Cat Costs: Preparing for Life with a Feline Friend

Before setting out to find your new pet, you'll need to consider how much a cat costs to buy and keep, and whether or not you can truly afford one, before he or she quite literally eats you out of house and home.

Cats are wonderful companions and will enrich your life in all sorts of unsuspected ways, so it's not just a one-way trade.

They do need 'forever homes' though, so before you go ahead, do make sure that you look at all the costs involved in keeping your cat in comfort for the rest of his or her life.

Black cat licking his lips over piles of moneyCat costs can mount up
Image © iStockphoto | tadija

The Costs Involved in Buying a Cat

How much does a cat cost? Ask yourself: Do I want a kitten ...

  • as a pet?
  • to breed from?
  • to show?

Or would I prefer to adopt an older cat?

Pedigree kittens from Siamese and other breeds can cost hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pounds or dollars, depending on whether you want a pet quality kitten (the least expensive) or a kitten for show purposes (the most expensive).

Kittens from the more unusual breeds (Bengals, for example) can cost a great deal of money.

If you're thinking of buying a kitten, contact at least three different breeders to get an idea of the range of costs in your area.

Adopting Older Cats

Adopting older cats from a rescue center generally costs much less than buying a kitten, and you have the added benefit of feeling good about giving a loving home to an otherwise unwanted animal.

Some rescues don't charge at all for re-homing adult cats, while others ask for a donation towards their always considerable veterinary and feed costs.

The Costs Involved in Keeping a Cat

One-Off Cat Costs – Things You’ll Need to Buy Once

  • Food bowl
  • Water bowl
  • Litter tray and litter scoop
  • Grooming set (brush, flea comb)
  • Bed
  • Scratching post
  • Carrying basket
  • Toys
  • Microchipping
  • Collar and I.D. tag

Ongoing Cat Costs – Recurring Items

  • Food
  • Litter
  • Veterinary bills
  • Annual vaccinations
  • Flea and worm treatments
  • Pet insurance

Useful Tips

  • Before getting your pet, copy all the items above into a spreadsheet or write them down on a piece of paper, find out what all the costs for them are in your local area, and then add them all up.
  • Visit your nearest pet store and price all the items on the one-off costs list.
  • Check online to see if you can buy food and litter and have them delivered. There are often useful savings to be made here.
  • Watch out for special offers on pet foods in your local supermarket.
  • Talk to neighbors and friends with pets and call one or two local veterinary clinics. Ask about the cost of annual vaccinations and health checks as well as flea and worm treatments.
  • Flea and worm treatments are often more expensive to buy from your veterinarian than in a pet store or online, so it's worth shopping around, but do talk to your veterinarian about which ones are effective and safe before actually purchasing them.
  • Annual pet insurance can seem like a costly expense, but it's minor compared to what you will pay in veterinary bills should your cat need surgery in case of illness or accident. If you can afford it, buy it.

More Cat Care Information

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