We wouldn’t be without them but have you ever really thought about just how much it costs to keep your cat? For many of us, the decision to own a cat or to add an additional cat to our household is driven by our love for the species and the desire to share our home with these amazing animals. Although cost should always be a consideration before acquiring a cat, this is often under-estimated or even overlooked, and can be a high contributor to cats ending up in rehoming centres. Here we look at the cost implications of cat ownership.
Getting a cat is always an exciting time but it is important to spend time considering the costs associated with the lifetime care of a cat. It has been estimated that the most basic care costs to meet a cat’s fundamental welfare needs are a minimum of 12,000 UK pounds but can be as much as 24,000 UK pounds if you chose to spend a little more on aspects of care or if your cat lives longer than average (source: pdsa.org.uk, 2019).
Costs are associated with the following:
- Purchase – there is often a cost incurred with acquiring a cat, whether it is a smaller cost as a donation to a welfare charity or a larger cost in the purchase of a pedigree.
- Veterinary bills – as well as microchipping, neutering and preventative health costs (eg, vaccinations, parasite medication, health checks), most cats require other veterinary treatment during their lives which can be expensive.
- Insurance – to help cover the costs of veterinary treatment, many owners take out insurance to help. However, such insurance does not usually cover preventative health care and generally requires a fixed price (known as an excess) to be paid for some insurance claims, and in some cases, a proportion of the total cost.
- Resources – cats need lots of resources. These comprise sleeping, resting and hiding places, bedding, scratching places, toileting places (including cat litter if indoors), food, food dishes, water dishes, grooming brush, toys and cat carrier. While the price of such items varies hugely and many can be free (for example, a cardboard box with an old blanket or towel costs nothing as a bed), there is some expense involved. With such items, the more expensive does not always equate to the best the product for the cat. It is important to pick resources that meet the cat’s needs, for example, a cat is much more likely to prefer a large plastic litter tray that can be bought in many countries as the same price it would cost to buy a coffee a day for a week than a technically sophisticated self-cleaning litter tray priced similarly to several months’ worth of daily coffees!
- Additional care – if you leave your home for longer than a day, then you need to consider care for your cat. Boarding catteries, pet hotels and cat sitters will all look after your cat and its needs but at a cost.