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Before bringing a cat friend into your home, it’s essential to consider the financial responsibilities that come with cat ownership. From initial expenses to ongoing costs, understanding the average cost of owning a cat will help you make an informed decision and ensure your furry friend receives the care they deserve. Use the free worksheet in this article to calculate and budget for the costs of owning a cat. 

In This Article

The Benefits of Owning a Cat

Cats provide companionship and emotional support, helping to alleviate feelings of loneliness and boosting overall well-being. Interacting with cats can reduce stress levels and promote relaxation, thanks to their soothing purrs and calming presence. Moreover, owning a cat has been associated with improved mental health, as their playful antics and affectionate nature bring joy and laughter. 

Their independent nature and low-maintenance care make them ideal pets for busy individuals or those with limited space. 

According to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, 45.3 million American households own a cat.

The Average Lifetime Cost of Owning a Cat

According to Daily Paws, the average lifetime cost of owning a cat is $17,800. On average, they estimate that pet parents will spend $3,200 in the first year and $1,800 every year thereafter. 

The lifetime cost of a cat is, surprisingly, more than the average cost of owning a dog which we explored in our companion piece: Worksheet: Estimate The Cost of Owning a Dog. This is in part due to the fact that cats can have longer lifespans than most dogs. Cats live 13 to 14 years on average, but some live up to 20 years.

Worksheet: Estimate the Lifetime Cost of Owning a Cat

Download the Free Worksheet

Fill in your pet’s data to estimate how much you currently spend on your dog. Based on their current age and life expectancy, we will calculate how much you will spend on your pet during its lifetime.

Have a dog? Check out our dog budgeting worksheet.

The Average Cost of Owning a Cat Per Month

The average cost varies but ranges from $26 to $278. The range is so wide because of variable expenses like pet rent, medications, and food for special diets. It can also vary depending on your or your cat’s preferences. Cheaper options are always available, but you or your cat may decide they prefer something specific that costs a little bit more.

Monthly ExpensesAmount/Frequency
Food and Treats$10 to $50 per month
Pet Rent$10 to $50 per month
Pet Insurance$6 to $38 per month
Medications and Vitamins$10 to $100 per month
Litter$10 to $40 per month
Annual ExpensesAmount/Frequency
Preventative Healthcare$220 – $700+ per year
Licensing$10 to $20 per year
Boarding$20 to $50 per day
Professional Grooming$30 to $90+ per groom
Collar/Harness$5 to $30
Toys$5 to $75+ per year
One-time/Infrequent ExpensesAmount/Frequency
Adoption FeesUp to $250 (one-time fee)
Spay and Neuter Costs$270 to $540
Litter Box$15 to $300
Nail trimmers$5 to $30
ID Tags$5 to $10
Carrier$20 to $145
Emergency Healthcare$650 to $8,000+ per surgery
$500 to $2,000+ for imaging
$2,000 to $7,000 for radiation
End of Life Care$50 to $100 for Euthanasia
$50 to $150 for Cremation
Up to $1,000 Pet Cemetery Burial
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Upfront Costs of Getting a Cat

Adoption or Purchase Fees

The initial cost of acquiring a cat can vary depending on whether you choose to adopt from a shelter or purchase from a breeder. Adoption fees generally range from $50 to $200 and may cover some or all essential veterinary care, vaccinations, and spaying/neutering. If you decide to buy from a breeder, costs can range from $500 to $1,500 or even higher, depending on the breed.

If acquiring a kitten, kitten shots will average around $150 a visit. Most kittens need at least 3 visits to be considered completely vaccinated.”

-Dwight Alleyne, DVM,  Veterinary Medical Director, Graduate of Cornell University and Veterinary Advisor at Betterpet

Supplies and Equipment

To ensure a comfortable and safe environment for your cat, you’ll need to invest in certain supplies. These include litter boxes, litter, scratching posts, food and water bowls, toys, grooming tools, and a carrier for vet visits or travel. The average cost of these initial supplies can range from $100 to $300.

Monthly and Annual Costs 

Food and Treats

Feeding your cat a balanced diet is vital for their overall health and well-being. The cost of cat food varies depending on the quality, brand, and whether you choose wet or dry food. On average, you can expect to spend between $200 and $400 annually on cat food. Treats, while not a necessity, can be an additional expense, typically ranging from $50 to $100 per year.

Litter and Supplies

Litter is another recurring expense for cat owners. Costs depend on the type of litter you choose (clumping, non-clumping, crystal, etc.) and the number of cats in your household. A 20-pound bag of litter can range from $10 to $20 and usually lasts around a month for one cat. Additional expenses may include litter box liners, scoops, and deodorizers, which can amount to approximately $50 per year.

Pet Insurance

Considered an optional but valuable investment, pet insurance can help mitigate the financial burden of unexpected veterinary expenses. Monthly premiums typically range from $20 to $50, depending on the coverage, breed, age, and location of your cat. It’s important to research different insurance providers and policies to find the best fit for your needs.

Caring for an Aging Cat

When it comes to managing the costs of caring for an aging cat, be sure to consider how their veterinary needs will change and preventive care to keep them as healthy as possible. You can proactively budget for these expenses by setting aside a designated amount each month. Additionally, pet insurance can help because it can help cover significant expenses related to unexpected illnesses or surgeries, providing you with peace of mind and financial protection.

As your cat gets older, vet expenses will make up a bigger chunk of your monthly costs. In addition to accidents, aging cats will grow more prone to illnesses such as digestive issues, joint inflammation, and disease.” 

– Daniel Caughill, co-founder of The Dog Tale, a petcare site for dog and cat owners 

The Most Expensive Medical Procedures for Cats

  1. Orthopedic procedures: $2,000 to $5,000
  2. Exploratory laparotomy: $1,500 to $4,500
  3. Cystotomy: $1,000 to $3,000
  4. Mass removals: $500 to $2,500


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