How Much Does It Cost To Care For A Cat?

Two stories published in recent days give wildly varying estimates of how much it costs for the privilege of serving a cat.

First we should note that both reports assume the cats are adopted in kittenhood and the average lifespan of a cat is 15 years. That’s in line with current data showing well cared-for, indoor-only cats live between 12 and 18 years, with outliers on both ends. It’s not uncommon to hear about cats living well into their 20s just as some cats sadly pass on before their time, whether due to natural causes, illness or accidents.

A Texas cat named Creme Puff is the Guinness World Record holder for longest-lived house cat, holding on for an astonishing 38 years until her death in 2005.

Caring for a house panther can cost between $4,250 and $31,200 over kitty’s lifetime, according to an analysis of associated costs by The Ascent, a vertical of financial literacy site The Motley Fool.

Kitty Cash
“My moneys, human! MINE! Unpaw those bills!” Credit:@catsandmoney/Twitter

The estimates break costs down into recurring expenses — which include food, treats, litter and veterinary care — and fixed expenses like scratching posts, toys, additional cat furniture, bowls, grooming tools and similar items.

Not surprisingly, the biggest expense is food, the cost of which has been exacerbated by inflation, rising fuel costs and lingering supply chain issues that caused a cascade effect during the pandemic. Everything from sourcing metal for cat food tins to meat availability was impacted as ports were closed and meat processing plants were shuttered at various points since early 2020.

An unrelated estimate from OnePoll, based on a survey commissioned by pet food company Solid Gold, put the lifetime estimate of cat servitude at $25,304. Like the Motley Fool analysis, OnePoll’s respondents cited food as the primary expense, followed by veterinary care.

The wide range from the Motley Fool analysis could be attributable to geography, how well the cat is fed, and how many extra things caretakers do for their cats. A person who lives in Manhattan, splurges on bespoke feline furniture and buys ultra-premium cat food at almost $3 a can is going to spend significantly more than an eastern European cat servant who feeds raw or home-cooked food and builds their own ledge loungers and scratching apparatus.

Teh Bank of Kitteh
“Welcome to Teh Bank of Kitteh, you may make a deposit but not withdraw!” Credit: @catsandmoney/Twitter

Here in New York the cost of cat food in local grocery stores has spiked dramatically, but online prices have remained steady. Keeping in mind we’ve never really endorsed any particular brand or vendor on PITB, I switched from occasionally buying food online to Chewy auto-shipments during the pandemic because Bud’s favorite food was becoming very difficult to find locally, and that arrangement has worked out cost-wise as well.

Bud’s a true Pain In The Bud when it comes to “leftovers” so his primary wet food is Sheba Perfect Portions. It’s reasonably priced, comes in variety packs and helps avoid waste since each meal comes in its own 1.3oz recyclable blister-like plastic package. (Recycling is especially important with these single-serve packages, tiny as they are.) His dry food is Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Chicken recipe, although occasionally I’ll buy the weight control version of the same dry food when it looks like Little Man has gotten a bit chubby. He doesn’t protest, thankfully.

I feed him two 1.3oz wet meals a day and fill his dry bowl less than halfway at night so he can have his late snack and doesn’t have to wake me up if and when he gets hungry overnight. Sometimes I’m dimly aware of him sliding off me, padding over to his little dining nook and munching on dry food before hopping back onto the bed and dozing off again.

Overall it works out to about $21 a month, so I’d call it an even $25 with treats. You can schedule your auto-ship at any interval you choose, edit it at any time, and prompt the shipment immediately if you’re running out of food, so you can save more by ordering a few months’ worth of food at a time and taking advantage of free shipping on orders of more than $50.

Has inflation impacted cat food prices in your local area? How much does it cost to feed your cat(s) every month?

Rich Kitty
“I’m a nip dealer, so what? Stop judging!”

6 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost To Care For A Cat?”

  1. Taking care of my cat has not been affected with cost increases. I get great inexpensive cat litter from Target. His dry food only went up two dollars on Chewy. He does not get too much of dry as he had a blockage years ago and could of died. That big bag of dry lasts me months. I get different brands of wet. Never the expensive but not cheap crappy wet food. I always look for sales on Chewy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OMC!! What I could say about prices for food, snacks, toys, Feliway Diffuser & refills, Flea spot-on treatments, litter & Vet visits…..alot is not printable here!
    My usual cost of BellaDharma’s monthly foods & supplies prior to Covid was approx $125.~ to $140.~
    Last week the SAME items in the same amount cost $200.~
    I almost fainted! Talk about STICKER SHOCK!
    Then there is THE Vet: If I do not have a friend to shlep us /12 hour up country, I am forced to take a Taxi there & back & pay the wait time also. I got a deal of $120.~ last time because the wait time was waived. I KNOW the Taxi Company owner well & his Son was our Chaffeur…
    With Gas prices thru the roof, I wonder how much it would cost now!?
    Then step INTO Vet Clinic & there is another $90.~ spent B4 exam. So then there is Exam cost & any Meds’ cost(s).
    It is horrific. And as much as I do not like people surrendering or leaving their 4 leggeds behind; I DO understand. I have no children or Grand kids to think about; no Spouse… I CAN afford BellaDharma……She does not eat Fancy Feast or Friskies…it is Weruva & Blue Buffalo all the way! Go figure! A semi-feral with Kitty Champagne taste!!
    Thanks for your post & for letting me share!
    BellaSita Mum aka Sherri-Ellen & **purrss** BellaDharma

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Let’s see, cat food prescription type, Chewy just raised the price to 57.95 a case. There’s 24 in a case he eats 2, 2.9 Oz cans a day (no dry allowed) so I need to buy 3 cases a month. His litter which is fully changed 1x per wk is 71.04 for 4 bags. His medicine is 67.00 a month which I subscribe for that so it’s a little cheaper & he’s in the vet every 3 months which the price varies from kinda exorbitantly drop dead expensive to just slightly extremely expensive & now he needs dental care which is hundreds…smh… it’s never ending. Still it needs to be done. It’s been put off long enough so the cat costs, if I didn’t share them with my roommate, my other half & all bcuz now Oreo’s human (Me) is on disability, I sadly would never be able pay for him solo now. I have had him since he was the size of a normal little kitten, unlike the giant he is now. He’s had medical issues, he’s grown so big, I’m on my 3rd & final carrier & second litter box. Then there’s the “idk wth” stuff, scratchy posts, beds, catnip he’s hated most of, toy’s etc etc. Just 🤷 to think about what the cost of cat’s are is scary to me. Yet, It’s that can’t live with them can’t & NEVER EVER will I want live without them thing that keeps me going. Love may not pay the bills but I do without pretty often so he can live & be loved by me in a safe & healthy environment. Love is love & it comes on fours, at least in my book.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well…
    I have 2 strictly indoor cats and a fer a l that usually drops by for food in the esrly morning.
    I cant really do much for the feral other than food and water.
    The feral therefire costs around .80 dollars a day to feed and water or around 280 dollars a year.
    My two indoor cats between them corst around 1.5 dollars a day f or cat food and litter and trests. So call it 600 a year. They never go out so their vet visits are limited to once a year when they get theit exam snd booster shots. This averages 100 dollars a year a n d includes both cats.
    Every year on Black Friday I spend around 100 dollars on toys a cat tree or other items from for their Christmas present.
    They receive small amounts if cooked chicken beef or fish when left over as supplemental food once or twice a week.
    That is roughly 1200 a year.
    For 3 cats. Which breaks down to around 1 dollar per day per cat.
    I am on a ocial security and dont regret the expenditure at all.
    In return I get affection and companionship from 2 of them and a slowly developing trust from the feral.
    Its a great return.
    Try getting anything from a human for a d ollar a day.

    Liked by 1 person

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