How Much Does It Cost To Own A Cat?

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If you’re thinking about adopting a cat, you might be wondering how expensive it really is to be a cat parent.

Pet care definitely isn’t cheap, so you should be prepared to budget for all the expenses that come with owning a cat.

The Dodo spoke to some experts to find out how much it costs to adopt a cat and how much you can expect to pay over his lifetime so you can figure out if you’re truly ready to adopt.

How much does adopting a cat cost?

Adoption costs can vary depending on a number of factors, including age, breed and where you adopt from. The typical adoption cost is up to around $200.

While this might seem high, adopting can actually save you money because the adoption fee typically covers initial vet fees and vaccinations. Here’s what’s usually covered in an adoption fee:

How much does it cost to own a cat?

Here are the costs you can expect if you have a cat — from one-time expenses when you first get him to yearly costs.

One-time cat expenses

There are some costs you’ll only have to worry about once, like the cost of adopting your cat.

Here are some one-time costs:

  • Adoption cost (approximately up to $200)
  • Spaying and neutering (see below)
  • Microchipping (see below)
  • Vaccinations (see below)
  • Litter box ($15–$80)
  • Cat tree ($15–$500)
  • Scratching post ($10–$100)
  • Collar ($6–$30)
  • ID tag ($7–$20)
  • Food and water bowls ($5–$50)
  • Cat bed ($10–$200)
  • Carrier ($30–$100)
  • Brush ($5–$30)

Because these are all items you need to buy when you first adopt your cat, the first year of owning a cat is usually the most expensive for cat parents.

And keep in mind that while these are “one-time” costs, you may need to get some of these items more than once — for example, your cat might need a new litter box or cat bed every year or so.

Monthly expenses

There are some recurring costs that will pop up monthly (or sometimes even more frequently), including:

  • Flea and tick treatment ($60–$100)
  • Deworming ($40–$125)
  • Food ($200)
  • Treats ($10–$50)
  • Litter ($10–$20)
  • Toothbrush ($3–$15)
  • Toothpaste ($4–$10)

If you choose to get pet insurance, this will be a monthly cost, too. Most insurance companies have a monthly premium to keep your plan active.

(If you're looking for pet insurance, you’ll want to check out Fetch by The Dodo since it's made by and for adoring pet parents, and because it's the most comprehensive coverage in the US and Canada, covering things that other providers don't or charge extra for.)

Yearly expenses

Here are some expenses you can expect on a yearly basis:

  • Routine vet checkups (see below)
  • Professional teeth cleaning (see below)
  • Yearly vaccinations (see below)
  • Toys ($1–$100)
  • Pet sitters or boarding ($20–$30 per visit for a pet sitter)
  • Pet deposit if you rent (depends on the contract)

How much do cat vaccinations cost?

The cost of cat vaccinations depends on the type of vaccine and whether it’s your cat’s first dose or a booster.

The cost for core vaccinations ranges from $40 to $80 in total for the first year and then $20 to $50 for each booster shot.

The core vaccinations your cat needs include:

  • Rabies
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Feline herpes virus
  • Panleukopenia

The feline calicivirus, feline herpes virus and panleukopenia vaccinations come in a combination shot called the distemper vaccine, which is often included in adoption fees.

How much does cat teeth cleaning cost?

The cost of getting your cat’s teeth cleaned can vary depending on a number of factors.

“The cost for dental cleanings can vary considerably, depending on the extent of the dental disease, whether extractions are required, geographic location and your pet’s age, weight and any underlying conditions (as this may impact the anesthesia required),” Dr. Jamie Richardson, medical chief of staff at Small Door Veterinary, told The Dodo.

The average cost can usually range from $200 to around $1,500, and you can get an estimate from your vet to find out how much it would cost for your cat.

Your vet can also let you know how often your cat will need his teeth professionally cleaned since it’ll be different for every cat, though it’s typically recommended yearly.

If you have pet insurance, you should contact your insurance company to see if they cover dental procedures and, if so, which ones, as many plans only cover certain teeth. Fetch by The Dodo is one of the few insurance companies that offer dental coverage for your pet’s whole mouth, so it’s a good option if you’re worried about paying for unexpected dental costs.

How much does it cost to microchip a cat?

According to Dr. Aliya McCullough, a veterinarian for Fetch by The Dodo, “The average cost of a microchip is about $50, and it can be added to a routine veterinary visit, which generally costs about $45–$70.”

This is an average cost, however. The exact amount you’ll pay will depend on your vet’s pricing.

How much does it cost to spay or neuter a cat?

Spaying and neutering usually costs around $200 to $500. And like microchipping and core vaccinations, these procedures are often covered by adoption fees.

Unexpected costs

Even the healthiest cat can come down with an unexpected illness or eat something he shouldn’t.

That’s why it’s a good idea to get pet insurance, which will usually cover the bulk of expenses that come from accidents or sudden illnesses.

“Pet insurance provides peace of mind,” Dr. Jennifer Coates, part of the advisory board for Pet News Daily, told The Dodo. “Knowing that you're prepared in case of an emergency is priceless.”

Keep in mind that pet insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, which includes any illness that occurred before the insurance kicked in — so don’t wait until your cat is already sick or injured to get insurance.

How much does pet insurance cost?

According to Dr. McCullough, the average cost of pet insurance for a dog is about $50 per month ($600 per year), and the average cost of pet insurance for a cat is about $28 per month ($336 per year).

(Fetch by The Dodo pet insurance only costs about $35 for dogs and $25 for cats on average, which makes it an affordable option.)

“Pet insurance premiums are based on the pet’s species (cat vs. dog), breed, age and location,” McCollough said. “The amount of coverage a pet parent chooses is also a factor in the cost of the pet insurance premium.”

Here are some things to think about when selecting a pet insurance plan, as they can affect your insurance cost:

  • The type of pet you have (dog vs. cat, for example)
  • Your pet’s breed
  • Your pet’s size
  • Where you live
  • Your pet’s age
  • The type of insurance plan and provider you select

So if you’re interested in adopting a cat, make sure you’re aware of the costs first so you can give your cat all the care (and toys!) he needs.