How Much Does It Cost To Adopt A Cat?

Hint: It's worth it 🥰🐈

cat on a dollar bill

Before you decide to adopt a cat, it’s important to figure out if you can afford to give him the best life possible.

Owning a cat can get expensive, and the cost of adopting your cat, which includes stocking up on supplies and health-related vet fees, can also be pricey — so you’ll want to be prepared.

The Dodo spoke with Mary Shaughnessy, a founding member of Kitt Crusaders in Los Angeles, to find out just how much it’ll cost to adopt a cat.

How much does adopting a cat cost?

It turns out that there’s no universal answer to this question. Sometimes adopting a cat’s free. Other times, it can cost hundreds of dollars — it really just depends on where you go and the type of cat you’re adopting.

“[Costs] can vary from state to state, even town to town,” Shaughnessy told The Dodo. “For example, veterinary expenses, food and litter, etc., may cost less in [a rural] area than they would in a large city.”

To give you an idea of what sort of price range you could be looking at, Shaughnessy broke down what adoption costs are like in one of the biggest cities in the U.S.

“Here in Los Angeles, I can tell you it would range somewhere between $50 to $200 for one cat or kitten,” Shaughnessy said. “Lots of groups will give you a discounted rate if you adopt a pair.”

Factors that affect adoption costs

Adoption costs can vary depending on a number of factors:

  • Age — Kittens are typically in high demand, so you can expect to pay more for a kitten than an older cat. And there are often discounts for senior cats so shelters and rescues can find good homes for them.
  • Breed — Some breeds are less common, so they’re more expensive because there’s a higher demand for them.
  • Location — If you’re adopting in an urban area, the cost may be higher than in more rural areas, just as the cost of other living expenses is likely higher.
  • Where you adopt from — Different adoption organizations may have slightly different rates depending on what’s included in the adoption fee.

What does the adoption cost include?

Adopting can actually save you money because the adoption fee typically covers initial vet costs and vaccinations, whereas these services aren’t usually included if you buy your cat from a breeder.

“What you need to look at is what services and vaccines come with the adoption,” Shaughnessy explained. “Spay[ing and] neuter[ing] should always be included.”

Here’s what’s usually covered in an adoption fee:

Some of these included services can vary depending on where you adopt from, but this is typically what you can expect.

“All of these things could increase the cost and are generally a much better deal if you get it done through a rescue or shelter,” Shaughnessy said.

Other costs to consider

Before you adopt, you should also think about what other expenses you’ll have once you get your cat. The ASPCA estimates that owning a cat can cost more than $800 per year — so it’s not exactly cheap.

“Work out what litter and food would cost on a monthly basis, and then think about things like annual checkups and/or booster vaccines, dental cleanings when necessary, [and] unexpected vet bills,” Shaughnessy said. “You might want to look into pet insurance as it could save money for unexpected veterinary costs.”

Here’s what you should take into consideration in addition to the cost of adopting your cat.

One-time expenses

You’ll have to buy a bunch of supplies to prepare for your cat’s arrival, like a cat bed and litter box. Plus, depending on what’s included in the adoption fee, you may have to pay for certain vaccinations, microchipping, or spaying or neutering.

Here are some one-time costs you should consider when you first adopt your cat:

  • Spaying and neutering ($200–$500)
  • Microchipping ($40–$50)
  • Vaccinations ($40–$80 for core vaccinations)
  • 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)

And 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

Some costs that pop up monthly, and sometimes more frequently, include:

  • 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 decide to get pet insurance, most plans have a monthly premium, too.

Yearly expenses

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

  • Routine vet checkups ($50–$100 per visit)
  • Professional teeth cleaning ($200 to around $1,500)
  • Yearly vaccinations ($20–$50 for boosters)
  • Toys ($1–$100)
  • Pet sitters or boarding ($20–$30 per visit for a pet sitter)
  • Pet deposit if you rent (depends on the contract)


Many people don’t consider the amount of time they’ll have to spend with their new cat. While this isn’t a typical expense, you should take into account the time investment you’ll have to make to get your cat comfortable in his new home and bond with him.

Deciding to adopt a cat is super exciting, but along with the adoption fee, there are a lot of costs to think about. So be sure you budget for it so you know you’re prepared.

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