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Cat Adoption Budget - Costs of Adopting a Cat

Our little feline friends are great consumers. Cats can live a long time, and it is not uncommon for them to reach their teens. Some cats even live into their twenties! It's important to set up a cat adoption budget before you decide to adopt. While there are, of course, one-time , there are also ongoing expenses that adopters should be prepared for.

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Here is a sample budget. Prices have been left out because they vary depending on where you live; visit the local humane society, pet store, or vet to get costs for your areas. There really is no 'average' cost. Owning a cat requires both long-term emotional and financial commitments!

One Time Costs

  • Adoption fee. Please adopt from a shelter! There are many loving, wonderful cats and kittens just waiting for a home.

  • Initial shots / vaccinations. If you have a kitten, it will require at least a couple of sets of shots until its immune system is fully developed. Adults who were never vaccinated also need an initial set of vaccines.

  • Collar, leash, and harness. It's a good idea to have both a collar and a harness for when you plan on letting your cat outside. Cats are very adept at escaping from collars alone.

  • Litter box and scoop. There are many types of litter boxes these days, some pricier than others.

  • Food and water bowls.

  • Scratching post or tree, or simple cat scratcher. Give your cat an alternative to shredding your furniture and carpets! Scratching is natural behavior for cats. Scratching lets them shed the dead outer layers of their claws, plus it gives them a good stretch. A scratching post or tree should ideally be tall enough that the cat can stretch out fully.

    Cat trees are even better since they give kitties a place to exercise, play, and lounge around. Cats need to scratch so don't neglect to give them some way to fulfill this need.

  • Kennel. Good for car rides (many cats do not enjoy cars!), vacations, moving day, etc.

  • Brush/comb, and nail clippers.

  • Spay/neuter surgery. Many shelters will include the cost of the surgery with the adoption fee. There are simply not enough homes for all of our homeless pets. Keep the pet population down by spaying or neutering your pet.

  • Permanent identification. Have your cat tattooed or microchipped just in case he or she gets lost. Tattooing can be done at the same time as the spay/neuter surgery, and microchipping is a quick and painless process done by injection.

  • Cat bed. This isn't a necessary expense at all; most cats are perfectly content to curl up on your bed. If you want to encourage kitty to sleep in her own bed, or if you just think she would like her own "private" spot, then there are many types of cat beds available.

    Of course, many cat owners have discovered that their cats prefer a cardboard box to an expensive cat bed (there's just something about cardboard boxes!). Try lining a box with soft bedding.

Recurring Costs

  • Food. Are you going to be feeding your cat kibble or canned food, a homemade cooked diet, or raw food - or a combination of these? Quality canned food is a great source of water - cats don't drink a lot, so extra water is great.

  • Treats. Treats aren't a necessity, but they give both cats and their owners pleasure.

  • Kitty litter. Look for high-quality kitty litter; lower-quality litter tends to product a lot of dust, which kitty can breathe in when she's doing her business. Clay litter is the least expensive but also produces a ton of dust. These days, there are also many alternatives that are healthier for your cat, including the eco-friendly Swheat Scoop Cat Litter (made from wheat), and World's Best Cat Litter. Some people even use wood pellets as a cheap alternative kitty litter.

  • Annual vet visit. An annual health exam and bloodwork should be part of every pet's health care. Even if your cat doesn't appear to be ill, having him carefully examined every year can help highlight areas where issues may be able to be prevented, or it can diagnose health issues early.

    Annual vaccinations are controversial. Some pet owners still choose to have them done, while others may choose a 3-year vaccine schedule or some other alternative.

  • Furball medication. Cats groom themselves constantly. Inevitably they swallow some of their fur, which can result in a buildup in their stomachs ... leading to the dreaded furball. If furballs become a regular issue for your cat, there are foods, medication, or supplements that may help to alleviate them.

  • Grooming. Cats need to be brushed regularly to prevent mats, and will need their claws trimmed periodically. Ask your vet to show you how to do this yourself, or you can take your cat to the groomers to get it done.

  • Toys. Keep your cat indoors and provide it with toys to keep it entertained and happy. Interactive toys are great ... and many cats will even play 'fetch' with a small, light ball! A cat tree is also a great source of entertainment and relaxation for cats.

  • Boarding. Most people prefer not to take their cats on vacations. Check with local kennels and pet-sitters to determine the costs of caring for kitty while you're away.

  • Licensing costs. Licensing cats isn't as common as licensing dogs, but more and more municipalities are starting to make it mandatory.

Other Costs

  • Unforeseen medical costs, including dental care. Like people, your cat may sometimes get sick or require dental care. If you are worried about additional medical costs, you may want to look into purchasing pet insurance for peace of mind.

  • Re-upholstering! It's not always possible to stop your cat from shredding the furniture, especially in the beginning when your cat first joins the family. If your mischievous little feline is the type to sneak in a few scratches, you might want to budget in the cost of re-upholstering some furniture.

Of course, every cat is different and you may want to add your own points to this cat adoption budget list. The costs of adopting a cat vary from place to place, but a budget can help you plan for the future.