tree (optional) – $75
- Cat Nail Clipper (optional) – $7
- Cat Brush (optional) – $8
- Litter Box – $25
- Litter Scoop – $10
- Scratching Post – $30
- Carrier – $40
- Food and Water Bowls – $10