Woman brushing a very relaxed cat

Adopting a Cat Checklist

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So you’ve adopted a cat? Congratulations on finding your new feline friend! Now what?  Well, for starters you’ll need to feed and care for your cat and so we bring you our handy adopting a cat checklist.

While the adoption fee covers many initial costs, there is a lifetime of ongoing and unexpected costs to ponder. Be sure you have a pet budget that will meet your new responsibilities.

Here are some real costs you’ll need to pony up for:

Cat Food

Cat food is expensive and feeding your cat a balanced and nutritious diet is critical for their health and well-being. Depending on the brand and type of cat food you buy, you can expect to spend anywhere from $15 to $50 per month on cat food.  

Cat Litter

Kitty litter is another ongoing expense you’ll have to budget for. Depending on the brand and type of litter you choose, you can expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $20 per month on litter, and more if you already have other cats. You will also need to purchase a cat litter box, which can cost anywhere from $10 to a lot, depending on how fancy or high-tech you want it to be.

Cat Bed

While cats are known for their love of napping in cozy spots, like sunny window sills, they don’t necessarily need a fancy bed. A low-cost bed, a simple blanket, or a towel will suffice, but you can expect to spend at least $10 to $20 on bedding.

Cat Scratching Post

Cats need to scratch to keep their claws healthy and to mark their territory. Providing a scratching post is essential for their health and to save your furniture. You can expect to spend around $20 to $50 on a well-built cat scratching post.

Cat Carrier

A small pet carrier is needed for taking your cat to the vet or on road trips. Why?  It’s common sense that you can’t drive around with a loose and frightened cat in your car!  Expect to spend around $30 to $50 on a good quality carrier.

Cat Treats

Granted, yummy cat treats are not essential, but they are a nice way to bond with your cat and reward his or her good behaviour. You can expect to spend about $5 or $10 each month on cat treats.  Note: never give your cat sweets, seasoned meats or other people foods as treats!

Cat Training

Training is of very limited need with house cats, but it can be helpful for teaching them good behaviour and tricks. There are tons of online training resources, including books, and you can easily spend $10 and up for non-essential training materials. Cats can be rather stubborn but they do learn quickly. 

Boarding or Pet Sitting

If you plan on hitting the road without your cat, you will need to pay for boarding or pet sitting. Boarding can cost anywhere from $15 to $50 per day, while in-home pet sitting can cost around $15 to $25 per visit.

Overall, the ongoing expenses of owning a cat are relatively low compared to other pets. By budgeting for these costs, you can ensure that your cat is happy, healthy, and well-cared for.

Cat Medical Care 

veterinarian checking a cat's ears

When adopting a cat, you need to consider the medical care costs that come with owning a pet. Routine veterinary care is needed to keep your cat healthy and happy. The costs of veterinary care will vary depending on where you live, the age of your cat, and the services required.

Critical care due to injury or disease can be really expensive and hard to budget for.  Pet insurance to defray some of those costs might be a good investment for you. These policies can range in cost depending on the coverage you choose, but they can provide peace of mind knowing that you’ll be able to provide the best possible care for your cat.

Some of the routine veterinary care costs to consider when adopting a cat include:

  • Vaccinations: Pet cats need routine vaccinations to protect against common diseases like rabies, FHV-1, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. The cost of vaccinations can range from $50 to $100 per year.
  • Spaying or Neutering: Spaying or neutering your cat is important for their health and can also help prevent unwanted litters. The cost of spaying or neutering can range from $100 to $300.
  • Dental Care: Regular dental care is important to prevent tooth and gum disease and basically to keep your cat’s mouth healthy. The annual cost of cat dental care can range from $200 to $500.
  • Parasite Prevention: Fleas, ticks, and heartworms can cause serious health problems in cats. Preventative treatments can cost around $20 to $50 per month.

Routine veterinary care is an important part of cat ownership. The costs of veterinary care can vary depending on the services required, but it’s important to budget for regular check-ups, vaccinations, and preventative treatments. Please note that unexpected medical expenses can occur and these costs can add up quickly. So, do consider pet insurance or setting aside funds for unexpected expenses.

Budgeting for a Cat

Adopting a cat can be a great addition to your household, but it’s important to consider the costs that come with cat ownership. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when budgeting for a pet cat:

Upfront Costs

There are always some upfront costs that come with cat adoption. Adoption fees vary depending on the shelter or location, but you can expect to pay at least $50 for most cats and kittens. Some shelters may already have spayed or neutered, microchipped, or vaccinated the cat, which can help reduce your initial expenses.

Along with the adoption fee, there are some other necessary costs to incur. You’ll need to buy food and water bowls, a litter box, litter, and cat toys. You may also want to get a cat scratching post to help keep your cat’s claws healthy and prevent them from scratching your furniture.

Ongoing Costs

Once you’ve adopted your new cat, there are going to be recurring costs as well. Cat food is a big one of those.  You can expect to spend at least $120 to $500 per year on cat food and treats. 

You’ll also need to purchase kitty litter on a regular basis, which can cost between $150 to $300 a year. And don’t forget that you’ll need to take your cat to the vet for regular check-ups and vaccinations.  This can be an additional cost from $50 to $200 per visit.

Lifestyle Considerations

When budgeting for a newly acquired cat, think about your own lifestyle too. If you travel a lot, you’ll need to provide care for your cat while you’re away. This can mean the added cost of a pet sitter or a boarding facility, which can add to your ongoing costs.

And, if you have other pets in your home, you’ll need to see how well your new cat will fit in with them. After all, you can’t expect a good outcome if you just dump a new cat among other pets. You may need to buy additional food and supplies and you’ll need to take the time to gradually introduce your pets to each other.

Adopting a Cat Checklist

As a new cat owner, take advantage of the support and resources available to you. You’ll find a ton of information online about cat care, plus sign up for our newsletter to get tips sent direct to your inbox. And, it’s always a good idea to get the needed advice of your veterinarian or a local animal shelter.

Adopting a cat can be a rewarding experience, and we’re happy that you’ve made the decision to adopt a cat. But, it’s important to consider all of the costs that come with cat ownership. By budgeting carefully and seeking out support and resources, you’ll be able to share a loving home with your new feline pal.


Want to prepare for your new arrival? Grab our cat care planner to help keep all your cat’s care needs at your fingertips.

cat care planner available on Etsy

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