A hero image with a black cat and illustrated pink piggy bank. How much does it cost to be a cat parent?

The Cost of Cat Parenthood in 2023

The Cost of Cat Parenthood: New Cat Expenses

Bringing a new cat home can come with a handful of surprising initial expenses. We’re here to demystify the budget. It’s not just kibble and litter that your cat needs. When it comes to bringing a cat home, you can expect the upfront costs to range from $755-$3,020 in the first year. 

First-Time Cat Costs

Item From To
Adoption fees $35 $220
Spay or neuter surgery $270 $540
Microchip $110 $110
Initial vet exam and vaccinations $215 $540
Collar $5 $30
Bed $10 $50
Food $15 $75
Food and water bowls $5 $145
Litter box $10 $750
Litter $5 $90
Pet license $20 $100
Carrier $20 $145
Scratching post $20 $135
Brush $5 $30
Nail trimmers $5 $30
Toys $5 $30
Total $755 $3,020

Let’s break these costs down.

First up, adoption fees

The cost of adopting a cat is usually in the ballpark of $35-$220, but can balloon towards the $500-$1,000 range if you opt to get your cat from a breeder. If your kitty isn’t spayed or neutered yet, keep in mind that those surgeries range in cost from $270-$540 for most cat parents, unless you adopt and they’ve already had it done.

Wellness check and pet license

Other essential one-time costs include getting your cat microchipped in case they ever get lost (average cost $110) and making sure they’re up to date on vaccinations, which typically cost $215-$540, including the vet exam visit. You may also be able to find low cost cat vaccination programs near you.

You’ll also want to factor in the cost of a pet license, which is usually fairly inexpensive, ranging from $20-$100, depending on the state you live in.

Cat supply costs

To help your new kitty feel at home and like part of the family, you’ll want to make sure you have the following:

Don’t be intimidated by the higher price in these ranges. There are increasingly a ton of options for those who want a high tech automated cat feeder or premium natural cat litter. Opting for items on the more affordable end doesn’t mean your cat is missing out on any love, care, or fun.

The Cost of Cat Parenthood: Annual Essentials

Cost of Owning a Cat Per Year

Item From To
Food $180 $870
Litter $55 $525
Toys $5 $75
Annual check up $85 $130
Total $325 $1,600

Once your cat is all settled in, it’s important to factor in the costs you can expect to pay every year. These annual costs usually add up to between about $325-$1,600 per year for the average cat parent. This is an increase of about 8% since 2022.

Here’s why the cost of owning a cat has such a varied range:

  • Food costs: Most cat parents spend between $180-$870 on food, depending on the brand and type of food and how much your kitty needs to eat. Your cat might prefer low-cst dry kibble and premium wet food for example. They might even want fresh foods for cats.
  • Litter: Another essential for most cat parents, litter typically costs between $55-$525 a year to keep your cat’s bathroom fresh and clean. Some cats can be picky and will only use the litter box if you get the right brand.
  • Toys: While cats aren’t as prone to regularly destroying their toys like dogs, it’s important to keep them active and stimulated with new toys to hunt and play with. Cat toys cost anywhere from $5 to $75 a year depending on how often you need to replace them.
  • Routine vet visits: These cost the typical cat parent about $85-$130 per year.

The Cost of Cat Parenthood: Optional Extras

Additional Cat Expenses

Item From To
Emergency vet bills $215 $1,615
Dental cleaning $430 $645
Drop in visits $20 $140
Grooming $40 $100
Apartment pet deposit $150 $500
Pet insurance $240 $360
Litter Genie $20 $30
Total $1,170 $3,605

While these expenses may not come up for every pet parent, it’s important to keep surprise costs in mind. These surprise costs, which can range from emergency to optional, average between $1,170-$3,605 total.

Here’s what may factor into your surprise costs budgeting:

  • Emergency vet visit: Hopefully you’ll never need to go to an emergency vet, but if you do a visit can average anywhere from $215-$1,615.
  • Dental hygiene: Teeth cleaning is another expense not every pet parent opts for, but if you decide to schedule a cleaning be prepared to pay anywhere from $430-$645.
  • Pet insurance: You may also opt for pet insurance, which can help with alleviating large costs. Pet insurance for cats can cost anywhere from $240-$360 per year. Whether pet insurance is worth it will come down to how you prioritize your finances.
  • Cat-sitting: Depending on your lifestyle and schedule, you may decide to book pet care for your cat. The average for pet sitting comes in at $20 per night.
  • Grooming appointments: A typical cat grooming appointment costs between $40-$100. If you have a long-haired cat or breed with a coat that requires regular maintenance,  grooming is an important appointment to budget for.
  • Litter disposal system: For many cat parents, litter disposal systems have become indispensable. They’re a bit like diaper pails for cat litter, and are relatively inexpensive to purchase at about $20-$30.
  • Pet deposit: If you rent your home, you’ll likely need to pay additional pet rent or put down a pet deposit  before bringing your cat home. This expense usually adds up to about $150-$500 annually for the average renter.

The Cost of Cat Parenthood: End of Life

End of Life Considerations

Item From To
Euthanasia $400 $800
Cremation $50 $150
Special foods $50 $150
Vet visits and medical costs $100 $1,000
Total $600 $2,100

As pet parents, it sometimes feels impossible to think about what our beloved cat’s end of life might look like, but it’s important to budget for. This is perhaps the time when costs vary the most, depending on your cat’s case and your own preferences. Vet visit costs will vary, but we’ve put together an estimate for some considerations totaling between $600 and $2,100.

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Sources: Rebecca Greenstein, B.Sc., D.V.M., The Pet People, Chewy, Petco, Animal Humane Society, Apartments.com, Zillow, Nicole Ellis, Thumbtack, Seattle Humane Society, Rover

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