How much does it cost to own a cat?

Okay, I’m slightly obsessed with my cat (for evidence check out my About page and Instagram feed). A coworker, after seeing a Chance-centric InstaStory, asked how much it cost to own a cat — and thinking through the breakdown, I wonder how much more would be in our wedding savings account without him (just kidding!). But for prospective cat owners, here’s a summary of my cat costs.

Adoption fees and home set up

We adopted Chance at the ASPCA in the Upper East Side. I tend to use the phrase “like trying to get a license at the DMV” when describing the experience. Packed waiting room, forms to fill out, lots of waiting, form assessment and finally… cats!

Since Chance was listed as 3 years old, his adoption fee was $0. Yes, that’s right. You pay for kittens but they essentially give away the older cats. However, because we didn’t come prepared with a carrier, so we rented a plastic carrier from the ASPCA for $36.

At home, we set him up with a litter box ($16), food and water bowls ($12), a self-groomer (best $5 ever spent), some toys ($10) and even splurged on a scratcher lounger ($50).

Chance the Cat on a scratcher lounge
Chance the Cat on his scratcher lounge

Pet insurance

I’m writing this post chronologically otherwise pet insurance would be topic #1. Because pet insurance is very important. VERY. IMPORTANT.

Hospitalized for three days!

I chose ASPCA Pet Insurance (branded ASPCA but underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company) and went with a plan that covered both accidents and illnesses, and 90% of costs after a $250 deductible. All in all, the pet insurance for Chance the Cat cost $367.44 for the year.

…which turned out to be invaluable when, a month later, Chance needed to be rushed to the vet. Long story short, he had to be hospitalized for three days following a procedure to remove a urinary blockage. The vet bill came out to $2,150, which I first paid out of pocket then filed as a claim to the insurance company. Cue sticker shock and panic. Thankfully, a month later, my account was credited with $1,700 from the insurance company!

Everyday life

The day-to-day costs of cat ownership are very manageable, especially when compared to dog ownership in NYC (walkers, day care etc). Chance is happily an indoor cat with free reign of the apartment while at work and takes care of his business in a litter box. My subscription for his specialty canned food (required because of his urinary issue) and monthly supply of litter is $54.99.

Chance the Cat
Just hanging out on my bed

The most expensive part of cat ownership (other than medical bills) would be cat sitters to take care of Chance while Matt and I go on vacation. Luckily, I have the most incredible, cat-loving coworkers a gal could ask for. Rather than the $30 per day to have someone pass by the apartment to feed Chance, scoop his litter and play with him, my coworkers have filled the role in exchange for wine and Amazon gift cards.

Adding it all up

To simplify all of the above:

  • Adoption fee: $0
  • Renting a carrier to take him home: $36
  • Basics to set him up in the apartment: ~$150 (including food and litter)
  • One year of pet insurance: $367.44
  • Out of pocket costs for sickness/hospitalization: $450
  • Food and litter: $54.99 (every month)

It’s weird to put all the numbers together, because at the end of the day, can you really put a price on the joy and companionship a pet brings into your life? Chance is not only the star of my Instagram Stories, but he’s my cuddle buddy while binging Netflix and our third roommate/practice for future children.

How does your pet experience add up?
Let me know in the comments!

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