Here's How Much It Costs per Year to Own a Cat

A young woman shops on her laptop holding her credit card while her cat lounges in the background

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Cats are tricky buggers. They last your entire childhood, spend half their time ignoring you, and cost you a fortune in kitty litter. That's only a small exaggeration. A whopping 98% of pet owners drastically underestimate the cost of owning a pet. Cat ownership is rewarding, but it's a lot.

Before deciding to adopt an on-and-off sometimes-friend who will stare at you in your sleep, consider the money. First, you'll want to know what it costs to raise your cute cat, according to data provided by DailyPaws.

Fixed expenses

Fixed expenses are what you pay during the first year of cat ownership. Like dogs, cats require a down deposit of sorts in order to get them settled into life with humans. It typically costs anywhere from $1,100 to $2,000 to pay for first-time cat expenses.

The estimated top three expenses are fees for adoption, spay or neuter surgery, and initial vet exams and vaccinations. Costs for veterinary services might be less if your cat has preventive pet insurance, which typically covers checkups and standard kitty procedures.

When cat owners think of pet expenses, they might think of collars, beds, food bowls, and litter boxes, among other things. Here are more costs potential cat owners might not consider:

  • Toys and scratching post ($20 to $100)
  • Carrier ($40 to $75)
  • Pet deposit ($0 to $400)

When mapping out a budget, leave room for unexpected expenses like additional vet visits. You never know when your cat will start projectile vomiting and force you to take a hasty trip to your local emergency vet. (It's happened before.)

Recurring expenses

Recurring expenses can pop up monthly or annually. You'll want to factor these into your long-term plans on top of monthly living expenses and housing costs. Recurring costs will run you $425 to $3,120 per year, or $35 to $260 per month.

The top recurring expense is food, which can cost $120 to $500 annually. Here are a few more examples of recurring expenses:

  • Routine vet care ($100 to $300)
  • Litter ($70 to $150)
  • Treats ($15 to $100)

Cat owners don't want to get caught unaware -- kitty health is important, and the above estimates don't account for things like grooming, pet insurance, and emergency vet bills. The cost of these "extras" can cost upwards of $1,100 annually, so plan accordingly in the event your cat develops chronic digestive issues, bloats like a hot air balloon, and requires specialized cat food for the rest of his life. (I speak from experience.)

Pet insurance

Pet insurance can help owners cover the cost of preventive care and emergency services. The best pet insurance for cats will give you the most bang for your buck.

Older kitties deserve care, too. The best pet insurance for pre-existing conditions may cover costs associated with "cured" conditions that resurface later in life. Note that insurance for older pets is typically more expensive than for younger ones.

Potential cat owners should consider doing a bit of research before bringing home a forever friend. Total lifetime expenses for a pet cat can range from $4,250 to $31,200. It's a good idea to know how much you're willing to spend ahead of time. Your fluffy friend will appreciate you for it.

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