When potential pet owners decide to welcome a furry four-legged addition to their family, they often do so on a spontaneous whim and without much planning involved. Many people simply stop by an animal shelter, see a cute purring kitty, and decide to take it home with them. Initially, they think that cats are low maintenance and low cost. Mostly, as far as pet ownership goes, cats do tend to look after themselves pretty well. However, it is still important to consider the potential cost of owning a cat. Cats are not as cheap as most people might assume.
When it comes to pet ownership, there are one-time expenses as well as recurring expenses involved. There are also emergencies that you should be ready for, otherwise, you might find yourself in a heartbreaking situation where you can't cover your pets medical expenses. Do not consider getting a cat companion if you are already struggling financially as it will only produce unnecessary stress.
If you are considering getting a cat, read our cat ownership financial must-knows below.
Why You Should Consider Finances First
Yes, he is looking at you with those sweet innocent eyes while purring. It appears as if he is begging you to take him home with you. First meetings are usually always heart wrenching, but are you ready for the cost of owning a cat? Unlike clothing or electronics, it is a consistent expense.
The majority of pets are costly. Even though cats are mostly low maintenance, cat ownership does come with many financial responsibilities. There is much more money that will be spent on your new furry friend than just the initial adoption fee. Indoor cats rely on you to look after them, feed them, and change their litter. The cost of owning a cat is a big factor to consider when deciding to get one. It's important to ask yourself if you are able to incorporate a pet into your financial budget.
If you're out of a job, living off of your savings, or currently residing with relatives, you may consider postponing the purchase of a pet until you have gained a better financial and living situation. Cats, while self-sufficient, will still require multiple things to ensure their safety, comfortability, and overall livelihood.
What Is the Cost of Owning a Cat?
The cost of owning a cat varies depending on the breed, age, and any special requirements. All cats are different. There are some cats that are able to digest certain store-bought pet food while others may be required to be on a special diet requiring certain organic food. Regarding medical expenses, there are cats who have the ability to live a long and healthy life, while other cats may remain sickly needing several trips to the veterinarian. When you're getting a cat, it's difficult to predict these circumstances. Therefore, embark upon the journey expecting anything and being prepared that you might encounter unanticipated costs.
When initially purchasing a pet, you will have some obvious onetime expenses such as a carrier bag, scratching post, cat bed, and a litter box. You will also have recurring expenses, such as food, litter, and flea medication.
Here are some of the most common financial responsibilities you should consider when it comes to the cost of owning a cat:
To prevent the possibility of your cat reproducing a litter of kittens, you will have to get your cat spayed/neutered. The cost of spaying/neutering a cat can be anywhere from $200-$500.
Even the best-kept indoor cat will still have minor vet expenses. Usually, visits to the vet can be extremely costly. A cat will need to visit the vet for several procedures including vaccines, and flea treatments. A simple annual pet check-up can cost up to $250. If your pet requires any additional tests, vaccinations, or medication, the price for care can potentially rise depending on the vet.
Cats (especially indoor cats) are known for their exceptionally large food intake. The estimated cost for a bag of dry food for one cat per month varies. The cost mostly depends on what brand you choose, and what type of food your cat prefers. A regular 20-pound bag is around $25.
After a cat gets their fair share of food, they will use a litter box. It is advised to buy a lot of litter, especially for younger cats. Older cats won't require as much litter. Usually, you will add extra litter into the box daily. A 20-pound bag of litter will cost around $15.
Thankfully, cats don't need as many toys as dogs. However, they still need to be kept entertained. Without the necessary toys, a cat may busy himself scratching the furniture, or grooming themselves excessively. Cats are natural hunters and will need a comfortable and playful environment to occupy their senses while keeping them intrigued. A cat toy may cost anywhere between $5-$10.
Pet Health Insurance
More often than not, pet owners tend not to take the importance of pet health insurance seriously. Medical insurance should be a priority on the list of items to ensure the cat's overall livelihood. For example, if the cat was to need surgery at any point, the insurance would be available to cover some if not all of the medical expenses. Without the insurance, the owner is faced with the disadvantage of having to pay out of pocket for costly procedures. Pet insurance can cost anywhere from $20.00 to a $100.00 per month.
To avoid expensive vet visits, especially if your cat is allergic to flea bites, it's important to stay consistent with their flea medication schedule. Flea medication is very important especially in the summer months when fleas are abundant. Cat flea treatments cost anywhere from $30 to $100 per month.
There are also many miscellaneous costs to be considered with pet ownership. For example, if your cat can't access his/her litter box due to reasons beyond your control, the cat could ruin carpeting and other furniture. Expenses could accumulate from carpet cleaning, upholstery, and other household repairs. It's best to be prepared for other random costs such as boarding/pet sitter, stain removers, treats, new food bowls, and window perches.
Ways to Prepare Financially for Your New Pet
In order to prepare properly for the potential cost of owning a cat, it is a good idea to figure out how much money you will need to spend on your cute friend. Costs can vary and will depend on what brand of food, toys, and litter that you will be purchasing. Always add in an emergency fund as you can never prepare for the possible needs of your pet. Unexpected medical expenses can turn into thousands of dollars depending on the severity of the situation. Regarding living in an apartment complex or a rental property, you will need to be prepared for the possibility of having to pay a pet deposit. Some communities also add a special cleaning fee to the cost or the rent.
It's a good idea to write out your budget with all potential cat related costs. Afterward, you should have a good idea if you can comfortably fit a pet into your finances. For example, think of having a pet as having a car. You have to maintain the car consistently, otherwise, you will end up spending a lot more fixing it when it breaks down.
With a cat, that means making sure it is spayed/neutered, eating the food for its age and activity level, and keeping up with their vaccination and flea treatments. In addition, taking the cat in for regular vet visits will ensure a happy and healthy pet. With pets, it's best to invest in preventative care instead of dealing with an avalanche of problems at a later date. Trying to cut corners when caring for your cat, will only prove to become a costly situation in the long run.
Having a pet is a wonderful and one of a kind experience. A pet can be a best friend, a member of the family, a playmate, and can sometimes be closer to us than our human relatives. These innocent animals provide constant companionship, unconditional love, and bouts of intense laughter at their hilarious antics. However, getting a pet is not a decision that should be made without much consideration, as you're taking on a living being who will depend on you to look after them. Therefore, it is best to ensure that you have done thorough preparation for your new furry friend.
If there is financial stress, unsuitable living arrangements, or an unstable environment, a pet will only bring more stress on each level. Pets, like children, require many financial sacrifices. At times, these financial sacrifices can become slightly uncomfortable based on the situation. It is wise to do diligent research regarding every expense before committing your life to care for a pet.