how much does it cost to adopt a cat

How Much Does It Cost To Adopt A Cat?

Cat adoption fees range from $0 to $200, but the financial commitment of adopting a cat is a larger investment. Between your cat’s adoption fee and the necessary basic supplies, you can expect to spend between $389 and $2,356.

Calculating the cost of adopting a cat means considering –

  • Adoption fees
  • Veterinary fees
  • Food
  • Grooming supplies
  • Preventatives
  • Toys
  • Pet Insurance
  • Miscellaneous supplies
  • Cleaning supplies

Adoption Fees

Cat adoption fees vary based on the age of the cat and from where you adopt the cat.

You can adopt a kitten, adult cat, or senior cat.

  • Kittens have the highest adoption fees.
  • Adult cat adoption fees vary wildly depending on where you adopt your cat.
  • Senior cats, pair-bonded cats, or special needs cats usually have discounted adoption fees.

Adoption fees also change depending on where you adopt your cat.

You can adopt a cat from city animal service units, local shelters, and rescue organizations.

  • City animal service units – City animal service units usually have the most affordable adoption fees, but they usually do not provide medical treatment and sometimes don’t perform behavioral evaluations either.
  • Local shelters – Local shelters vary widely in their adoption fees, but these dogs have usually received basic medical care and have been temperament evaluated.
  • Rescue organizations – Rescue organizations have higher adoption fees, but their dogs have received medical care, have been temperament evaluated, have often spent time with a foster family, and many times, they have undergone basic training.

COST: $0 – $200

Shelters offer discounts and deals on their pets throughout the year. Common promotions include:

  • Clear the shelter day/month – Shelters discount adoption fees to clear out shelters nationwide.
  • Free senior pets – Some shelters offer senior pets free of charge to qualified adopters to home hard-to-adopt pets.
  • Two for one – Bonded pairs can be hard to home, but it is unfair to split up a bonded pair of animals, so shelters offer both pets for the adoption fee of just one.

Veterinary Fees

Even if you adopt a cat that has undergone medical treatment, you need to establish a vet and take your cat for a physical exam.

Your cat’s first exam is crucial because it gives your vet a chance to get a “baseline” for your cat’s medical profile.

If you adopted a cat that has not received any medical treatment, their first vet visit is a chance to identify any illness, parasite, infection, etc. requiring treatment.

If you adopted a kitten, this first vet visit is also a chance to begin (or continue) kitten vaccinations.

If you adopted an older cat, this first visit gives your vet a chance to note any problems like arthritis so that you can work out a plan for pain and inflammation management.

No matter how old your cat is, their first veterinary visit is also a chance for you to ask questions and to pick up monthly preventative medications.

The cost of your first vet visit will vary wildly depending on your cat’s age and health but typically ranges from $100 to $300.

COST: $100 – $300

*If your cat is not spayed or neutered, expect to pay an additional $60 to $500 depending on your cat’s sex and whether you visit a low-cost clinic or a private vet.

When planning for veterinary fees, you should also consider setting aside money to cover emergency veterinary bills. According to Pet Plan insurance, the average emergency visit to the vet costs between $800 and $1,500.


Food for your cat includes:

  • Cat food – Cat food costs an average of $10-$50 a month.
  • Treats – Cat treats cost an average of $10 to $50 a month depending on the treats you buy and how generous you are with them.

COST: $20 – $100 / Month


Necessities for your cat include:

  • A collar – Collars cost anywhere from $1 on up. The average cat collar costs $9.
  • A leash and harness – Not all cats like walking on a harness and leash, but it is a good chance for them to spend time outside safely, so try it! The average cat harness and leash set costs between $2 and $30.
  • A pet license – Not all locales have requirements for cat licensing, but if your does, expect to pay $10 to $25 annually.
  • Litter box – A litter box can range anywhere from $15 to $500! The average basic litterbox costs between $15 to $18.
  • Litter mat – A cat litter mat will keep your cat from distributing litter through the house. The average cost of a littler mat is between $10 to $25.
  • Cat litter – Cat litter costs an average of $15 to $20 per month.
  • Pet carrier – A pet carrier is necessary to get your cat to the vet and to and from the car if you take them on vacation with you. The average pet carrier costs between $20 to $50.
  • Food/water bowl – Bowls cost anywhere from $3 to $200 depending on whether you get simple bowls or an ornate feeder.
  • Bed – Cat beds cost anywhere from $10 to $350 depending on the type of bed you purchase.

COST: $101 – $727

Grooming Supplies

  • Brush – No matter whether you have a longhaired or shorthaired cat, brushing is necessary. Brushing stimulates the skin to produce protective oils, it rids the coat of dust and debris, and it gives you a chance to bond with your cat. A grooming brush costs $10.
  • Pet dental kit – Brushing your cat’s teeth will prevent dental disease and conditions that dental disease contributes to, like heart disease. A feline dental kit costs between $5 to $12.
  • Nail Clippers – Keeping your cat’s claws trimmed is helpful for them and you! Nail clippers cost around $10.
  • Shampoo – A cat-friendly shampoo costs between $10 to $15.

*Vet technicians and groomers charge between $10 to $20 to trim your cat’s nails.

COST: $35 – $57


Your cat requires monthly preventatives to protect them from parasite-borne disease.

  • Heartworm Preventative – Heartworm preventative costs an average of $7 per month, but it is only available in packs of six or twelve.
  • Flea and Tick Preventative – Flea and tick preventative costs an average of $10 per month, but it is only available in packs of six or twelve.

COST: $17 / Month


There are many cat toys to choose from, and you will undoubtedly buy more as you go, but you can expect to pay around $50 for a few toys for your cat to start.

COST: $50

Pet Insurance

Pet insurance may not seem like a “must-have,” but it can wind up saving you money in the long run.

The cost of pet insurance depends on how old your cat is, whether they have any pre-existing or chronic conditions, and the type of plan you choose.

Accident-only coverage is the cheapest insurance coverage, but it only reimburses you in the event of an accident – for example, if a raccoon attacks your cat.

Accident and illness coverage is more expensive, but it offers more comprehensive coverage. For example, the insurance company will reimburse you if a raccoon attacks your cat AND if your cat develops bladder stones.

The average cost of accident-only coverage is $11 a month, and the average cost of accident and illness coverage is $30 a month.

COST: $11 – $30 / Month

Keep in mind that pet insurance does not work the same way that human health insurance works. Your cat’s insurance policy expects you to pay all bills upfront, you must then send your receipt and a claims form to the insurance company and they will reimburse you for any eligible expenses minus your plan deductible.

Miscellaneous Supplies

Other miscellaneous supplies you will need include –

  • Scratching post – a scratching post gives your cat somewhere that they can scratch so that they don’t scratch your furniture! A scratching post costs between $30 to $60.
  • Cat tree – a cat tree gives your cat a perch where they can rest and survey their “territory.” A cat tree costs between $20 to $130.

COST: $50 – $190

Cleaning Supplies

If you adopt a kitten or senior cat, you need cleaning supplies for potty accidents!

Even without potty accidents, you want to have cleaning supplies on hand for vomiting incidents.

At a bare minimum, you should invest in a carpet cleaning spot solution that costs between $5 to $15.

You should invest in a handheld carpet cleaner and carpet cleaning solution if you want to ensure that you clean and disinfect accidents thoroughly. A handheld carpet cleaner costs between $50 to $160, and a cleaning solution bundle costs around $25.

COST: $5 – 185

Conclusion / Summary

Adopting a cat is a financial commitment, and while most people prepare for the adoption fee, they often neglect to consider other factors including

  • The first veterinary visit
  • Food
  • Treats
  • A collar/leash/harness
  • A pet license
  • A litter box
  • A litter mat
  • Cat litter
  • A pet carrier
  • Food and water bowls
  • A bed
  • A brush
  • A dental kit
  • Nail clippers
  • Shampoo
  • Heartworm preventative
  • Flea and tick preventative
  • Toys
  • Pet insurance
  • A scratching post
  • A cat tree
  • Cleaning supplies

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