The typical cost to acquire and keep a cat for the first year is between $630 and $3325 (£362 to £2825). The annual cost for subsequent years is between $575 and $1710 (£314 to £1420).
Factors affecting the cost of having a cat include whether you adopt from a rescue or buy from a breeder, the breed of cat, and whether the cat is kept indoors or allowed outside.
As a “cat mom” to seven cats, I’ve done some careful analysis on how much they cost. Here I share my research and experience of cat costs, along with tips on how to save money without compromising your cats health.
Below is a breakdown of how much a cat costs per year for both the UK and the USA. It gives approximate costs for the first year and subsequent annual costs of keeping a cat. Prices shown in dollars and GB pounds reflect the market prices in each country and not the exchange rate.
|Item||1st Year||Subsequent |
|US Dollars $||GB Pounds £||US Dollars $||GB Pounds £|
|Adoption Fee/Purchase Price||50-1000||50-1000||0||0|
|Flea & Tick Prevention||100-240||45-120||100-240||45-120|
|Food & Water Bowls||15-30||15-25||0||0|
|Litter Box and Scoop||20-100||15-100||0||0|
For further information click on the links the table, or read on.
Please note that this article does not represent financial or veterinary advice.
Adoption Fee or Purchase Cost of a Cat
Buying a pedigree kitten from a breeder will cost more than adopting a cat or kitten from a shelter or rescue centre. The cost of buying a pedigree cat varies according to breed, but examples are Siamese $800 (£600 in UK), Bengal $1500 (£700 in UK) and Ragdoll $800 (£1000 in UK).
Shelter adoption fees vary between $50-200 (£60-£120 in UK), and often include vaccinations, micro chipping and spaying/neutering.
Spaying a female cat costs more than neutering a male cat. In the US spaying/neutering costs $200-$400 at a private vet clinic. Non-profit clinics will neuter for less than $100, and the ASPCA has a list of low cost schemes throughout the USA.
The cost of spaying/neutering in the UK is approximately £60-80 at a vet clinic, but many charities run means-tested neutering schemes.
Cats from shelters and charities are usually spayed or neutered before being adopted.
Kittens and unvaccinated cats need more inoculations in their first year. In the US they will need FVRCP x 3, FeLV x 3 and Rabies x 1. Each vaccine costs $25-$50, plus a physical examination by the vet on first visit $40-$60. Boosters will be required once a year (or up to three years for rabies, depending on state requirements).
In the UK, cats require FVRCP x 2 and FeLV x 2 (approx £75) plus vet examination fee (£30-£40). Boosters are required once a year.
Cats from shelters and charities are partially or fully vaccinated before being adopted, depending on age.
A microchip allows your cat to be identified and returned to you if they are lost or stolen. It costs approximately $45 or £25. Cats adopted from shelters and charities will already be microchipped.
Flea and Tick Prevention
The most effective flea and tick prevention treatments are those available from your vet. They can advise on the best product according to your cats lifestyle. Approximate costs per year are $200-$240 or £45-£120.
It is best to take advice from your vet on the best worming treatment for your cat. Some products are administered monthly whilst others will last three months. Approximate costs per year are $60-$100 or £15-£60.
Dry cat food, even premium brands, works out by far the cheapest way to feed a cat. An excellent study by the Foster Hospital For Small Animal’s Clinical Nutrition Service compared the cost of feeding various types of commercial cat food. It found that good quality cat food is available for every budget, with dry food costing $86-$352 annually, and wet food costing $446-$2107.
Drawing from our own experience, equivalent food in the UK would cost approximately £100-£500.
If you have a kitten, the first year costs will be higher as kitten food is more expensive.
Cat treats are optional, but can be useful when training your new cat to come to call or use the litter tray. You can buy biscuit treats and cat milk, or give your cat a piece of fish or meat from your own plate as a cheaper option. Estimated annual costs are $0-$100 (£0-£70).
Food and Water Bowls
Stainless steel bowls are the most robust and easy to clean, and be bought for approximately $15-$30 (£15-£30) for two.
Litter Box and Scoop
Litter boxes vary, from simple plastic trays to automatic self cleaning units. It is important to select one that is large enough for your cat to fit inside and turn around. A covered box will help prevent the spread of litter and contain odours. The one off cost of a standard litter box is approximately $20-$100 (£15-£100).
An average indoor cat will use around 20lbs/18kgs of cat litter per month. There are several types, namely clumping, non-clumping, pellets and crystals. Non-clumping cat litter is the cheapest, and crystals the most expensive, but its difficult to compare like for like as the litter changing frequency is different. Bulk buying will help save costs.
If your cat is allowed access to outside then your cat litter costs should be zero. Otherwise budget for cat litter costs of around $200-$300 per year (£200-£275).
You will need to transport your new cat to and from the vet during the first year, so you need a cat carrier. Ensure you buy one big enough for your cats size when it is fully grown. The one off cost of a cat carrier is $20-$50 (£20-£50).
Your cat needs a scratching post so it can exhibit healthy behaviour without damaging your furniture or carpets. Our research found a study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science which concluded that cats prefer vertical standing scratching posts made from cardboard and rope. These can be purchased for approximately $15-$50 (£15-£50).
Cats, particularly indoor cats, need toys to provide mental and physical stimulation. Toys enrich your cat’s day to day life and keep them physically active, so they stay fit and healthy and avoid behavioural issues. There is a huge choice of cat toys available, in our experience our cats favourites are jingly balls, feathers on sticks, laser pointers and cat nip mice. A budget of $10-$50 per year (£10-£50) would allow for an extensive choice of toys for your cat.
Having pet insurance will help protect you against unexpected costs for your cat, such as vet bills. The cost of policies vary greatly, as does the extent of cover, and your choice of policy may be limited if you have an older cat. If you shop around you should be able to gain cover for between $240-$360 (£84-£300) per year.
Here are some other costs you may want to consider when budgeting for your cat.
Pet Sitting/Boarding Fees
If you are fond of vacations you need to consider how your cat will be cared for whilst you are away. The cheapest option may be asking a neighbour or relative to help. Otherwise the services of a pet sitter or boarding facility will be required. Costs vary greatly depending on where you live, but you should budget for approximate costs of $10-$30 (£10-£25) per day.
Pet Fees/Pet Rent/Pet Deposit
If you rent your home, having a cat may increase your costs in the form of pet fees, pet rent or a higher deposit. This is to cover any additional wear and tear caused by your cat. Pet fees are a one time non-refundable charge, pet rent is a monthly charge and a pet deposit is a one time refundable charge. Charges vary in each individual case so it is difficult to estimate costs, but it’s something to bear in mind if you are in rented accommodation.
Emergency Vet Bills
Unexpected vet bills if your cat is ill or injured can run into $1000’s so you need a plan for how you could pay these. This could include pet insurance, setting money aside each month or having a credit card for such emergencies.
What to do Next?
If you’ve decided that cat parenthood is definitely for you, then check out our article on Friendliest Cat Breeds to help you choose your new feline friend.