A cat playing with dollar bills

How much does it cost to adopt a cat?

I’m really glad you asked. Why? Well, because far too many people rush to buy themselves a pet each year without carefully considering the pros and cons before they make their decision.

In an effort to prevent future disappointments (for both you and your new kitty!) we highly recommend you do some research before you decide to become a pet parent.

So how much does it cost to adopt a cat? Let’s find out.

The cost of adoption

Prices for cats and kittens can vary among breeds and breeders. Some people try to charge top dollar for certain pure and rare specimens, whereas others may have had an accident and would be happy to give you a kitten for free. You can expect to pay anywhere between $10 and $100 for a normal cat, but certain popular breeds like Maine Coons can go for as much as $200+.

We encourage you to consider picking up a cat or kitten from the local shelter, as these places are highly crowded during the summertime and you are really helping the world become a better place for animals by providing a warm and loving home to a shelter cat.

Chipping & spraying

The microchip is a worthwhile investment

While not necessary, it’s highly recommended to get a new cat chipped. Microchips are not th├ít expensive, and they can be very beneficial should your cat ever get lost. Placing the chip is painless, and your cat won’t even be aware of its’ existence. Expect to pay about $40 for the injection.

One-time investment:

  • cat: $50 (average)
  • microchip: $40
  • spraying & neutering: $100

The price of cat food

Cat food will probably be your biggest recurring expense as a cat owner. Prices vary of course, depending on the quality of the food you decide to give. The cheapest food will set you back about $5 per bag, and you will need roughly 2 bags a month for a single cat. We do encourage you to spend a little extra on a better product, as your cat will feel much healthier when she is getting the right nutrients in the right proportions.

  • Min. cost: $10 per month
  • Average cost: $20 per month

Healthcare and check-ups

When looking at how much it costs to adopt a cat, you also have to factor in healthcare. Buying a cat means you are also taking on the responsibility of looking after her health. Sadly, this is a crucial aspect that new pet owners often forget to consider.

Illness or accidents can turn into nasty surprises. The worst scenario is when people are forced to return their pets to the shelter because they aren’t able to afford bills from the vet.

We would hate to see you forced to return your new kitty to the shelter, so we think this is one of the most important things for potential pet parents to consider. Let us mark it in red:

Please consider the possible cost of future health care before you decide to buy a cat!

So how much does cat healthcare cost on average?
Joanna Woodnutt (MRCVS) estimates the average cat owner will spend about $20 per month on the bare essentials, These include vaccines, flea, ticks & worming, and treatment for the occasional illness or accident.The average cat owner will spend about $20 per month on essential healthcare.

Of course, medical care for cats can be a lot more extensive. Cat parents who can afford to spend more will often want to include other things like yearly or quarterly checkups (which are crucial for early detection of CKD), oral cleaning, treatment of gingivitis & periodontal disease, annual blood and urine tests. Some people also opt for a pet insurance policy. According to Joanna, these would roughly add up to about $60 per month.

  • Min. cost: $20 per month
  • Average. cost: $60 per month

Other essential supplies

When looking at the cost of adopting a cat, we also have to consider some investments that have to be made at the start. Fortunately, once these are done, the remaining recurring cost is relatively low.

So what supplies do you need to start with? You’ll probably want to prevent your cat from scratching your beautiful furniture, so a scratch post will come in handy. You can pick one up for around $30, but make sure you choose the right type and place it in a strategic spot.

Next, your cat needs a place to pee and poop. The litter box is a one-time purchase of around $20. To fill it up, you’ll have to buy litter once in a while. B-grade litter comes cheap, and will only set you back about $10 per month on average (though it might be worthwhile to invest in a higher quality product).

You also need some simple food and water bowls, which should not cost more than $10.

  • Starting investment: $60
  • Min. recurring cost: $10 per month

Let’s add it all up..

Infographic that shows all the various costs involved for keeping a cat

So we bought our cat, got her chipped, and spayed/neutered. We also bought some basic supplies that allow us to take care of her, and we’ve also accounted for future healthcare costs. But how much does it all add up to..?

If we take an average price of $50 for the new cat, your total starting investment would be around $250. This gets you a cat, treatment for spaying or neutering, a microchip, a standard litter box, food/water bowls, and a basic scratching post. You can obviously pick up additional toys and other useful things like catnip and a nice safe breakaway collar, but those are not essential. In fact, it’s easy enough to make your own toys out of cardboard boxes and other things lying around the house.

Once you’ve invested in some startup items, the recurring monthly costs for food, litter and vet bills in this article add up to about $40 per month for the bare essentials. Owners who want to go the extra mile with better quality healthcare and supplies can expect to pay somewhere between $50 – $100 on average each month.

Total cost in a lifetime
So how much does it cost to own a cat for a lifetime? Various attempts have been made to figure this out. Petcoach calculated the average cost at $809 per year, with the first year being a bit more expensive.

As most cats live an average of 9 to 15 years, this becomes an average lifetime cost of $7,646 to $12,500.


According to the PDSA, the average cat will cost you at least $14.000 over a lifetime. But they say this figure can increase up to two-fold, depending on the amount of extra healthcare and luxury supplies you want to add.

Looking at these two figures, we can safely say the total costs will probably be in the five-digit range. Cats are lovely companions that we can recommend to everyone, but this is a serious sum of money. Are you prepared to spend such an amount? You owe it to your future pet to consider this in advance.

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