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What is the cost of owning a cat?

white cat with ginger spots putting coin inside piggy bank

With both yearly and one-off costs, owning a cat could be more expensive than you think

© THASSANEE KHAENGRIT - Shutterstock

To make sure you’re giving your cat the best life possible, you need to be able to provide for them. And it’s not as cheap as you might think. 

By Justine Seraphin

Updated on the

So you’re thinking of getting a cat. Cats make wonderful companions and it’s true that they aren’t as high maintenance or expensive as dogs.

However, to meet their welfare needs, cats need a balanced diet, regular trips to the vet, and lots of things to keep them mentally and physically active. Plus, cats tend to live longer than dogs, so before adopting one, you need to work out whether you’ll be able to cover this cost throughout their lives. Here’s how much you’re looking at spending if you get a cat:

How much does it cost monthly to own a cat?

Owning a cat will cost you between £25 and £75 a month. Here are some of the costs you’ll have to cover monthly:

Cat food: £13 - £55 per month

An average cat will require around 20g of dry cat food or two pouches of wet cat food a day. However, the amount of food your cat needs will vary significantly depending on their size, how active they are, and what type of food you feed them. 

High quality cat food brands tend to cost more, but in the long run, they really contribute to your pet’s well-being and longevity.

Remember, if your cat is suffering from an illness such as obesity, renal problems, or allergies, for example, they may need a specific type of food. These tend to be a lot more expensive than any generic cat food you would buy off the shelf.

Cat litter: £2 - £9 per month

A litter box is a requirement if you own a cat, even if they have access to the outdoors. Cats like to do their business in quiet, private areas, and especially like to cover it up afterwards. That’s why they love using litter boxes!

You should be cleaning your cat’s litter box every day, which means you’ll have to buy litter frequently. Much like cat food brands, brands of litter vary significantly. High-quality or even environmentally-friendly litter will cost more than the litter you find at the supermarket.

Also keep in mind that cats are picky creatures. If they don’t like the feel or smell of their litter, you may have to go through several different brands until you find the one that suits them best.

Flea and worm medication: £10 per month 

This is essential to your cat’s health, especially if they have access to the outdoors. As a preventive measure, you should be giving your cat some sort of flea treatment once a month and a worm treatment once every 3 months. Ask your vet for recommendations about what kind of treatments would suit your cat best.

How much does it cost annually to own a cat?

Owning a cat will cost you around £1,000 a year. Here are some of the costs you’ll have to cover yearly:

Vaccinations: £120 per year

Your cat will need vaccination boosters all throughout their life, even if they are mostly an indoor cat. You’ll be required to go to the vets once or twice a year to get them done. These trips to the vet are also a perfect opportunity for a general health check-up, which is a very important part of preventive health. 

Pet insurance: £125 per year

Cat insurance could save you thousands of pounds if your cat ever gets sick or injured. Generally, the more you pay for your insurance, the more treatments they will cover.

Pet sitting: £140 per year

When you go on vacation, you may decide to leave your pet with a professional. If you go for a cattery or a cat hotel, you may be looking at higher expenses. Getting a cat sitter to visit your home might cost less, but it’s up to you to decide what you’d feel more comfortable with.

One-off and occasional expenses

On top of your cat’s yearly costs, you’ll need to add some one-off and occasional expenses to your budget. You’ll only have to cover these a few times in your cat’s lifetime, but they tend to be the highest expenses of all!

Purebred kitten or rescue cat: £85 - £5,000

The cost of a cat varies hugely depending on what type of cat you get and where you get it from. If you decide to go with a purebred cat from a breeder, you’ll most likely be looking at costs between £500 and £2,000. However, if you’re looking for a more exotic or popular breed, such as a Bengal, for example, you could be looking at prices of up to £5,000! 

Getting a cat from a shelter is a lot cheaper. You will probably have to pay a donation fee, but these tend to be anywhere between £85 and £150 only. Plus, your cat will have already been neutered and microchipped, and all their vaccinations will be up to date.

Equipment: £130

When you first get a cat, you’ll have to buy all the essentials: Food and water bowls, a bed, a litter box, toys, a cat flap, a cat tree, and a scratching post, for example. You’ll probably only have to get these once or twice in your cat’s lifetime. 

Microchipping: £20 - £30

Microchipping cats will soon be required by law in the UK. Microchips last a lifetime, although the information on your pet’s may have to be updated if your home address changes, for example.

Neutering: £50 - £100

Legally, you don’t have to neuter your cat, but it is highly recommended. Cats left to their own devices can cause the birth of hundreds of kittens in just a year. Plus, neutering can prevent many illnesses such as womb cancers.

Emergency vet visits and medical costs: £60 and above

If your cat falls ill or suffers from an injury, you may have to take them for an unexpected vet visit. Most vets charge around £60 for a check-up. But what if your vet discovers that your cat suffers from kidney failure? They may prescribe long-term medications which could cost you anywhere between £70 and £400 a month. What if your cat has broken a limb and needs a CT scan? This could cost anywhere from £600 - £800! That’s why you’d do best in getting pet insurance. But in any case, you need to be prepared for these potential costs.

Euthanasia and cremation: £70 - £260

As your cat gets older, they may develop painful age-related problems. If this is the case, it may be more humane to put your pet to sleep. This will cost around £30 in a vet clinic, but if you would prefer a home visit so that your cat feels safer, you will have to pay around £60. Similarly, a generic cremation will only cost around £70. However, if you would like your cat to be cremated individually, and to have their ashes returned to you afterwards, cremation could cost you up to £200. 

With all these costs added up over the 12 to 18 years of your cat’s life, you’ll be looking at a budget of between £12,000 and £25,000 total. Make sure this is something you’re ready to commit to before you bring your cat home!

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