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How Much Does A Cat Cost Per Month – The Complete Guide

How Much Does A Cat Cost Per Month – The Complete Guide

When purchasing or adopting a cat, there are many things to consider. One is will you be home enough to care for your cat. The other is do you have the funds to afford a cat. Cat ownership is more than just food and toys; it involves everything they need to be healthy and to live an enjoyable life too. So, how much does a cat cost per month? 

Cats cost $83 per month on average. Those costs can double during the first year of pet ownership. Annually, cats cost around $500 – $1000 per year. Age, health, gender, vet fees, and breed affect the price of monthly cat ownership.  

Owning a cat is quite the investment whether you look at it on a monthly or annual spectrum. Let’s look at some charts and other situations to determine we came to those figures, and what your cat might cost to take care of. 

How Expensive Is It To Keep A Cat

The amount is costs to have a cat as a pet is determined by the breed of your cat and any health issues he/she has. Many pet owners expect things like food and vet bills, but they don’t analyze the entire scope of cat ownership. Here are all things you need to think about, both big and small, for cat ownership. It includes costs to adopt a cat, food, vaccinations, and much more.

Specific prices are covered further in this article.

Item Cost For Kittens Cost For Adult Cats
Adoption fee/payment to the breeder $125 – $175 $125 – $175
Spay/neuter (if not covered by shelter or breeder) $200 $200
Initial three rounds of shots $75 – $150  $75 – $150
Pet wipes $5 – $30 $5 – $30
Flea/tick prevention $40 – $150 $40 – $150
Pet insurance $15/month $15/month
Apartment pet deposits $200 – $500 $200 – $500
Monthly pet rent $50 $50
Litter, litter box, and litter supplies $225 $300
Food (keep in mind kittens eat considerably more than adult cats) $500 $400
Emergency vet care (kittens like to get themselves into situations they shouldn’t) $90 – $210 $90 – $210
Toys and cat trees $5 – $30 $10 – $179
Boarders and pet sitters $25 – $179 $45 – $179
Replacements for furniture, carpets, rugs $40 – $2000 $40 – $2000
Dental tools and treats $9 $39
Grooming tools/visits to a groomer $15 $15
Regular vet visits & preventative meds $120 $120
Cleaning costs to clean areas the kitten soils $15 $15

Many fees will repeat when adopting an adult cat. However, most of those fees will be lower. 

Adult cats should need fewer shots than kittens. If adopting from a rescue, those shots and the spay/neuter would come standard. While medical issues can occur, personalities in adult cats are better formed, and they are less likely to get into things they shouldn’t do (unlike kittens).

Adults cats will also eat less than kittens. We have to make sure we don’t overfeed adult cats, whereas kitten, we have to get them plump and keep them growing! Adult cats also tend to come from shelters as breeders deal with kittens, not adult cats.

The kind of toys you get to entertain an adult cat will likely cost more than a kitten. Adult cats need bigger toys to keep their interest, so having a small pet mouse just won’t cut it for most cats. You’ll have to invest in electronic toys which can be quite costly, but they’ll keep your cat entertained. 

Litter costs will also be different too. Since kittens are smaller, they can make their litter last longer. As the cat ages, you’ll need to invest more in cat litter. These are the monthly costs of cat litter. There are of course cats who enjoy playing in the litter box, especially at the kitten age, so it’s not uncommon to have to replace the litter often in the first few weeks of pet ownership.

The most expensive costs associated both with a kitten or adult cat are the replacement of furniture. Furniture can cost very little, or a lot, and depends on what you have in the home. If a cat were to scratch open a luxury leather sofa and it’s not repairable, you should expect to replace that entire sofa. 

To help with this, you may want to invest in furniture protecting shields and covers. This way, when your cat scratches on the material, it won’t be at risk. This can save you a lot of costs in the long run, and it’s really a one-time investment. Learn more about cats scratching furniture in this article

How Much Does Cat Food Cost Per Month?

The cost of a cat’s food will vary based on your cat’s age, any medical problems, and even gender. The price will differ if you feed your cat wet, dry, raw, or a combination. 

The following chart shows some average in terms of food costs for a cat. These costs are averages. For example, cans of wet food can cost anywhere from .55¢ for Fancy Feast to $1.57 for Weruva (based on a 3-ounce can). Dry cat food is anywhere from $5 for Meow Mix to $21 for Hill’s Premium Cat food (based on a 4-pound bag for adults and 7-pound bag for kittens).

Prescription food is an entirely different price structure, with bags costing anywhere from $26-$56. Combination feeding is excluded from this chart since there are too many variables for that answer. RX food is labeled as adult cats only since there are not RX food options for kittens, or they are limited to one brand.

Also, note the amount listed for kittens; your kitten may need more based on age. Young kittens each significantly more than older kittens. This is based on one can per day, and some kitten can eat three cans of wet food per day.

Food Type Kitten (cost per day) Adult (cost per day) RX Food (adult cats only)/cost per day
Dry (based on ¾ cup per day from a 4lb bag for adults, 7lbs for kittens) .85¢ $1.62 $2.02
Wet (based on one 3 oz can per day) $1.02 $1 $2.04
Raw n/a $1.87 n/a (there are no raw RX diets)

So in summary, plan to budget at least $548 per year for food. It’s really not a cost you can get away from unless you plan to make your own raw cat food at home.

As cats develop health problems, you’ll end up paying on the higher end for prescription food. So, you can expect your monthly costs to certainly rise over the cat’s lifespan. To help avoid that rise, you should always feed your cat quality food from the beginning. 

How Much Does Cat Litter Cost Per Month?

Litter costs are based on what type of litter you use, the brand you select, how many litter boxes your cat has, and how often you have to replace all the litter in the box. Also, factor in litter liners and litter box deodorizers if you use those. 

My current cat has two boxes, and he uses a separate one for each kind of “business” he does. I have to replace the litter completely and wash the boxes about every two weeks.

His predecessor was far more finicky and would prefer that his box be scraped almost immediately after using it, plus he wanted it refreshed and washed 1-2 times per week. If it weren’t cleaned to his liking, he would use the floor beside his box. My litter costs were far higher with my previous cat than they are with my current cat. My current cat uses about 21 pounds of litter per month. His predecessor used that in a week and a half.    

There are also multiple types of cat litter to choose from. My cat uses clumping clay, but there is also non-clumping clay, crystal litters, and litter made from natural products like wood chips. Non-clumping is the least expensive of the choices. The average cost of a 14-pound container of litter (any material) will average about $10.

Other things to consider would be:

  • Yearly replacing of litter boxes
  • Litter box liners, if you choose to use them
  • Litter trash can and trash bags
  • Litter mat
  • Litter deodorizer

Budget $120 per year for litter and supplies.

How Much Does Cat Grooming Cost?

The cost of cat grooming costs between $15 – $100 per cat. Grooming costs will depend on your cat’s coat and if they need a professional groomer to help. Also, think about your cat’s nails as a part of grooming.  

My long-haired cat requires daily brushing. His coat gets matted easily, so when I notice mats, I have to use a different brush than when his coat isn’t knotted. His knotted fur brush was $15, and his regular brush is $12.

Every 1-2 years, he also needs a professional shaving from a groomer. If his fur gets too difficult to brush but doesn’t need to be shaved, he has to go in for a bath and blowout. His lion cut costs $100, and his blowouts cost $50. His fur can also have dandruff patches, so I have to use a dandruff spray on him that costs $8.

If your cat doesn’t need this much work on their fur, you can estimate grooming will be the cost of the brush. If your cat has longer fur or skin issues, you can use the numbers above as a guide for what your costs will be. Cats are always shedding, so consider how much grooming might cost depending on the coat your cat has. 

My cat will not let me touch his nails. I still try, and sometimes I can get a few nails clipped before I’ve been scratched or bitten too many times. When he goes to the groomer, they clip his nails, and sometimes my vet’s office will too.

This can cost about $10-$20 each time. Nail clippers average $5-10 from any store. If you can clip your cat’s nails in one sitting, you should repeat that about every six weeks or so. If you are like me and you cut them when you can, the process is always happening. Factor in if you will clip your cat’s nails yourself, or if that will become a job for the pros.

Budget $30 for this category and adjust based on your cat.

How Much Does Cat Surgery Cost?

Surgery costs for cats range from $140 – $10000. Costs will fluctuate based on the surgery’s extent and if your cat can come home that day. If your cat has to stay at the vet’s office, that will add to the surgery cost. 

A simple same-day surgery for something like a neuter surgery is, on average, $140—surgery averages for other standard procedures like hip dysplasia in $8000. 

Even a feline UTI can cost north of $2000 just to get the tests back, and that’s without any work actually being done to your cat yet. So in all honesty you should get pet insurance to help curb those costs. Pet insurance costs around $10 – $15 per month. 

Budget $3000 for this category and have this money in an emergency fund. 

How Much Does Cat Neutering/Spaying Cost?

This is one of the least expensive surgeries performed on a cat. The average cost in this category is $140-$300. Spay surgery for females is more expensive than neutering surgery for males.

It costs less to neuter a male because the surgery is less invasive. The surgery to spay a female is more intensive. The risks for complications also increase with a spay versus neuter. This cost may not be an issue depending on where you adopt your pet from.

The vast majority of rescues and shelters fix a cat before adoption and factor that cost into the adoption fees. The situation is different when you are dealing with a breeder.

Budget $200 for this if you adopt from a breeder or shelter/rescue that doesn’t provide the service pre-adoption.

How Much Does Cat Boarding Cost?

The national average for cat boarding is $25 per night. This number will change based on the type of facility you use and if your cat has any special needs.

Cat boarding facilities can be a larger cage in your vet’s office or a condo/private room in a pet resort. If your pet needs medicines administered, that will be an extra charge. If you know your cat would be unhappy spending time in a cage, you will need to pay more for a cat condo. Also, consider if you have to pay extra to have a member of the staff play and interact with your cat during their stay.

My cats have never enjoyed leaving the house for boarding. Instead of boarding my cat, I hire a cat sitter to come to the home and take care of my cats. The costs have been in line with what I would pay to take my cat to a boarding facility.

Budget $25 per night for the number of days you take for vacation each year. 

How Much Does A Cat’s Teeth Cleaning Cost?

The cost spent on teeth cleaning will need to meet your pet’s oral hygiene needs.  Professional cat tooth cleaning costs between $200 – $400 per cat. Some cats require yearly teeth cleanings while plenty of others are fine with tooth wipes or their owners occasionally brushing their teeth. 

Not every cat will require yearly tooth cleaning. I have never had a cat need a professional tooth cleaning in all my years of cat ownership. When my vet has spotted plaque buildup signs, I have used dental wipes or a finger toothbrush and paste to get the situation back under control. I also added dental chew treats to their diets. 

The cost of a professional tooth cleaning is roughly $400 for a cat. The price is this high because the procedure can only be done under anesthesia. Cats will barely tolerate nail clippings; they would not tolerate their teeth being polished unless they were asleep when it happened. 

For some cats, they will only need this professional cleaning a couple of times in their life. Others won’t be so lucky and will need their teeth professionally done at least once per year. The average cost is just a guide because if your vet finds additional issues during the cleaning or teeth that need to be removed, they will do it at that time. This could cause this procedure to rise to $1400 or more.

For cats that don’t need as much dental care from your vet, you can visit any pet store to find dental wipes, cat toothbrushes, and toothpaste. These supplies can start at $5 and go up to about $20.

Another cheap alternative is to simply get cat treats that do the cleaning for you. Cats can chew on these and they will grind against the teeth, cleaning away debris in the process.

Budget $400 per year for dental care for your cat. This will ensure you are prepared for all situations involving your cat’s dental health.

Is It Worth Getting A Cat?

No matter the cost, a cat is worth it. They offer companionship and love to their owners. There is no price tag that anyone can put on that. But an owner does need to be prepared for the expense and any other surprises that come with it. But if you love your cat, it will all be worth it in the end. They will repay you in so many ways.

There is no budget figure for this. Cats are priceless.

Are Cats Cheaper Than Dogs?

Yes, and the numbers aren’t even close. Research shows that it can cost $5000-$9000 more to own a dog versus a cat over their lifespans.

This has been my personal experience, as well. Dog food costs more. Their medical procedures cost more. On average, dogs consume more vet care and make more trips to emergency vet clinics.

Even their adoption fees are higher. A previous cat of mine had a urinary blockage and had to be rushed to the vet to the tune of $4000 for his stay. That same year one of my friends spent that much each time her dog went to the ER vet—which she had to do twice. Dogs are loyal friends, but they hit your wallet quite differently than cats do.  

If cats could speak, I’m sure they would tell us, “Told you dogs were terrible.” If you are debating between a cat and a dog, consider these figures. 

How Much Does It Cost Annually To Own A Cat?

The price for owning a cat fluctuates based on your cat’s age, health, and many other things. It is always smart to budget high and be happy/surprised when you don’t spend as much as you had planned.

I know some people who open up a credit card, and only things for their pets go on that card. That way, they know how much they’ve spent on their pet at any given point of the year. Other people pull their pet expenditures into a savings account just for their pet’s expenses. Regardless, make sure you are prepared.

This article advises that it can cost $4473 per year to own a cat ($373 per month). This doesn’t include any adoption fees or expenses to a breeder. It can cost far less based on your cat’s health and many other factors. Our numbers also include a week of boarding and one larger surgery each year, which isn’t the case for every animal. 

How To Reduce Your Monthly Cat Expenditures

The best advice I have for cats’ cost-cutting tips is that you don’t always have to buy the biggest and most expensive name brands for your cat. There is an excellent chance they won’t care. Don’t stop buying your cat toys (they need the stimulation), but there is no need to go overboard.

My cat has a giant box full to the brim with toys. He gets more joy out of bottle caps and hair ties. And as long as the blanket is soft, he doesn’t care if it came from Crate & Barrel or IKEA.

The same applies to their food. Do your research, but don’t think you need to feed your cat the most expensive food on the market. I had a tabby cat who was raised on Meow Mix and generic grocery store cat food. He switched to what would be considered “higher quality food” just a few years later because of urinary related health issues. The type of food you pick can be one of the most significant ways to save money with your cat.

Another way to save yourself money is to keep up with your vet checkups. That is the best way to catch a medical issue before it becomes a crisis. Cats are notorious for hiding things from us. That’s why we have to be a detective and prepare in advance.

Summarizing The Facts

The cost of owning a cat is dependent on multiple factors. Age, gender, type of food, amount of toys, etc. will increase or lower your yearly cat owner responsibilities. 

The figure we came to versus the research is quite different, but our figures account for surgeries and almost anything else one could think of. There are expenses that owners don’t consider like pet rent, pet deposits, planning for emergency care, and several others. But having a cat is a joy that you can’t put a price tag own. They make any home; they are full of love and laughter!