Got Your Wallet Handy? Here's What It Really Costs to Own a Cat

From scratching posts to litter boxes, what your kitty requires (and how much it'll cost you)

All cats need are something to eat, a place to potty and something to play with, right? Not so much. As with any pet, owning a cat costs money -- and we’re not just talking about loading up on feathered toys and catnip. Here’s what you can expect to spend (and where experts suggest you can cut costs).

Adoption Costs

Total: $40-$700 and up
Want to adopt? Hit the local animal shelter or check out rescue groups and see which cat steals your heart. Count on paying anywhere from $40 for an exam and vaccinations to $150 if your kitty needs to be spayed or neutered.

Have your heart set on a purebreed? These fancy felines can run several hundred dollars or more. And that only includes the cat. Prices vary throughout the country, but on average, a trip to the vet for vaccinations and an exam runs about $130. Tack on an extra $145 for spaying or neutering.

Setting Up Your Cat's Home

Total: $120
We’re not talking bells and whistles here -- these are things every cat should have:

  • Cat carrier. Don't even think of taking your cat to the vet without one.
  • Food. Dry, canned or mix it up.
  • Food dishes. Stainless steel, plastic or ceramic, they just need to be clean and full.
  • Litter box. They all serve the same purpose but covered boxes help contain litter and odors.
  • Litter. Start with a brand and type you like; ultimately, your cat will let you know which it prefers.
  • Scratching post (of course).
  • Toys. No need to go fancy -- your cat will enjoy anything that moves.


Annual Expenses

Total: $890
The big expenses are usually out of the way once kitty’s home is established. Now you’re budgeting for maintenance and care.

  • Food: $115
  • Toys: $25
  • Litter: $165
  • Veterinary care after the first year: $160, more if your cat gets sick or injured Grooming supplies: $25 -- a must for long-haired cats
  • Pet insurance: $300-$400 per year (optional)

Karen B. Gibbs is a writer and editor based in Lacombe, La.

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