What Does It Cost to Adopt a Cat?

Posted on
July 27, 2020
a woman lays in bed with two fluffy white cats she has adopted
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It’s important to know all of the costs associated with adopting a cat before you bring home your furry friend. Use this guide to figure out what you’ll need for your cat and see if you can fit the cost of adopting a cat into your budget. 

A cat waiting to be adopted stands up against the fence in a shelter.
Adopting a cat lowers the cost of getting a cat and saves the life of a cat in need.

Cat Costs

Adoption - $30-$150

Three cats lay together in a shelter waiting to be adopted.
The cost of a cat adoption varies depending on the shelter you use as well as on the age of the cat.

The cost of your cat adoption depends on a few variables. Each shelter sets its own fees, so check the details for the shelter you’re using to get an accurate price. 

Cost for cat adoptions is somewhat based on demand--a kitten generally costs more than an adult cat, with senior cats costing the least. 

When you look at the price at a specific shelter you should be able to look at what is included in the cost of cat adoption. There are some things that are usually included--if those things aren’t listed, you’ll most likely end up paying for them separately. Adoption feeds tend to include:

  • Spay/neuter - You’ll have to get your cat spayed or neutered if it isn’t already done by the shelter. The cost of a spay or neuter can be between $200 - $500 at a private veterinary clinic or closer to $50 - $100 at a non-profit spay/neuter clinic. 
  • Vaccines - Shelters will usually provide all age appropriate vaccines for your cat before you adopt it. All future vaccines are on you. 
  • Deworming - The risk of worms varies depending on where you live, but since shelters have lots of cats living together they will often provide deworming treatment for when the cat leaves the shelter. 
  • Flea control - Flea control is necessary both inside the shelter and your own house. The flea control from the shelter will last a little while, but then you’ll need to get additional flea (and possibly tick) control for your cat. There are many options for flea and tick prevention. 
  • Vet check up - The shelter will have made sure your cat is in good shape and doesn’t have any major issues before they send it home with you. If a cat does have health issues, the shelter will be able to tell you what the cat needs. 

Carrier - $15-$40

An adopted cat meows from inside a cat carrier.
The carrier isn’t usually a cat’s favorite place to be, but they’re necessary for transporting your cat. Luckily, carriers don’t add too much to the cost of adopting a cat. 

Once you’ve adopted a cat, you need a way to get it from the shelter or foster home to your own home. Having a cat, especially a cat you don’t know well yet, roam around your car freely isn’t really an option--you need a cat carrier. 

There are lots of options for cat carriers: hard shell carriers, light weight net carriers, carriers with wheels, and carriers designed for air travel. You’ll have to decide the ideal carrier for you and your cat. 

Food - $188 per year

An adopted cat sits at a restaurant table with a bowl of food on the table.
You don’t have to take your cat to a nice restaurant, but food still factors into the cost of adopting a cat. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Now it’s time to feed your cat. The shelter might send you home with some of the food your cat has already been eating--this helps smooth the transition and makes sure your cat has a food that definitely works for it. It’s up to you if you want to keep your cat on the same food the shelter used or try other options.

What you decide to feed your cat will determine the cost of cat food. On average, your cat food options will look like this:

  • Regular dry kibble - $5 - $8 a month
  • Premium or ‘holistic’ dry kibble - $8 - $16 a month
  • Canned wet food - $16 - $38 a month 
  • Frozen raw food - $16 - $38 a month 

You’ll know your cat best, so what you feed them will be up to you. You can ask your veterinarian what kind of food will be good for your cat.

Litter - $10-$25 a month plus initial $10-$100 

A person scoops cat litter.
Part of the cost of owning a cat goes towards a litter box, scoop, trash bags, and lots of litter. 

The litter box is an unfortunate reality of owning a cat--it needs to be there and it needs to be cleaned frequently. You’ll need to be ready with a litter box, scoop and trash bags.The costs of different litter box options include:

  • Standard - $6 - $15 
  • Hooded - $15 - $18
  • Speciality - $18 - $85
  • Automatic - $74 - $150

Once you choose a litter box, you can determine the cost of cat litter:

  • Traditional clay - $10 a month 
  • Clumping - $10 a month
  • Crystal - $15 a month
  • Natural - $25 a month

There are pros and cons for each variety of cat litter--make your decision based on what will be best for your cat while keeping your house as clean and odor free as possible. 

Bed - $6 - $300

An adopted cat sleeps peacefully in a comfortable cat bed.
Keep your cat comfy with a great bed.

There’s a huge range in price for cat beds because there’s a huge range in types of cat beds. You can get your cat anything from a thin mat to put on the floor to a stylish piece of furniture that might be classier than your own couch. 

There are pillow beds, orthopedic beds, covered beds, heated beds, and bolster beds. You can always let your cat use your own bed and furniture for napping, but having their own space is nice and helpful for keeping them (and their hair) out of your way sometimes. 

Toys - $28 a year

An adopted cat plays with a fuzzy blu cat toy.
Adding cat toys to the cost of cat adoption will hopefully spare your furniture from bored cat claws. 

Everyone’s cat toy budget is different, but $28 a year is what the average American cat owner spends on cat toys. Giving your cat things it is allowed to play with and scratch will hopefully limit damage to furniture, carpets, toilet paper, and anything else that looks fun to a cat. 

Before you break the bank on cat toys, remember cats often have just as much, if not more, fun with an empty cardboard box as with an expensive toy. The best cat toys tend to be scratching pots, small toys that behave like prey, and puzzles in which cats have to work to find treats. 

Vet Visits - $50 - $400 per visit

An adopted cat studies a cat poster at the veterinarian.
With vaccinations, check ups, and emergency appointments, veterinary care really adds to the cost of owning a cat. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Cat medical care costs are a significant part of the cost of owning a cat. Even if your cat stays healthy and doesn’t get hurt you still need routine check ups. These check ups monitor your cat’s health and establish a relationship with a veterinarian in case you ever had an emergency with your cat. 

You also have to keep your cat up to date with vaccines. Although not all cats need all these vaccines, there are cat vaccines for panleukopenia, rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, rabies, feline leukemia, and chlamydophila. Vaccines for your cat can run between $50 - $100.

Flea medication is something you can buy yourself, but your vet may have advice on which kind to get. You can expect to spend $30 - $60 a month on flea prevention. 

First Aid - $24.99

A row of Fauna Care products for first aid, fungal infections, and skin protection.
Fauna Care makes sprays for wound care, fungus, first aid, and skin protection. Image courtesy of fauna-care.com

First aid spray can save you costly vet visits by treating fresh skin wounds, cuts, and scrapes. You can protect your cat and help it heal with Bacitracin and Zinc in an economical and effective formula.  

With first aid sprays in your home you’ll be ready for wounds, fungal infections, skin protection, and any other healing your cat may need. 

A man hold his adopted kitten close to his face.
If you’re prepared for the cost of adopting a cat it’s time to start looking for your future furry friend!

Now you’re ready to see if adopting a cat will fit into your budget. By making smart choices and keeping your cat’s wellbeing in mind, you can keep your cat happy and healthy without spending more than you’re able. 


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Posted on
July 27, 2020
in
Advice
category

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