When thinking about getting a cat, one of the first things that comes to mind is, how much does it cost to raise a cat cat? According to the ASPCA, it will cost $1,904 to have a cat in the first year, and an average of $1,149 for each year after.
But these are just averages, and the actual amount you might spend on a cat could be more or less.
The first money you’ll spend on your cat will likely be for its adoption fees. But for some cats, that cost is $0. You could spend thousands if you’re getting a cat from a breeder.
Other costs associated with your cat will be one-time items, like name tags, spaying/neutering, microchips, and more.
The long-term costs associated with owning a cat include food, vet bills, and pet insurance if you have it. You can see where the big range in price comes from, as any one of these items can be affordable or expensive. Cat food, for instance, has a broad cost range depending on brand and type.
As a longtime cat owner, I’ve researched (and experienced) cat associated costs year after year.
The following is a general guide on how much you can expect to spend on a cat during the course of its life. Our cost projections are a little higher than ASPCA’s, as their data is from 2021, and costs have gone up since then.
It’s not uncommon for people to come across free cats. Whether they happen to run into you when you’re going about your daily life, or you discover them abandoned somewhere, free cats need a loving home.
But free cats do come with some initial costs, especially because they probably haven’t received medical care in awhile. They may need to be spayed or neutered, which costs about $150 on average. However, there are often free spay/neuter events, especially in areas where the stray population is growing.
It’s important to take a free cat into the vet when you adopt them to make sure they are not microchipped. You should also post signs in the area it was found indicating that you have the cat, in case they belong to someone.
One of the most popular ways to get a cat is through adoption. There are many animal shelters that are overloaded with cats, so you could be saving a life by adopting through a shelter. Sometimes you can catch a free adoption event, where you will only have to pay a small administrative fee or nothing at all. The great thing about adopting a cat at a shelter is they are typically already spayed or neutered. The cost to adopt a cat typically ranges from $50 to $200.
Another benefit of adopting a cat is that these animals have already been examined by a vet and treated for any pertinent medical issues.
Purebred cats are no doubt cute, but they can have more pricey lifespans. First of all, they cost more to buy, ranging from $500 to $1,000, and even more if you’re getting a more expensive breed. They also often have breed-specific health problems, which can cost a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars per year.
When you purchase a cat from a breeder, the cost of neutering and spaying is typically on you.
Here’s the average cost and common health problems of the most popular purebred cats:
|Breed Name||Average Cost||Common Health Conditions|
|Bengal||$1,000-$25,000||Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), eye disorders|
|Persian||$500-$5,500||Polycystic kidney disease (PKD), progressive rod-cone degeneration (PRA), and HCM|
|Sphynx||$200-$3,000||Heart disease, respiratory issues, digestive problems|
|Scottish Fold||$200-$3,000||Osteochondrodysplasia PKD, HCM|
|British Shorthair||$500-$1,500||Hemophilia B, HCM|
|Abyssinian||$900-$1,500||Pyruvate kinase deficiency, progressive retinal atrophy, patellar luxation|
There are several one-time costs associated with welcoming a cat to your family. These are the things you’ll need to pay for before you take them home. But luckily, they don’t need to be purchased regularly. Some items on this list, like scratching post, litter box, and grooming tools may need to be upgraded every few years, but we’re going to consider them one-time costs for the sake of simplicity. Remember to add the cost of adoption/purchasing a cat to this total for your actual start-up costs (and don’t forget to subtract the cost of spaying/neutering if you’re adopting a cat, as this is usually covered by the rescue facility).
|Initial/One-Time Cost Estimates|
|Spay / Neuter||$150|
|Initial Medical Costs (Vaccines, etc)||$175|
|Collar / Leash / Harnesses||$15|
|Grooming Tools (Brushes, Clippers, Etc)||$20|
Every year you own a cat, you can expect to spend a certain amount on food and vet bills. These are non-negotiables, and are just the realities of owning a pet. You do have some control over how much you spend here, though. Cat food costs have a wide range, from the super high end to the budget friendly. We accounted for this range in our calculations, and while we maxed ours out at $600, you can certainly spend more if you wanted to (raw food or human grade food, we’re looking at you).
You also don’t have to get pet insurance, though it is strongly advised to have it. Securing pet insurance when you first bring your cat home will protect you from extreme costs associated with your cat’s health. And getting it before they go to the vet for their first exam is extremely important so you can avoid the ‘pre-existing condition’ exclusion.
Boarding and pet sitting is optional as well, but if you travel at all at any point in the year, it is something you’ll have to consider. Luckily, cats are much less maintenance than dogs, and friends are often willing to stop by to give your feline some food and love while you’re gone.
The miscellaneous expenses category is for all the extra, random costs associated with owning a cat. There might be times when you want to spend more on some cool toys, or you might need to take them in to get their teeth cleaned. While we tried to account for everything, there are always random moments when you’ll spend a little more on your pet, and those instances add up throughout the year.
|Annual Cost Estimates|
|Annual medical exams/vaccines||$200|
|Frequently replaced grooming supplies (soaps, etc.)||$30|
|Boarding or pet sitting||$20-$200|
Cats, like any pet, cost money. This is seen not only in the first year of ownership, but in every year thereafter. But because cats are smaller than dogs, you can usually expect to spend less on a cat than a dog, especially when it comes to food. If you get a mixed breed cat, you can avoid some expensive medical bills down the line. Rescuing a cat from a shelter is the cheapest way to get a cat, aside from finding one on the street. Typically, shelters pay for the spay/neuter and pre-treat any existing ailments.
You do have some control over how much you spend on your cat, especially when it comes to food, insurance, and boarding.
We may be biased, but we think spending a thousand dollars a year on a sweet, four-legged friend is a bargain! They provide so much love and joy to our lives, and truly become a member of the family.