Cats are popular pets because they don’t require as much attention as dogs. If you are busy, have a big family, or are an older adult, a cat could be an excellent companion because they can take care of themselves in many ways. Yet, they are always there for a snuggle and purr when you need them.
Still, bringing a cat into your home is an adjustment and an investment. Making sure they have everything they need to live comfortably in your home is essential, but you also want to ensure they have the proper vet care. How much does a cat cost when you first bring them home? How much can you expect to spend each month caring for them? We break it all down for you below.
Bringing Home a New Cat or Kitten: One-Time Costs
From the cost of the kitty to their vet care to the items they will need once they reach your home, the initial cost investment is often a bit higher than most realize. With a better understanding of what your new pet will need, you can provide them with a comfortable and joyful life in your care.
It’s not hard to find kittens for free in the local paper, on flyers posted around town, or online. You may even know someone with kittens they are giving away to good homes. Often, these kittens will be dropped off at the shelter if the cat owner cannot find homes for all of them.
Many older cats are also offered good homes because owners are moving to a new place where they can’t have animals, they can’t financially care for them anymore, or their owner has passed away.
While adopting a cat from a local shelter, the Humane Society, or animal rescue will most likely come with an adoption fee, there are many benefits to consider. This adoption fee usually covers a routine medical exam to rule out major health problems, vaccinations, and spaying or neutering. Some organizations may include additional services like microchipping as part of the fee.
If you are interested in a particular type of cat, rescues specializing in them are an excellent place to start. You are also helping a pet in need, one that might not otherwise find a good home.
Purchasing a kitten from a breeder is significantly more expensive, but if you are looking for a particular breed that is considered rare or boutique, it could be the easiest way to find one. Munchkin, Peterbald, Toyger, and Lykoi cats are just a few examples of cats you are more likely to see from a breeder than for free or adoption.
When deciding to work with a breeder, be sure to research their credentials, look at past customer reviews, and, if possible, visit their facilities.
Vet Visit and Vaccines
If initial veterinary costs aren’t covered with the adoption, or you get your cat for free, you’ll need to ensure they see the vet immediately.
Most kittens will need deworming since some can get worms from their mother through gestation and milk. Initial vaccinations and timely boosters protect them from the most common and deadly feline diseases.
If you are concerned about preventative care costs for your pet, you may want to consider a pet insurance wellness plan.
Initial Setup and Supplies
Welcoming a new kitten or cat into your family is exciting and fun. However, many new pet parents overlook some initial costs until they become necessary. If this is your first feline friend, set aside a portion of your budget to cover their care and the equipment they will need when you bring them home.
Some items, like nail clippers and brush, are optional, and you may never need them. While a cat tree and other climbing toys are also optional, they are highly recommended.
List of Cat or Kitten Care Supplies and Costs
|ID Tag and Collar||$15–$40|
|Flea and Tick Prevention||$20–80|
|Nail Clipper (optional)||$7|
|Toys and Treats||$30|
|Cat Tree (optional)||$50–$200|
|Food and Water Bowls||$10|
|Pet Deposit (if applicable)||$0–$500|
How Much Does a Cat or Kitten Cost Per Month?
$75–$520 per month
Costs will likely fluctuate each month as you care for your new cat or kitten. Considering the expenses below, examine your cat’s age, gender, medical history, and breed. Is the breed susceptible to any health conditions you should plan for? Be sure to prepare for the months when costs will be higher.
$40–$370 per month
Your cat or kitten’s monthly health care costs will change based on their needs. They may not need to visit the vet or groomer each month, your pet may not have recurring medication expenses, and you may choose not to invest in pet insurance. However, it’s essential to study your budget and determine which costs you are likely to expect and what you can put aside for the months that might be higher than usual.
$30–$90 per month
There are hundreds of food options available for cats and kittens. Look for a premium food formulated for your cat’s age and activity level. Budget food choices are also available that are still very nutritious and give your cat everything they need to stay healthy and active. Depending on your cat’s size and the brand of food, the monthly cost to feed them can range significantly from $30 to $90.
$0–$50 per month
Cats are naturally very clean pets. They are known to groom themselves and do an excellent job of it. However, long-haired cats may need a good brushing, especially during the shedding season in the Spring, to prevent matting. If your pet is older and unable to groom themselves effectively, you may need to take them to the groomers to keep them looking and feeling their best. Grooming may also be necessary based on their breed.
Medications and Vet Visits
$0–$150 per month
Your cat probably won’t need to visit the vet every month, or at least we hope so! However, it’s best to keep some room in your budget just in case they need to be seen for an unexpected illness or accident. Once per year, they’ll need a checkup and booster vaccinations. Any unused monthly vet budget could be set aside for an expected vet bill. Older cats may develop chronic illnesses or need medication for pain should they develop arthritis. Prescription diets and medicine may become a monthly vet expense.
$10–$30 per month
Pet insurance may help make more significant and unexpected vet bills more affordable. If your pet qualifies, an accident and illness plan covers many of these bills as long as the problem isn’t pre-existing. Wellness plans can also help make preventative and routine vet care more affordable. Vaccinations, grooming, flea and tick prevention, and more may be covered, depending on the plan. Pet insurance requires a monthly or annual premium, and most work on a deductible and reimbursement model, allowing you to customize your plan to your needs.
$0–$50 per month
If you had to pay a pet deposit to your landlord or property management company when you adopted your pet, you might also have a monthly pet rent added to your total rent due for the month. Not all rentals require additional pet deposits or rent. However, you’ll need to budget for this extra expense if yours does. If you own your home, this won’t apply.
$15–$100 per month
Although cats themselves are very clean pets, they do need some cleaning up after to avoid odors. Your initial costs included their litter box and a scoop. You’ll need to regularly clean and change their litter to keep a fresh-smelling home and your cat or kitten healthy and happy. Litter box liners can make changing litter easier, while deodorizing products can mask odors. Cats need to scratch regularly to keep their claws sharp and healthy. Giving them fresh scratchers ensures they won’t claw on your personal items.
|Litter box liners||$5/month|
|Deodorizing spray or granules||$10/month|
$20–$50 per month
Keeping a cat entertained is no small task! Kittens, especially, need to feel engaged with toys they enjoy. Toys vary widely in price, from simply catnip-filled mice for just a few dollars to electronic toys that are much more expensive but last longer and can encourage play even if you aren’t at home.
You could decide on a subscription box to make the cost of toys more predictable and take the struggle out of choosing them yourself. You’d get a box each month full of toys, treats, and other goodies for your new feline friend that you know they will love, and you didn’t have to lift a finger. Most subscription boxes average $25 per month.
Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Cat or Kitten
$75–$100+ per month
Every pet is unique, so it’s impossible to judge just how much your cat or kitten will cost you each month. Be sure to consider their age, gender, medical history, and breed as you plan for the costs of their care. Maintenance costs like food, litter, and entertainment can vary widely based on the products you choose to purchase, so you have some control over your pet’s budget.
Additional Costs to Factor In
Pet parents often have unique situations come up from time to time that inevitably increases costs for their pet. Should you go on vacation, you may need to hire a pet sitter, for example. Kittens might need obedience training, much like puppies, or older pets may need behavior modification therapy. Some cats can be destructive and cause damage to your home you need to repair.
However, one of the most expensive, unavoidable, and usually unexpected costs is emergency vet care for illnesses or injuries. These vet bills can quickly add up to $1,000 or more, depending on the severity of the condition. A solid pet insurance policy may help make unexpected expenses more affordable.
Owning a Cat or Kitten On a Budget
It is possible to enjoy a cat companion and do so on a limited budget. For example, you could choose a basic break-away collar over a fancy one, durable stainless steel food bowls over decorative ones, and a basic litter pan that gets the job done over a self-cleaning, robotic litter box. Using cheaper materials, you can also look for DIY projects for toys and scratchers.
You can save money on the monthly essentials by buying in bulk at your local warehouse retailer and keeping an eye out for sales on the items you need the most. If you need help with the initial costs, you might look for free or cheap used items in your neighborhood listed on social media.
Saving Money on Cat or Kitten Care
The most significant monthly expenses are food and litter. With careful shopping, you can find a quality cat food that provides everything your cat needs but is still within your budget. Litter doesn’t have to be expensive, either. If you clean it daily, you can avoid spending extra on deodorizing products.
Another way you can save money is on grooming. You can keep your cat looking great with a few quality brushes and avoid the extra expense.
When determining the cost of owning a cat, you should consider the initial cost of vet care and vaccinations and ensure you budget for a litter box, scratchers, toys, bowls, etc. These first purchases will likely add up, but once your cat has settled in, the monthly costs go down quite a bit as long as they don’t need veterinary care. You can choose the type of food, litter, and toys you purchase, and you are primarily in control of your new cat’s budget. However, it’s best to save up for unexpected costs.
Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock