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How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Cat?

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If you’re thinking about adopting a cat then this comprehensive guide is for you.  After all, you may be wondering just how much does it cost to adopt a cat? Naturally, the answer is not set in stone since it varies depending on several factors. But, there are some general costs to be aware of.

In addition, costs will further depend on your location. In our article today, we are looking at costs in the United States.

Upfront Costs

There are some general upfront costs that most pet rescue centres will charge you. However, these costs can vary depending on where you live and which shelter or rescue organization you adopt from. These include costs like adoption fees, spaying or neutering, vaccinations, and microchipping. According to some estimates, the total upfront cost of rescuing a cat and rehoming it is around $625. 

Along with upfront costs, there will be ongoing expenses to think about. These include food, treats, litter boxes, cat litter, toys, grooming, and regular veterinary care. While these costs can add up over time, many cat owners find that the joy and companionship their furry pal brings to their lives is well worth it.

Understanding Cat Adoption

Adopting a cat is a serious commitment, and you need to make sure you’re ready for the responsibility. If you’re looking to adopt a cat, there are a few things you should know about the adoption process. 

Adoption Programs and Organizations

There are several types of organizations that offer cat adoption programs, including animal shelters, rescue groups, and pet humane societies. Each organization has its own adoption process and fees, so it’s important to do your research and find one that fits your needs and budget.

Adoption Fees

Most adoption programs charge an adoption fee, which can range from $0 to $300.  There is no standard fee for this service so it really depends on the organization’s set rates, their operating costs, and the health and age of the cat. 

The adoption fee normally covers the cost of spaying or neutering, vaccinations, and other medical expenses. At their discretion, some organizations may include microchipping, a collar, and a starter kit of food and supplies.

Adoption Process

The adoption process usually involves filling out an application, meeting with a pet adoption counsellor, and possibly a home visit. The organization will want to make sure the cat is going to a safe and loving home. This means they may ask about your living situation, experience with cats, and other details.

Benefits of Adoption

Adopting a cat has many benefits, including the knowledge that you’re saving a cat’s life, providing companionship for the cat and you, and reducing your own stress. Cats are also low-maintenance pets that don’t need the attention that dogs require. Plus, when you adopt from a shelter or rescue group, you’re supporting a good cause and helping to reduce the number of homeless cats. 

Adopting a cat can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to be prepared and accept the responsibility. By understanding the adoption process and fees, you can find the right cat for your home and give them a loving forever home. You can’t save them all but rehoming one is a very rewarding thing indeed.

cat on a couch with its owner

Adoption Costs

When it comes to adopting a cat, there are several factors that can influence the adoption fees. Here are some of the most common factors that can affect the cost of adopting a cat:

Age of the Cat

The cat’s age is one of the most significant factors affecting the adoption fees. Because kittens generally have a full life ahead of them they are in high demand.  Because of this, kittens tend to have higher adoption fees than adult cats. In fact, some shelters and rescues offer discounts for adult cats to help them find good homes.  It’s always worth an ask!

Breed of the Cat

The breed of the cat can sometimes influence the adoption fees. If you’re looking to adopt a purebred cat from a breeder, you can expect to pay more than adopting a mixed-breed feral cat from a shelter or rescue. Some rescue exotic purebreds can cost a lot even at a shelter. 

Special Needs

If a cat has special needs, such as medical conditions or behavioural issues, the adoption fees are often a bit higher. This is because the shelter or rescue may have invested more time and resources into the cat’s care. They will give you an explanation if the total costs are significantly higher than their average.

Adoption Fees vs. Variable Fees

Some shelters and rescues charge a flat adoption fee, while others charge a variable fee. Variable fees depend on the cat’s age, breed, and other significant factors. Variable fees can be more expensive, but they can also be more flexible. While this may prevent you from adopting the cat you want, it does allow you to choose a cat that closely fits your budget.


Some shelters and rescues depend on donations to operate. This means they may ask you for a donation in addition to the regular adoption fee. Donations are usually optional, but they can help support the shelter or rescue and the cats in their care.

Remember, your cost of adopting a cat can vary depending on several factors. So, it’s important to do your research and find a shelter or rescue that fits your budget and provides you with a cat that goes with your lifestyle.

British shorthair cat lying on a chair at home

Initial Adoption Costs

There are initial costs that you need to consider when thinking about adopting a cat. These costs will vary depending on factors like: where you adopt your cat, the age of the cat, and what is included in the adoption fee.

One of the first things you need to think about is the adoption fee. This fee will vary depending on the shelter or rescue group you visit or contact. On average, cat adoption fees may swing from $30 to $300. As noted above, the more exotic breeds may cost more. For example, if you’re looking to adopt a certain purebred cat, you may have to pay anywhere from $300 to $3,000.

In addition to the adoption fee, you may need to pay for some medical expenses. Many shelters and rescue groups will provide some initial medical care, but you should ask what is included in the adoption fee before adopting.

 Here are several of the initial medical expenses you may need to pay for:

  • Vaccinations: Cats need vaccinations to protect them from diseases such as feline distemper and rabies. The cost of vaccinations can vary, but expect to pay around $50 to $100 for the initial round of vaccinations.
  • Microchip: A microchip is a small ID device that is implanted under your cat’s skin. It provides a permanent form of identification and can help reunite you with your cat if they ever get lost. The cost of a microchip is typically $25 to $50.
  • Spaying or neutering: Most shelters and rescue groups will spay or neuter your cat before adoption. If this service is not included in the adoption costs, then you may need to pay for this procedure separately. The cost of spaying or neutering can vary, but it can be anywhere from $0 to $300.
  • Feline leukemia/FIV test: Feline leukaemia and FIV are two deadly contagious diseases that all too often affect unprotected cats. Many shelters and rescue groups will test your cat for these diseases before they will allow adoption. The cost of these tests can range between $0 and $100.
  • Flea and tick treatment: Cats can get fleas and ticks, which can cause serious health problems. Many shelters and rescue groups will provide flea and tick treatment before adoption. If this is not included in the adoption fee, you may need to pay for this treatment separately. Ask about it! The cost of flea and tick treatment can vary, but expect to pay as much as $100.

So, How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Cat?

Remember that your initial adoption costs for a cat can vary depending on the services that are included in the adoption fee. It’s important to confirm what is included in the adoption fee and what additional expenses you may need to pay. By being prepared for these initial costs, you can be sure that your adopted cat will be off to a happy start in your care.

So, we hope this comprehensive cat adoption guide helps you, and if you want more tips on all things pet-related sign up for our newsletter. Plus, if you are bringing a cat or kitten home, take a look at our adopting a cat checklist.

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

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