Let's Talk Finances: What Is The Cost Of Owning A Cat?

Earlier this year mom saw an article about the costs of pet ownership for cats and dogs written by Money Geek. Mom said it was a very good article as it clearly pointed out all the considerations and issues related to adding a furry friend to your family. 

Often after being presented with the facts, one might decide that now is not the time to be adding a pet to your home. And we say that’s a good thing as the saddest thing in adoption work is owner-surrendered pets because they say they weren’t really aware of all the responsibilities involved.

What mom took issue with in this article was the actual financial costs involved to care for a cat monthly and annually. Particularly, the amount of money that was spent on the food.

Based on the article’s findings, they reported that $4.30 a week - $224 a year could sustain a cat! How is that possible? Even the worst cat food costs more than that a week. 

As mom and I studied the list, we decided to create our own list of annual costs that follow our “holistic and sustainable living for cats” philosophy.

Okay, let’s establish a few things first, as mom describes it, there are “start-up costs” to get going to be a cat parent and then there is the “nuts and bolts” of monthly and annual cat maintenance.

Different breeds and different locations can affect the costs involved of pet ownership. Since we have not conducted an actual study, we are simply sharing with you our annual costs.

Beau and I are both American Domestic Shorthair INDOOR cats. We highlight “indoor” because it makes a difference on many levels including financial costs.

Start-up costs for owning a cat – not included in annual maintenance:

  • Adoption Fees  – the pet will be already fully vetted, and have its first round of shots, etc and hopefully microchipped. The fee reimburses the shelter for those expenses.

  • If you save a cat in your yard, or adopt from a neighbors litter, etc you will need to see your vet and pay for the following vet services:  spay/neuter/vaccinate,/microchip, etc which can be a lot more than adoption fees at shelters ($300+).

  • Some of these are “one-time” expenditures, but for all you cat lovers out there, we know you will spoil us kitties. In a beloved house cat’s lifetime, they will have a few of each of these! Meow-za!  

    • Cat bed

    • Cat carrier

    • Cat condo

    • Cat scratching post

    • Litter boxes (always one extra box than number of cats, we have 3 boxes in the house)

  • Harness/leash – security for when traveling with your pet in a  car, etc or if you intend to train your cat to walk outside. 

This list does not include any deterrents (anti-chew or anti-claw sprays), pet sitter costs, flea meds, vaccination boosters or emergency care or dental care as those are very subjective according to each cat.

Because Beau and I are INDOOR only cats, we no longer receive flea meds or booster vaccinations for rabies, etc. This is mom’s personal decision after discussing it with our vets to not treat us with more chemicals and toxins. Because of this decision, mom figures she saves approximately $120 a year for flea meds per cat. Also since vaccination boosters are every few years, we save on those costs too. 

Before you consider doing the same thing, please do your research and check with your vet as to the rewards and the risks. 

Beau and I will never be trained to the leash and have that controlled outdoor experience because then we would need flea medications and booster shots. And mom feels it’s not worth it.

Monthly/Annual maintenance costs aka “nuts and bolts” to care for 1 cat:

  • Fresh Raw Food Diet: $50 a month/$600 a year

  • Supplements: Probiotic, Plaque-off, etc: $15 a month/$156 a year

  • Litter (OKOCAT Wood Chips): $10 a month/ $120 a year

  • Toys/Treats: $10 a month/ $120 a year

  • Pet Insurance: $30 a month/ $360 a year – learn more about choosing pet insurance here.

  • Misc: grooming items, dental gel, etc: $10 a month/ $120 a year

Total: $125 a month/ $1,500 a year

  • Annual Check-up Costs: $100 a year (check-up plus extras)

Remember, when you add a living being to your family in the way of a cat or dog, you are making a lifetime commitment to that pet. That is a big responsibility physically, mentally, logistically and financially for the next 15 – 20 years and maybe even longer!

But when you factor in what you get in return from your pet, unconditional love, faithful companionship, a buddy with whom to play with and interact with, it’s worth everything to have us in your life!!