How to cut the costs of owning a cat?

Summer from LA asked us:

“Hello, Claudine! I’ve stumbled upon your story about DNA testing on Catster and it led me to CatPet Magazine. Since that time, I’m your big fan!

Thank you very much for helping others in plain English!

I don’t own a cat. My mother says that owning a cat is a huge financial responsibility. She says that I’m not ready for this. Could you please share the estimated costs for owning a cat? How these can be cut? This will help me to stop asking myself “Can I afford a cat?”
Thanks!”

I forwarded this one to our consultant Claudine Sievert, DVM.

Claudine Sievert, DVM answers:

Hello Summer! Thank you for the kind words!

The basic cost of a cat starts from 450-500 dollars for the first year and each year following. However, inefficient spendings can easily make it 5000 dollars a year.

There’s a number of counterintuitive ways to save on cat/dog expenses I’d like to share.

6 Ways to cut cat-related costs

1. Consider adopting from shelter.

Adopting from a shelter is a perfect way to save money while saving someone’s life. Paying the initial adoption fee of 50-150 dollars you will get a number of costly procedures for free: spay/neuter surgery (50-300 dollars), medical examination(100-200 dollars), vaccinations (50-100 dollars), and microchipping(50-100 dollars). Not only adopting a cat or dog from the shelter will save you 200-550 dollars but it’s also proven to have positive impacts on your mental health.

2. Shift from treatment to prevention.

Regular vet appointments and timely vaccinations will help you to stay on top of your pet’s health and cure the diseases in early stages. The average cost of an emergency vet visit is 1000 dollars and some of the complex emergency surgeries may cost up to 5000 dollars. The preventive approach will help you to avoid both your pet’s health complications and contingencies. And if your cat is prone to several health conditions, you can actually save by purchasing health insurance for your cat.

3. Save on pet accessories and toys.

A simple steel bowl for 5 dollars may be more convenient for your cat than a drinking fountain for 300 dollars. And a fully automatic litter box for 1500 dollars may frighten your cat. My cat’s favorite toy is one that I made myself with a piece of foil and a string. Also, there’s a myriad of cat toys that don’t cost a fortune. You can save thousands by purchasing the most basic accessories and making your own toys.

4. Groom your pet at home.

Visiting the grooming center once a month will result in spending 500-600 dollars a year. Instead, you can purchase a simple brush and shampoo for 30 dollars. Also, numerous grooming centers offer a DIY pet wash for a fraction of a regular price. You can go further and research the new pet grooming businesses in your town that offer a discount for a first-time customer.

5. Buy food in bulk.

An adult cat food is one of the largest ongoing expenses of caring for a cat. You should always purchase a bigger bag of food. For example, a 4lb bag of Blue Buffalo costs 24 dollars while a 22lb bag costs 85 dollars. So, by buying a larger bag you will save 33%.

6. Ask your friends and relatives to babysit your pet

I always ask my friend Lara to babysit my cat when I’m away. She is a frequent guest at my house and my pets are used to her so it’s a win-win.


Thank you for reading this! We wish your pets to be healthy and happy! Click here to ask your own question.

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