How much per year does it cost to own a cat?

It’s been about 30 years since I owned a cat. I don’t miss the fur all over everything, and changing litter boxes, and mopping up the occasional vomit. But sometimes I think it would be nice to have a kitty around.

But I’m not the silly, happy-go-lucky, carefree kid I was in my early twenties. Hell, I hadn’t even been to college. Now, I’m a serious, no-nonsense, tight-ass, tightwad.

All I care about is the bottom line. What’s it gonna cost me? How many purrs will I get per dollar? If we can make a case that cat ownership is a cost-effective form of innocent entertainment, I may be able to bring it to the board and get a special allocation of funds for feline acquisition.

So what should I expect, assuming little or no cost to acquire the kitty? Count everything: food, litter, other consumables, average regular vet bills, etc. (I already own a litter box, for when my sister visits with her cat, so there’s a big saving right there!)

You can see where I live in the upper right, if that makes a difference.


Your heart and soul. The tangibles are insignificant.

Depends, of course, on the health and regular maintenance of your pet. But $1000 for the first year and $500 a year after that isn’t an insane estimate. That includes health insurance @ $175 a year, though, and I actually only know one person who pays for that.

It really depends on your cat. Some cats come free from the litter next door and are happy to eat friskies all their lives. Those may only cost you $400 or $500 a year. Some cats have more sensitive digestive systems and require much medical care. My estimate for cat expenses this year is about $5000 when I take into account all the medical bills, food, litter, etc. This is probably a low estimate actually since one of my cats now has to have prescription food to deal with his urinary tract issues and it is really, really expensive. If you feel like you might sort of want to own a cat instead of feeling like you need a fuzzy belly to snorgle in the night you may want to foster kitties or work at the shelter instead of taking on that responsibility in your household.

If this is actually your attitude and not mere hyperbole for dramatic effect, my advice is don’t bother.

How many cats is this?


But thanks for that link!

C’mon Q.E.D., I thought your hyperbole meter was a little more sensitive than that. Didn’t the line about “bringing it to the board” give you a faint hint that maybe I wasn’t being 100% serious?

My H-meter is rusty from all the damp weather we’ve had. :stuck_out_tongue:

  1. My cat Joey spent 3 days in 24 hour emergency care because of a urinary blockage that would have killed him otherwise. That alone cost $3200 dollars. Earlier in the year I spent another $1000 on medical care for Oliver to figure out why his poop had blood streaks in it. Now both cats are incredibly healthy after treatment but medical emergencies are a “when, not if” proposition and you should expect to spend lots of money in one fell swoop when your new furbaby gets really ill.

I suspect **pbbth **isn’t going :rolleyes:. (Although, to be fair, I don’t know if her fuzzball’s treatment would all fall under the insurance plan.)

I’m a little less sentimental about my cats than most - more than about $500 for any one year’s worth of medical bills, and they can take a nice cozy dirt nap, after some last scritches and 'nip and a painless death. I wish the same for myself, should I be a burden on my family. (Well, maybe morphine instead of catnip.) No judgement towards those who do spend more (or have more to spend), but there’s a wide range of investments in the feline ownership market.

I’m not sure about how much for a year, but here’s a week: I found a kitten in the rain last Tuesday. She was free, obviously, and has no dramatic health problems aside from a few parasites that can be handled cheaply.

It has, thus far, cost me around $120 for her. I already had a litter box, too, so that didn’t factor into it at all. That money has been spent on food, toys (I can’t leave her with nothing to do while I’m at work, after all) and a trip to the vet.

She still needs her vaccinations and to be fixed, not to mention a few more dewormings. I estimate that in the next two months I’ll spend around $450. After that, barring any illnesses or injuries, it should be a bit cheaper for the rest of the year.

But to balance off this cost, note that recent studies have shown that cat owners have lower levels of stress. Sufficiently lower levels as to reduce their risk of heart attacks by 40%. And 30% lower chance of a stroke, heart failure, or any cardiovascular disease. (See

Compared to the cost of even a few days in a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit of a hospital, you could pay for many years of owing a cat.

Thanks for saying this. I thought of saying something about not letting medical costs get out of hand, but was afraid of a possible backlash.

I’m a bit appalled when I hear about people spending tens of thousands of dollars on organ transplants and other extreme measures for ailing aged pets. Everyone’s free to do what they want with their money, of course, but I think it’s a little weird when people invest the same emotion in their pets as they would in a child. I say this as someone with a sister whose involvement with her cat creeps me out a little sometimes.

Growing up in a family that has been professional breeders of horses, dogs, and cats, we have had to face this many times. A quote from my mother always seemed appropriate to me:
“An animal that has served you well and faithfully all its’ life should be allowed to go peacefully when the time comes. Extreme measures beyond this are usually about your feelings, not what is best for the animal.”

This is especially true when you realize that the animal does not understand why it is undergoing these uncomfortable medical treatments – it can’t comprehend the possibility that it may recover in the future.

I adopted my cat from a friend’s vet office. Monty was about six months old and already neutered and with all his shots, so I avoided those costs. He’s five now, so my only expenses are litter and food. Off hand I’d guess I spend less than $20 per month. He’s easily entertained by improvised (free) toys and a couple of recycled scratching posts.

You can easily get a healthy, adult, spayed/neutered, up to date on shots cat out of the paper for free. Beyond that, if you keep him inside, minimal vaccinations are needed, less than $50 a year for that. Cat food should run you, for one cat, maybe $15 a month, litter maybe another $7. Cats enjoy wadded up post-it notes and bottle caps as much as commercial cat toys, so you can get away with minimal expenditures there. I agree with Whynot about the extreme vet bills. Cats can be pretty cheap, especially if you don’t insist on a kitten.

My cats have never cost me anywhere near $500/year. I’m lucky to have a good relationship with my vet, (with 11 animals you have to!) and they usually give me a discount on services. The local low-cost clinic will do annual shots for about $35. Other than that they don’t go to the vet. For me to use the emergency clinic, the animal would have to be bleeding uncontrollably or something. Otherwise they can wait until the next day. (If it makes you feel better, I’m pretty much the same way for myself. I did go to the ER when I dislocated a finger, but otherwise I wait) It’s call Emergency for a reason.


Well, there’s a big difference in $500 on a miserable, 20 year old animal and $500 on a young animal that with the added five hundred bucks will be healthy and happy. A wise pet owner hopefully can tell the difference.

You’re forgetting to factor in the risk of the cat stealing your breath while you sleep.


By my soon-to-be-ex-wife’s reckoning, the following is reasonable over a span of three years:

[li]$500.00, ultrasound for cardiomyopathy[/li][li]$10/month for Atenolol for the above[/li][li]$2000, exploratory surgery resulting in an IBD diagnosis[/li][li]$12/month for Prednisolone for the above[/li][li]$30/month, prescription food[/li][li]$3500 to have an intestinal carcinoma removed, and finally…[/li][li]$200 for housecall euthanasia after the cancer metastasizes and the poor guy can’t breathe any more.[/li][/ul]

He also had a touch of pancreatitis and was mostly blind due to hypertension.

On the other hand, I just adopted a four-month-old barn kitten. I paid $160 to have her de-bugged and vaccinated, and I’ll pay a couple hundred for the chop-chop in a few months, but after that, anything over $500.00 in a single year means that she’s going gentle into that good night.

I mean, she’s sweet, and she’s an awesome pet, but she’s a cat. I do spring for Science Diet and that pricey corn-based Arm-and-Hammer litter. I’m not a complete tightwad.

Thank god they don’t calculate pet support at divorce court.

We budget around $900 a year for our two cats.

That covers an annual checkup at the vet (~$100 per cat), blood sugar checks on the diabetic kitteh twice a year (~$80 per visit), good quality cat food for one ($50 every 4 months) and special diabetic food for the other ($45 every 2 months), litter ($30 every 4 months), plus odds and ends like treats, toys, scratching posts and the like.

That doesn’t factor in the inevitable emergency trips to the vet every couple of years, which are never cheap. The last one ended up being the result of complications of undiagnosed feline diabetes, and cost us $400 for the initial visit and another $160 in followup appointments.

If getting a cat was a sound financial decision, none of us would have pets. That said, the $800 is totally worth it to me when I’ve got a purring mound of happy cat on my lap.