How Much Does a Cat Cost? What You Need To Know

Three Minutes
Nov 20, 2022

Thinking of bringing home a new feline friend? Cat owners typically spend more than $1,000 on their kitties. Bringing a cat into the house is always a joy, but there are many costs associated with them. So before you adopt a cat, make sure you’ve budgeted for all the essentials. This way you can keep them well-fed, healthy, and happy.

Just how much do cats cost? Let’s break down the costs of adopting a cat, medical expenses, and the essentials.

How Expensive Are Cats?

The cost of a cat can vary based on two major factors: the age of the cat and where you adopt from. If you’re considering adopting from a shelter, it will be cheaper. Buying a cat from a breeder can be significantly more expensive.

Cost per year

The average yearly cost to care for a cat is around $1,150 according to the ASPCA.3 However, this cost can vary depending on your cat’s breed, age, and specific health needs.

Cost of adopting a cat from a shelter

How much does it cost to adopt a cat? According to Petfinder, adopting a cat from a shelter or rescue can cost up to $200, but sometimes you can adopt a furry friend for free.4 Generally, adoption fees are dependent on if they’re a senior cat or kitten. However, some places offer promotions throughout the year to encourage adoption, so keep your eyes peeled for discounts and other offers.

Many shelters also vaccinate, spay, and neuter cats before putting them up for adoption, so you may not have to worry about those kitten costs upfront.

Cost of buying a cat from a breeder

If you’re looking for a specific cat breed or a purebred kitten, then you may be considering buying a cat from a breeder. Purebred kittens are expensive, especially from reputable breeders. According to All About Cats, purebred cats usually range from $500 – $1,000, but some breeds can cost more.5

Many breeders won’t spay, neuter, or vaccinate their kittens before you take them home, so make sure you talk to the breeder regarding those procedures and budget accordingly.

Breaking Down the Costs of Owning a Cat

The first year of owning a cat is usually the most expensive; there’s a lot of upfront costs to consider. Between the cost of the actual cat, medical expenses, cat supplies, and random fees, you’ll definitely want to make a budget. Let’s start with the upfront costs (after actually getting the cat).

Food and treats

Feeding your cat tends to be the highest ongoing expense. Cat food costs an average of $225 a year, and cat owners also spend an average of $36 on cat treats.3

However, these numbers can vary depending on your cat’s dietary needs, their size, and what type of food you choose. Wet food is more expensive than dry food, but can also offer more nutritional value. Wet food is also more appealing to some pickier cats.

If you’re looking to save money on cat supplies, don’t cut your food budget. It’s important to buy reputable cat food brands that provide proper nutrition to help keep your cat happy and healthy.

Litter box

You’ll need to get a litter box for your cat and can typically find one for about $20, while the litter itself costs about $150 a year.3 You can usually buy it in bulk to save money.

Kitty essentials

Cats need more than just food and litter though, and those small expenses add up. They need entertainment, scratching deterrents, a collar, and other accessories. Here’s a list to get you started.

  • Cat toys
  • Scratching post
  • Cat carrier
  • Food and water bowls
  • Collar
  • ID tag
  • Grooming supplies


Feline healthcare falls under five categories: initial costs, routine appointments, preventative care, dental, and unexpected costs. Initial healthcare may be partially or wholly covered by the shelter you go through, while unexpected medical care expenses are just that: unexpected. The other types of healthcare are annual costs for keeping your cat healthy and safe.

Initial medical costs

When you first bring a cat home you’ll want to make sure it gets spayed or neutered. This procedure costs about $150. You’ll also need to cover core vaccinations, which are around $175.3 These costs may be built into the adoption fee. Again, these prices vary depending on several factors such as the age of the cat and where you are adopting them, so be sure to do a little research to make sure you are budgeting accordingly.

Routine appointments

Routine appointments include vaccinations and annual checkups, which average around $160 a year.3   

Preventative medications

Protecting your new cat against heartworm, fleas, and ticks is important. It not only makes your cat more comfortable but prevents other health issues from occurring due to those parasites. Preventative programs among all three are usually about $140.3

Dental care

Cats need an annual teeth cleaning to prevent bacteria and plaque from building up. Cat teeth cleanings cost about $190. This may seem high, but cats are prone to cavities, diseases, and periodontitis, all of which come from poor oral hygiene.

Unexpected costs

Life is unpredictable and your cat’s health is no exception. Emergency veterinary care can be costly. Depending on what’s wrong, the price of diagnostics, treatment, and hospitalization can cost thousands of dollars.

How Cat Insurance Can Help

As you may have noticed, cats are prone to many different health conditions. Thankfully, cat insurance can help cover the costs of diagnosis, treatment, and hospitalization.2 This way you can care for your feline family member for years to come.

Get started today with a free quote from MetLife Pet Insurance, winner of the “Pet Insurance of the Year” Award in the 2023 Pet Independent Innovation Awards Program.1

Protect your Cat

Coverage in 3 Easy Steps

Dr. Hunter Finn is an integrative veterinary expert first, and social media star second. America’s favorite veterinarian owns Pet Method in McKinney, Texas, where he cares for pets while prioritizing their emotional well-being. When he’s not at his clinic, he’s starring in viral videos on TikTok (2 million followers) and Instagram (500K followers) — where he’s been known to snuggle puppies and conquer the latest dance trends.

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal, or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3 “Cutting Pet Care Costs,” ASPCA

4 “How Much Does a Cat or Kitten Cost?,” Petfinder

5 “How Much Does It Cost To Own A Cat In 2022,” All About Cats

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