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The Costs Of Cat Ownership

April 26, 2013
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Adopting a pet can be a thrilling and rewarding experience.

Photo courtesy chenmeister64

That said, it’s often because pet owners are willing to devote to their cat the necessary time, energy, and money – all very real responsibilities that need to be carefully considered before bringing home a new furry companion.

The truth is, if someone doesn’t have the time, energy, or money, a cat may not be the best pet option. This is true for both the human and the cat involved.

Consequently, it’s essential to make sure that one’s lifestyle – and just as importantly finances – can accommodate a cat. It can save a great deal of heartache and financial stress to make sure everything is sorted out prior to adoption.

So how much do cat owners spend? Some pet parents may spend hundreds, others may spend thousands each year on their cat. This can really vary depending on the quality of items purchased (think litter, food), as well as any medical expenses and health issues that may come up.

To get an idea of how much a cat may cost, please take a look at the chart below:

Cat Costs

I compiled this chart after looking at various sources online, as well as looking up costs at major pet supply retailers. It’s intended to give you an idea of what costs are associated with cat ownership, as well as greatly much those costs may range. Some of your costs may be lower in certain areas, others may be higher – but you get the idea.

Let’s take a look at some of the costs associated with cat ownership:

The first cost that renters should look into is whether or not their landlord allows cats – and if he does, if a deposit is required. If a landlord doesn’t allow cats, my recommendation is this: Wait.

Renters who side-step their landlord’s policy can find themselves in hot water. They may have to surrender their cat or pay a fine. Some may even face eviction. Consequently, if you live in a no-cat renting situation, it’s best to simply wait until the lease is over and then move into a cat-friendly location.

Photo courtesy pixelconscious

Adoption fees are another first expense for pet parents. Some folks may be able to adopt their cat for free, others may decide to pay hundreds at a breed-specific location.

If you’re interested in adopting a cat, one of your best options may be your local shelter. You can be sure that the cats there really need a home, not to mention any health issues have been properly addressed, too.

That said, some folks may not like the idea of an adoption fee, but it really does serve many purposes. Mainly, it helps offset the costs of keeping and caring for the cat. These costs may include your cat’s spay/neuter, vaccinations, exams, and medical care.

Adoption fees are also a way to screen potential adopters. While you may scrunch your nose at that, there’s logic behind it. If someone can’t afford a $100 adoption fee, odds are they may not be able to afford other necessary expenses and emergencies along the way. It’s all done in the best interest of the cat and potential adopter.

That said, sometimes shelters do have “specials” throughout the year. For example, they may have a month when their senior cats’ adoption fees are waived. There may be another month when kittens’ fees are lowered. Keep your eyes open and you may find a deal!

But no matter what the adoption fee is, odds are you’re still getting quite the bargain. You may even want to consider donating to your local shelter as a way to say thanks, too!

Photo courtesy Hendrixson

Even if your initial adoption fee is low, costs can quickly add up afterward as you purchase everything your new cat needs. Here’s a list of cat essentials – it includes things like food and water bowls, litter box, scoop, carrier, scratching poll and more. But as we all know, the list doesn’t end there. You may find yourself purchasing a few other things that can make your life easier and your cat’s more enjoyable, which can add up too.

Plus, if you have a CH cat, you may end up spending more in this department. When we adopted Ellie, we went through four different litter boxes for her, trying to find one that suited her needs the best. You may have to go through something similar.

Another expense that can add up over time is food. Now, for folks on a budget, it can be easy to opt for the cheap stuff you can buy nearly anywhere. I implore you to reconsider that. As someone who was in that situation, I can tell you that buying cheap food now only adds up to serious costs later on. Had I simply spent a few more dollars on each bag of food, I could have saved myself thousands and not risked CG’s health.

To find out what food is best for your cat, speak to your shelter and veterinarian. They’ll be able to tell you about what food your cat is currently on, and if it, or another food would best serve his dietary needs. The type of food your cat eats may change over time too, depending on his age and health requirements.

Similarly, the cost of litter can add up. Some cats can do fine with the clay litter, others do well with clumping litter. Some cats may do best with other types, which can get a little pricey. No matter what litter option you choose, keeping your cat’s litter box clean will help prevent many behavioral and health issues.

Speaking of, health issues may be another large expense, especially for special needs cats. Some CH cats may go their entire lives without one CH-related health expense. For others, it may be a common occurrence. Being prepared financially can be one of the best ways to tackle these expenses.

Photo courtesy DanieVDM

And these expenses can add up – especially if you need to take your cat to an after-hours emergency clinic, which can end with a large bill.

So how should cat owners prepare for emergencies?

Some invest in cat insurance. If you think this may be a good idea for you, I’d suggest you take a look. That said, most companies will not insure a CH cat. I’ve heard that there may be a few that do, but you’ll want to carefully check the policy to find out exactly what is insured. Often anything related to a cat’s pre-existing condition (like CH), is not included. This may or may not be worth it for you, since some of your cat’s emergencies may be caused by CH (like a chipped tooth, pulling out a nail, etc.).

CH cat owners have come up with several ways to financially prepare for emergencies. Probably one of the best options is to open a savings account especially for your cat. Saving a chunk of money each month (even if it’s only $30), can really help in the long-run.

If all of these expenses sound like too much, you may want to give cat ownership another thought. While there are thousands of cats in the country who need a home, it wouldn’t do any good to adopt them out to homes that can’t afford to take care of their needs, and that may withhold veterinary care for the sake of tight finances. It wouldn’t be fair to the cat or to the family.

But, if you can afford to adopt a cat, even though it can be a significant financial responsibility, most cat owners will tell you they’re definitely worth it. It’s rewarding beyond all belief.

Do you have any cat ownership financial advice? Perhaps ways to save for emergencies, or wise ways to save money? Please share in the comments!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2013 8:33 am

    Our CH cat’s vet expenses were not from his CH but that he got his head stuck in the gate of the cat fence. He was quite the explorer. My Dutch husband thought cats should go outside and this was the compromise. Poppie got hypothermia as we were out when this happened. He also has some nerve damage in his neck. And we rescued him from the streets of Kabul! He thought he was safe in Washington. I said that this visit to the vet was like a night at the Four Seasons Hotel with spa services and dinner. Yo! He and the other cat are eating either Rx food or Wellness after three years of Friskies overseas. I hope this pays off. A friend just remarked this is like having children. I have stopped with the other toys and equipment as they don’t use any of it. I’m returning the laser toy. I think they are happy with empty paper bags. I’ve given away a lot of things I impulsively bought from Drs. Foster and Smith website.

    • April 26, 2013 9:27 am

      I know what you mean! I often wonder if most of the cat toys that stores sell are simply marketed to us! I’ve found that our cats love “free” toys the most – bags, rings from milk bottles, etc.

  2. April 26, 2013 10:22 am

    Very true! It’s easy to get seduced by a cute kitten, but this is a lifetime commitment, and that kitty deserves the best care! If it doesn’t look like you can afford cat ownership, you can look into fostering programs.

    Fostering programs vary, but I foster wit the ASPCA, and they handle 100% of the costs of caring for their cats. They even reimburse me for the cab rides to bring kitty to and from their shelter! You’ll be helping kitties get ready for their forever homes, maybe even saving their lives, and the only thing required will be your time, energy, and love!

    • April 26, 2013 10:23 am

      What great advice! Thanks, Emily!

  3. Lesley permalink
    April 27, 2013 10:57 am

    To help with vets fees I pay my vet a small amount every week – mostly I am in credit so he is happy and I am happy too. This arrangement works well as if I have lots in the ‘fund’ I can go and get a free bag of Hills cat food!

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