Pet Care Tips and Articles

Cat Adoption - Budget Worksheet

Costs of adopting a cat Part of owning a pet is the financial responsibility that comes with it. Use the worksheet below to help plan for the costs of adopting a cat. Costs will vary depending on where you live.

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Initial Costs

  • Adoption fee. Fees vary widely from place to place, but often times there are discounts for adult or senior cats, for adopting cats with special needs, or for adopting a bonded pair of cats.

  • Collar, harness, and leash. Break-away collars are safest for cats. Also be sure to get a harness specifically made for cats (not a dog harness), as cats are extremely flexible and talented escape-artists.

  • Food and water bowls. You might also consider a pet drinking fountain - many cats enjoy free-flowing water and are encouraged to drink more.

  • Bedding. This can be one of many types of cat beds, or just a comfy towel or blanket that your new cat can call her own. Lots of cats actually prefer a simple cardboard box (it's a cat thing), which can be lined with a towel or some other soft material. Of course, your cat might just decide to claim your bed as her own!

  • Vaccines. Kittens need a several sets of shots to help protect them until their immune systems are fully developed. Adult cats with no vaccine history are usually vaccinated at the shelter prior to going home with a new family. Initial vaccines are typically included in the cost of adoption when adopting from a shelter or rescue organization (another great reason to adopt, not shop!).

  • Spay/neuter surgery. This will prevent adding to the pet overpopulation problem (even if you are ableto find homes for the litter, that means there are even fewer available homes for the pets waiting at animal shelters and rescue organizations). Some shelters and pet rescue organizations include the cost of spay/neuter surgery in their adoption fee. If you cannot afford the cost of surgery, ask your local vet or SPCA about spay/neuter programs you may qualify for.

  • Identification. This can include a city license tag (if required), general ID tag, tattoo, and/or microchip. It's important for your pet to wear proper, up-to-date ID at all times, just in case she gets lost. A basic ID tag can be printed out-on-the-spot at various pet supply retailers, or even online.

  • Grooming supplies - brush or comb, nail clippers, etc.

  • Litter box and scoop. There are lots of types of litter boxes available, even self-cleaning boxes to help cut down on cleaning. As for the scoop, look for something wide and deep to make scooping easier. Metal scoops also last longer (and are easier to clean) then plastic ones.

  • Scratching post or scratcher. Cats naturally like to climb and to scratch. Look for a sturdy scratching post (many cats like to run at their posts and leap onto them)... the higher, the better! Cats love to perch up high and survey the world. Resting spots like cradles, tubes, or platforms are great. Dangling toys can add interest too.

    Cat scratchers are another great option. These 'scratcher boards' are usually flat or on an incline, and some are even 'wavy' in design. They give cats a place to exercise their natural scratching instincts, as well as a place to nap. Cats love them!

  • Kennel or crate. This will be a safe place for your cat if you have to travel or move. Some cats like to 'hide' in them and snuggle down for a sleep.

On-Going Costs

  • Cat food (dry/moist/raw/homemade). Factor in any additional costs if your cat requires prescription food.

  • Treats.

  • Toys. Many cats are content with to play with paper bags or other ordinary household items, but there are also lots of different types of toys to keep a cat's interest. For example, cats tend to love a simple cardboard scratcher ... or for cats that like paper bags, try a kitty crinkle sack instead (then you won't have to look at a bunch of shredded or ripped paper bags lying around the house!). The interactive toy called Da Bird is super-popular with cats, too, since it imitates the sound and motion of a bird in flight.

  • Annual check-up and shots. A regular visit to the vet will help to ensure your pet remains healthy and that any problems are caught early.

  • Specialized medication such as flea control (if your cat is permitted outdoors), or hairball medication.

  • Boarding or pet-sitting costs if you don't intend to take your cat when you travel.

  • Pet fees if you're traveling with your cat. Most pet-friendly hotels and accommodations charge a fee for pets traveling with their families.

  • Grooming. Some cats have higher grooming needs than others. Budget for these costs if you plan to use the services of a professional groomer.

  • Kitty litter. Lots of different types of litter are available. Many cats are fussy about the type of litter they use. Unscented litters are best since a cat's sense of smell is much better than ours, and the scented litters may be off-putting to them. The typical clumping clay litter is the most inexpensive but it also gives off a lot of dust. Check out the healther, more eco-friendly options like cat litter made from corn, wheat, wood pellets or silica.

  • Litter box liners are popular because it makes clean-up easier. You simply tie them up and discard the used litter.

Additional Costs

  • Repair or replacement of items that may be damaged by an overly-enthusiastic kitty. Cats scratch. They can be taught to scratch only "their" stuff, but until then, you may find yourself with a shredded couch, courtesy of your mischievous kitty.

  • Replacement of worn-out items. Every so often you may need to replace collars, ID tags, scratching posts, etc.

  • Unforeseen or emergency veterinary care. Our feline friends can become ill, too. Sometimes it may require nothing more than a check-up at your friendly neighbourhood vet's; other times it may require hospitalization or specialized treatment. Some pet owners choose to purchase pet insurance for peace of mind. Include in your budget annual bloodwork as well as a thorough dental cleaning every few years or as recommended by your vet.

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