A Cat Costs Only as Much as Your Annual Vacation—But Offers Year-Long Happiness

A relaxing week-long vacation or everyday companionship—you decide!

Any cat lover is too quick to gush about the scientifically-proven health benefits of owning a feline friend. Why? Because they can boost your happiness, help you de-stress and soothe anxiety, according to Healthline. Whether you’re certain being a cat lady is good for your well-being or refuse to believe a pet can improve your health, we can all agree on one thing—they’re great for companionship and helping us feel less lonely, which is a condition we all seem to be suffering from right now.

The one issue that may be holding you back from adopting a furry friend may be the cost. But owning a cat is probably not as pricey as you may think. First off, a lot of cats are free. Although adoption costs that include necessary testing and vaccination costs have the potential to add up, the price of cat adoption fees can be as low as $50. Looking for a pure-bred “designer” cat from a breeder? That could set you back thousands.

Here, a breakdown of all the costs.

How much does neutering/spaying cost?

To ensure that you don’t end up with grand-kittens, it’s important to spay or neuter a new cat. According to Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM, the cost of spaying or neutering your pet can put you back between $100 to $300. With a quick cost-benefit analysis, it’s easy to see that this procedure will cost less than raising a brand new litter of kittens or paying vet costs for a pregnant pet. 

How much is a cat chip?

Many cat owners find peace of mind in microchipping their pets, knowing that if their cat escapes, it can be identified and brought home safely. “Many shelters and rescue organizations include microchipping in the cost of their adoption fee, which can make the cost of the microchip even less than $50,” says cat behaviorist Marci Koski of tuftandpaw.com. Adoption fees may also cover the cost of spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, and other expenses. It really is more economical to adopt from a shelter and have all of those things done at once.” Some leading microchip brands charge a membership fee for their services, with one leading brand charging around $25/year. 

How much does it cost to vaccinate a cat?

When it comes to your cat’s health, an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure. “Your cat will need yearly vaccines which will run around $200 or more depending on the area you live in,” says Dr. Ochoa. “If your cat goes outside, they will need flea, tick, and heartworm prevention.” Dr. Adam Christman of Brick Town Veterinary Hospital agrees, stating “Having a cat on monthly flea and tick prevention such as Revolution-Plus helps minimize intestinal parasites (roundworms and hookworms) as well as fleas, ticks, heartworm, and ear mites,” A parasite-prevention medication such as this can cost around $60 for a six month supply, or $120 per year. 

indoor or outdoor cat
Photo Credit: Pexels

Are indoor cats more or less expensive than outdoor cats?

The life of a wayfaring outdoor cat seems enticing and adventurous, but all adventures have their risks. Dr. Christman wants cat owners to know that their outdoor pets are more prone to injuries and infections. “The most common cat injuries I see in practice include abscesses, puncture wounds, fractured limbs, and dental disease,” says Christman. Because of the unpredictable nature of the wild, wandering cats are in far greater danger than cats who live inside. They can even have traumatic experiences with “catfights, fights with other animals, being hit by cars, toxicity, and infectious diseases,” Christman notes. “These injuries are relatively inexpensive.  However, if fractures are involved or anything requiring surgery is warranted, then the cost to repair their furbabies can be easily over $1,000.” 

How much does a cat carrier cost? 

Since cats are natural wanderers, it doesn’t seem fair that an indoor cat should be stuck inside all day without a chance to see the world. It may look silly, but walking a cat on a leash can be beneficial to a cat’s happiness, according to feline behaviorist Koski, who believes that using a harness with an indoor cat can provide a “fun and safe opportunity for enrichment that both cat and human can enjoy together.” If this activity isn’t right for your pet, owners might consider a fun cat backpack or a traditional cat carrier for $30 

How much does it cost to feed a cat? 

It depends. A healthy feline diet supplies the necessary nutrients, amino acids, and vitamins that will keep your pet in tip-top shape. The ASPCA estimates the yearly cost of feeding a cat to be $224, but the price of cat food will vary greatly between each cat owner. Pet parents are increasingly likely to feed their animals as they would themselves, whether it’s on the less expensive side, or from brands that use organic ingredients Regardless of these variables, one thing is for sure: cats need meat. As obligate carnivores, they need to eat meat to survive and don’t derive much nutrition from vegetables and grains. In general, buying from pet food brands with a long company history and nutritionists on staff is the safest bet for your pet. 

How much is a vet visit?

The price of a cat’s healthcare will vary in each individual pet, due to factors such as breed, genetic predispositions to disease, and even whether your cat is an indoor or outdoor pet. If you adopt a purebred cat, you can expect some added medical costs along with them. Veterinarian Dr. Adam Christman notes that some breeds of cat are more prone to health issues. “It’s always advisable to consult with your veterinarian first before purchasing a purebred cat.  Do your homework and research so you know what you may be getting yourself into both financially and emotionally.” In 2018, The Humane Society estimated the yearly cost of feline veterinary care to be around $900. (Also, learn if it’s possible for your pet to catch the flu from you!)

cat cost
Photo Credit: Pexels

How much does cat litter cost? 

Litter boxes are probably the most necessary cat accessory, and their purchase price is usually between $20 and $30. On most merchandising sites, 40 pounds of cat litter costs about $25 and will have to be purchased four times per year with typical usage. 

How much does it cost to keep a cat happy?

Once your cat is safe and healthy, you can spend on the fun stuff. Koski recommends scratching posts because they “allow a full-body stretch to help cats stretch and condition back muscles.” Dr. Ochoa recommends a hammock and a scratcher. Ochoa also likes to feed her cat Greenies Treatswhich are good for preventing tartar and will run you $10 for a large box. According to the American Pet Products Association, cat owners spend about $60 per year on treats.   

Add it all up: What’s the annual cost of owning a cat?

It’ll be around $1800 in the first year, with an added initial price for more expensive cats, or possible medical emergencies. That price is probably lower than the price tag of your annual vacation (especially a European adventure). Plus, a feline friend is likely to provide more happiness than a seven-day escape. Of course, owning a cat is not just a financial responsibility, so it’s important to think about the commitment you’re making before you adopt your wise, playful companion.

Next, learn why owning a dog is good for kids.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest