It is a privilege to be able to house and love a cat, but with that comes a lot of financial responsibility as you step up to be their caretaker. Along with love and cuddles, you’ll need to create a safe and warm environment for them, provide them with nutritious food, entertain them, and stay on top of their health care. Many people don’t realize how expensive owning a cat can be, and although they’re a more affordable option than a dog, costs can rack up quickly and unexpectedly.
In this article, we’ll break down the one-time costs as well as the monthly expenses you can expect to have with owning a cat in the UK. Remember that each person’s costs will be slightly different depending on their budget, cat breed, and where they live in the UK, so the figures below are an estimation but may be higher or lower for you.
Bringing Home a New Cat: One-Time Costs
Don’t be fooled; there are many hidden costs to owning a cat, and even a free cat comes with expenses. Whether you’ve been gifted one for free, decide to adopt a cat who needs a home, or purchase a specific purebred kitten from a breeder, each category comes with financial advantages and disadvantages.
And of course, whichever category you fall under, you’ll need to stock up on the basics, from cat food to a collar and an ID tag. But you may save on a few costs if you’ve already got a cat and have a few of the necessities already.
If you’ve been gifted with a new kitten or have taken on the responsibility of someone else’s cat for whatever reason, you’ll be saving quite a bit of money and skipping adoption fees and the cost of a kitten from a breeder. However, you’ll have to deal with certain vet bills that you wouldn’t need to cover if you got your cat from a shelter or breeder, as they generally sort them out themselves before you get your cat.
You’ll need to take your kitten for their health and dental checkups, microchipping, vaccinations, flea and tick treatment, and you’ll have to get them spayed or neutered.
Although you may not be able to adopt a young kitten of a specific breed from a shelter, you are going to spend less than you would with a breeder. Although many people think that adopting a cat from a shelter is free, it typically is not because they have to cover the costs that your cat has accumulated—to some degree anyway.
Many shelters will vaccinate and spay or neuter the cats that come into their care, and when you adopt your furry friend, the donation fee covers a small portion of their vet bills, saving you money.
Buying your cat from a breeder is the most expensive way to get a kitten, but it comes with a guarantee that you’re getting what you’ve paid for, with fewer genetic conditions to worry about if the breeders you’re working with are reputable and trustworthy. The breed of cat, how popular they are, and how widely available they are, determines the cost of the kitten you’ve chosen, with pedigree kittens costing anywhere from $245 to over $2450.
Although breeders are more costly, you get the assurance that your kitten is the breed and temperament that you want, and you get to meet their parents and see their health background. You’re also able to get a lot more information on how to best care for your type of cat and the possible health issues you should look out for.
Initial Setup and Supplies
Proving your cat with a loving home and all the items they need to thrive is of utmost importance. However, you don’t need to splurge and order everything you see online if it doesn’t fit into your budget. Remember that if you’re a first-time cat owner, there are going to be many one-time costs, such as a cat brush or nail clipper, and these small items can add up quickly and become quite pricey.
There are certain items that you could consider spending a bit more money on to ensure that they’re of higher quality to last for years to come, such as a cat tree. There will also be other items that you can find the cheapest options for because they’re not as important and will probably break or go missing within a few months anyway, such as cat toys.
List of Cat Care Supplies and Costs
|ID Tag and Collar:||$13–$30|
|Nail Clipper (optional):||$6–$30|
|Food and Water Bowls:||$17–$30|
How Much Does a Cat Cost Per Month?
Once you’ve ticked the one-time costs off your lists, you’re still not done paying out. Depending on the breed, cats are generally pretty easy to take care of and don’t require as much effort as dogs do. However, they have monthly needs that need to be met that you’ll need to stay on top of. Some of these monthly expenses will be cat food, cat litter, flea and tick treatments, pet insurance, and occasional pet sitting.
We know that the well-being of your cat is your highest priority. When it comes to keeping them healthy nutritionally, there should be no shortcuts to save a few pennies here and there. Your cat requires high-quality and complete cat food, regular vet checkups, and a good insurance plan to cover them when emergencies or illness occurs.
However, you can save in other areas and groom your cat yourself instead of taking them to the groomer, for example. This will grow your bond and keep your expenses low.
It’s important to feed your cat the right food and the right portion sizes to provide them with the nutrients they need. There is a wide variety of high-quality cat food to choose from with a wide price range. You can decide which option works with your budget, but we recommend spending a bit more on premium cat food as it affects them directly. You can always save some money in a different department.
If your cat has health problems and requires a specialized diet, you’re going to pay a higher price for their food. Different types of cat diets will also affect the price of their food as raw diet alternatives, such as freeze-dried or air-dried cat food, is likely to cost more than standard cat food.
If you’re unable to wash your cat, trim their nails, and keep them well maintained, you can take them to your local groomer. The size of your cat, their coat length, and where you live are factors that can push up or lower the price.
However, grooming is important for your cat’s health as a matted coat is uncomfortable for them and makes grooming themselves more difficult. It can also lead to your cat coughing up hairballs. It also reduces the amount of hair and dander around your house, which is necessary for those with allergies. Keeping their nails short will prevent them from growing into their foot pad or getting stuck on fabrics. Both of which can cause injury to your cat.
Medications and Vet Visits
Many pet insurance companies don’t cover flea and tick treatments, deworming, and vaccinations as they fall under routine preventative care. Although your cat is unlikely to require a vet visit once a month, they probably will need to be checked every now and then and receive booster shots as well as flea and tick treatment.
If your cat has a health condition, you’ll be seeing your vet much more frequently, and if they’re not covered by pet insurance, you’ll have to pay out a lot of money for their monthly treatment and medication.
If you have a purebred cat, research which illnesses and disorders their breed is prone to and either save up for the potential health care they may need or take out pet insurance to prevent debt or lack of treatment.
Taking out pet insurance to cover your cat is one of the best things you can do for them–and you. If your cat suddenly needs surgery or long-term treatment and you don’t have the hundreds or even thousands of dollars to cover it, it can result in a very dire situation. A good plan often has many benefits, such as paying for chronic and sudden illness, surgery, testing, cancer, physical therapy, and end-of-life care.
If paying a high premium for your cat every month is too much of an expense, consider an accident-only plan which will pay out if your cat is ever injured in an accident. There are often different types of plans to choose from, so read through each and determine which one is best suitable for you. The age of your cat, their breed, their health, and where you live are factors that will affect the cost of your plan.
Most cats need to be cleaned up after. Not because they’re particularly messy, but because they poop and urinate in their litter box. If it’s not cleaned out, your house will start to stink, and it’s unhygienic for your cat.
The cost of the litter box is a one-time expense because it should last you for years, but you’ll need to purchase new litter box liners and deodorizing granules often because they’re discarded and replaced every few days.
|Litter box liners:||$8/month|
|Deodorizing spray or granules:||$15/month|
Cats are curious, and if they’re left at home alone while you’re at work, they can quickly get up to mischief out of boredom. If they aren’t swinging from your curtains, they may be over-eating, so keeping them stimulated is important.
Some easy solutions that exercise their brains and keep them entertained are puzzle feeders and scratching posts. You could also consider a monthly cat subscription box that sends new toys to keep your cat interested, as well as treats.
Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Cat
Owning a cat is a long financial commitment but one that is so worth it. Remember that you don’t have to buy the most expensive cat supplies for your cat to be happy. It’s more important to invest in their food and pet insurance than to have them professionally groomed every month, with new toys being sent to them via subscription boxes bi-monthly.
If you’re worried about how you’re going to afford the cat you’ve taken in, there are many ways to save on costs. However, if you have the means, don’t feel as though you can’t spoil your cat. They are your furry baby, after all, so give them the best that you can.
Additional Costs to Factor In
Everyone goes on holiday every now and then and sometimes it’s not possible to take your cat with you. In these cases, additional costs to your monthly costs will occur because you’re going to have to pay for a pet sitter to feed, play with, and look after your cat when you’re away.
Some owners who work long hours away from their homes prefer to have a pet sitter come to their house to spend time with their cats for an hour each day to check on them, play with them, and fill their water bowls. This gives your cat some entertainment during the day, and then when you get back home at night, you’re able to entertain them further.
Other costs that may arise are emergency treatments when your cat gets sick or replacing/paying for damage caused by your cat. This could be replacing a vase that your cat knocked over while brushing up against it.
Owning a Cat on a Budget
You could be surprised at how high the cost of owning a cat in the UK is. Thankfully, there are many ways to care for a cat, even on a tight budget. Many people take in stray or abandoned cats to give them a better life and don’t have a lot of money to give them the best of everything.
High-quality cat food can be quite pricey, but it’s worth the money. Your cat needs good nutrition to thrive, and without it, you’ll be taking them to the vet more often. It’s important to portion their food correctly because it’ll last longer and keep your cat at a healthy weight.
Instead of fancy supplies like sensor litter boxes, go back to the basics and get a simple tray and poop scooper—it’ll save you around $30. You can also make toys for your cat and use a cardboard box as a scratcher.
Always be on the hunt for discounts, and don’t be shy to compare prices and choose the one that is the best value for money. This is true for groomers, vets, and pet insurance companies.
Saving Money on Cat Care
Instead of paying a pet sitter when you’re away, ask your friends or family to stay at your house to look after your cat. You can also avoid grooming costs if you wash and groom your cat yourself, but make sure you know how to trim their nails to avoid injury.
Although it may be hard to believe, getting pet insurance is another way to save money as vet bills add up and will cost much more than your monthly premium.
Before rushing out to purchase a cat, you should be aware of all the costs that often get overlooked. A few one-time costs will include your new kitten, their vaccinations, microchipping, and all the basics that they will need, such as a bed, bowls, a collar, ID tag, etc. After all that is covered, you’ll have to work out their monthly expenses, which can be anywhere from $90 to $150 in the UK.
There are many factors that can affect your monthly expenses. Firstly, where you live in the UK plays a huge role, with London being one of the most expensive areas to own a cat because the cost of living is so much higher. Your cat’s breed, gender, and age are a few other factors that can affect grooming expenses and pet care premiums.
Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock