What it costs to own a pet cat

·4-min read

From companionship to the sound of a reassuring purr, there are many advantages to owning a cat. But before heading out with a cat basket to get one, it’s worth considering the cost. Even the average moggie can set back its owners thousands of pounds over the course of a lifetime.

What are the financial costs of owning a cat?

Unless you go for a rare breed, probably not as much as owning a dog. That’s the good news. On the flip side, the costs can mount up.

There may be a purchase fee, plus vets’ bills, microchipping, jabs and you might have to pay to get a cat-flap fitted to your back door. Then there’s all that feeding you’ll need to do and don’t forget the cat litter. None of these commitments need to break the bank, but they all contribute to the bill and, as such, require consideration.

Where do you get cats from and how much do they cost?

You can buy cats from registered breeders. Look to the governing bodies and organisations such as The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, The International Cat Association and Felis Britannica. A responsible breeder should keep a kitten in rude health and make sure it’s not separated from its mum for at least eight weeks. Be wary of unscrupulous sellers. A ban on third party sales of puppies and kittens, known as Lucy’s Law, came into force last year.

A kitten might set you back around £150, but breeds such as Russian Blue, Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest can be 10 times the price. Exotic breeds such as the Bengal, Savannah and Ashera can run into five-figure sums.

The cheaper alternative is to adopt. Cat rescue homes are overflowing in the UK and welcome responsible cat owners. They will ask for a donation, but the bonus is that your chosen cat is likely already to be neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. Plus, you have the warm, fuzzy feeling of giving it a loving new home.

What are the initial costs to consider?

Costs include having your cat microchipped, vaccinated and neutered, and you’ll need a few necessities such as a cat bed/basket, food and water bowl, litter tray and a cat carrier. If you don’t want claws ripping up the furniture, a scratching post can also be a handy investment, as can a brush or comb for grooming and even a few kitten toys. All in all, animal charity PDSA estimates these initial costs will set you back around £250.

If you need a cat flap, you may be able to grab a standard one for as little as £10, but expect to fork out £50 or more for one with microchip sensors. Installation will likely double your costs, ranging from £30-£60 if it’s being fitted into a wooden door, but up to £300 for modifying a double-glazed pane.

What are the ongoing costs of owning a cat?

After the initial set-up there are regular costs to consider. These include annual health checks and booster vaccinations, worming and flea treatments, cat food and litter. If you go away, you’ll need to also consider the cost of a pet-sitter or cattery at around £10 per day.

PDSA estimates it costs around £70 per month to look after a cat, but vets costs or a specialist diet could push this up considerably. In the case of the former, you may also want to consider cat insurance.

What is cat insurance and how much does it cost?

Cat insurance can save you a hefty vet’s bill if illness or injury strikes. Pedigree cats are more susceptible to congenital diseases and hereditary conditions, but there is the risk of loss or theft to factor in as well.

While bills vary, a respiratory issue could cost £480 and removal of a tumour around £600. The average pet insurance claim cost £817 in 2020, according to the latest figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

Different types of insurance are available ranging from accident-only to annual and lifetime cover. Accident-only cover is the cheapest, although according to consumer group Which?, 70 per cent of all pet insurance claims are for illness, not accidents.

The ABI puts the average annual premium for pet insurance at £271, but cat insurance can start at around £80 a year. It’s worth noting what’s covered, though. For example, insurance doesn’t typically cover regular treatments such as vaccinations, worming, flea treatment and neutering.

How much will you spend on your cat over its lifetime?

One final cost to factor in is what happens when your beloved feline companion passes away.

The cost of cat cremations varies, but if you want the ashes returned after a private ceremony it will be more expensive. Costs range £50 to £300 according to the Money Advice Service. Your vet should be able to help with arrangements.

Totting it all up, Battersea Cats & Dogs Home estimates it costs around £1,000 a year to own a cat. What’s more, a cat typically lives for around 18 years. So that’s £18,000 worth of feline support to find, set off against plenty of fun and loving memories. Owning a cat will hopefully be worth every penny.