Parenting... of the feline sort


I am thinking about adopting a cat, and wondering about budgeting for the true expenses of being a feline parent. I'm thinking I'll adopt an adult cat, not a kitten.

For you cat-parent YNABers out there, what are your monthly/yearly/emergency expenses for your cat? About how much are you spending? I want to make sure to save up enough upfront and to chart out expenses appropriately so I can be a responsible cat mom.


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    • Quinn
    • MrJsgirl
    • Spring_Green_Guitar.3
    • 2 yrs ago
    • 1
    • Reported - view

    I have four cats. 7, 3, 6months and 4 months.  Spay, neuter, and shots for the kittens were the abnormal expenses.  Kittens both got chipped as well, they said I could bring the older two in for chips at $15 each, but this is at a place that only does spay/neuter and initial vaccinations, so I don't know what that would cost at a normal vet. 

    In a normal month, I buy food and litter.  I buy pine litter pellets, about $7.50 per bag at walmart and one bag will last around a month.  Big bag (30 pounds?) dry cat food runs about $20, and lasts maybe 7 weeks. So spending about $35 every other month for those.

    I do need to be better about saving for emergency vet visits, just in case.  I believe we are supposed to redo shots once a year, but they are all indoor kitties so I have been really bad about doing that after the initial vaccinations. I do have at home flea spray and ear mite drops, which I believe were less than $10 each and last quite a while.

    I purchased a cat tree ($70), several pet beds at thrift stores (but they sleep anywhere, so not absolutely necessary) food and water dishes, harnesses and collars (they can escape, so this was pretty pointless). I have 2 litter boxes, nothing fancy, but just got a covered box to try out since one cat thinks litter belongs everywhere but the box.  I have a litter mat which is supposed to stop litter from getting all over, not sure how well that is working though. Litter box scoop for each box, $1 each at walmart.

    Cats all have all their claws, so I have a trimmer that was probably around $5. Also a few brushes, one specifically for when they are shedding. $15 or so? They love it.

    I occasionally buy canned cat food as a treat.  I don't really buy toys as they will have hours of fun with a shoelace, feather, my necklaces, bits of paper, etc.

    I have $50 in my pet budget every month but don't spend that every month on recurring supplies, the extra goes for the once-in-a-while or one time purchases.  Hope this helps!

    Like 1
  • I'm hoping to adopt a cat next spring or early summer. Also leaning toward a (youngish) adult or adolescent. My last kitty passed on nine months before I discovered YNAB, so I don't have a good sense of what his "true expenses" were, either in his youth or his more expensive geriatric years. I do need to go back and figure out how much I spent on vet care over the years in order to be more prepared over the next feline life span.

    I haven't started planning yet for ongoing food/cat litter expenses, but I do have a Cat Parenting category group. It's subdivided into Adoption Fee (target $190 - the actual amount will vary depending on the shelter or rescue I wind up adopting from; it may cost a bit more, or considerably less); Initial Vet Bills (target $200, though I may increase that); Pet Health Insurance Premium (target $350 for the first annual payment - not a requirement, but it helped me tremendously the last time around); Cat Tree (target $90), and Toys/Scratchy Things (target $30). 

    In terms of veterinary expenses, in addition to insurance premiums,I'll probably have a Target Spending by Date goal that will gradually increase each year; not sure of the exact amounts yet. 

    Aside from a litter box and scoop (if you haven't had cats previously), you'll need a reasonably sturdy carrier, which doesn't necessarily have to cost a lot - and there are good ones made of cardboard which can last a few years (or longer, depending on the cat) while you're saving for something more permanent. Also food and water dishes, nail trimmers, etc., as mentioned below. 

    • Momofboysx3
    • I'm going to master budgeting, even if it kills me!
    • Steel_Blue_Mainframe.11
    • 2 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    I just watched a Nick True video last night about the true costs of pets. Check it out.

  • I adopted a 7 month old kitten last March.  It had been 6 years since we had a kitty so we needed everything! Start up costs (litter box, litter, food, food bowls, pet carrier, toys, etc.) was about $150 - we spoiled him a bit.   Our kitten came with up to date shots, was neutered, and chipped.  The cost to adopt was $75.00.  I found a vet nearby that had a $1 special for the first visit.  I budget $50 per month to cover litter, food, toys etc.  I use Skoon litter - $25 per month subscription, and he is on a Whole Earth grain free diet - $16 per 5 lb bag that lasts a month.   I have another category for vet bills that I fund $50 a month and I will cap it at $1,500.00.  Good luck finding your new furry family member!

    Like 5
  • We have 5 cats so our budget will likely be significantly higher than yours for one. *Side note* I would highly suggest adopting 2 if that is feasible for you. The shelter may have some bonded pairs and/or a set that are at least friendly with other kitties. In addition, our cats are our kids, so we probably spend accordingly (ie no daycare, school supplies, etc). 😉

    We budget $150/month for wet & dry food - specifically Fancy Feast Classic Pate wet food (only kind they can all agree on that is relatively junk free) and Petcurean Go dry food. Both on autoship from

    We budget $75/month for cat litter, litter box supplies, toys, etc - specifically ExquisiCat Clumping Clay litter and litter genie refills from Petsmart.

    Lastly, we budget $100/year/cat for vet appointments ($500/12=$42/month).

    Periodically we may upgrade litter boxes, cat towers, etc and those can usually be covered by our "extra" saving in this category or from my "stuff I forgot to budget for" category. 

    Others have already mentioned, but if this is your first cat you will need food dishes, water dishes, litter boxes, nail trimmers, scratching posts...

    • Vibrant
    • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
    • vibrant
    • 2 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    I don't track my cats' food (two kinds) or litter separately from my other groceries, so I can't help  you there. I can tell you that (in my average sized midwestern city):

    • to get one of my cat's vaccinations updated in summer 2018 to satisfy my new landlord, the bill was ~$130.
    • In December, to have my sick cat examined by a mobile vet in my home + some treatment supplies was $160.
    • And this sucks to think about, I know, but is worth planning for: when we had to say goodbye to him a couple weeks later, the in-home euthanasia + cremation was $550 (could have been more but I opted not to have his ashes returned).
    • Voracious Reader
    • YNAB broke is not the absence of money, but rather the judgment that it has something more important to do.
    • Orange_Cheetah.3
    • 2 yrs ago
    • 1
    • Reported - view

    I also use the Fancy Feast Original Pate for my cat. It has the highest protein content of just about any I have found and is vet approved.

    I like to keep her on a primarily wet diet as cats don't tend to drink enough to compensate for a kibble diet. So she gets a can every morning and night. I keep a little dry food out for her for those days I get stuck at the office for 16 hours, and sometimes also hand feed her a few pieces of the kibble as a "treat" and bonding experience.

    I buy the 30 packs of wet food at Wal-Mart for around 16 dollars, which works out to $30-$35 monthly for wet. The 8 dollar bag of dry food I get her usually lasts a couple of months, and I spend about another 20 monthly on the brand of litter she prefers. So with the occasional toy and random expense, 75 dollars per month should more than cover it.

    I get her shots through the humane society which is the best price in town at around $65 annually, and I pay 10 dollars a year to register her microchip. When she walked on a hot stove and scorched herself the emergency vet was around $350, but apart from that she doesn't need a lot of health care... the humane society does her wellness check each year with her shots for around 45 dollars more.

    Random tips:

    Leave her cat carrier out and open all the time, preferably with a soft cuddly towel in it. When you need to transport her somewhere you save a LOT of time if she's already comfortable with the carrier and doesn't fight you.

    I keep a couple of disposable litter boxes complete with litter on hand at all times. They are super cheap (between 3 and 4 dollars apiece) but you'll be very glad to have them if you ever have to leave your home with her on short notice (like for a weather evacuation, or an unexpected trip to the hospital where you will have to board her for a time, or a family emergency where you have to take her.) I have only used them every couple of years but they just streamline everything if you have to uproot her for some reason.

    I agree with the advice to get two if you can, especially if you can find a bonded pair. They will be happier and healthier.

    I try to keep around $500 in my veterinary expenses fund, but I really need to up that to 1000 as my kitty is now eight and will probably need more care rather than less going forward.

    Be aware that some cats can be subject to expensive dental problems, and if that's the case with yours, then you can pretty much count on an extra $3-500 every year for teeth cleanings and dental care.

    My sweet kitty is the joy of my heart. I hope you find the same!

    Like 1
  • I have 2 cats, and on average I spend about $75/month on litter and cat food. I do purchase higher end products (including raw meat that I make into their food for them), so YMMV.
    There are quite a few things you'll need to get set up, though, and so your initial outlay will be higher in the beginning. Additionally, cats are picky creatures, so sometimes you'll buy one thing and they won't like it, so you'll go back and buy something else.

    I found my cats as kittens in a friend's barn, and they were sick. THANKFULLY I had a good friend who is a vet that gave them care for me at no cost. Additionally, I posted in places like Freecycle and Craigslist looking for supplies. I had a lot of people who donated quite a few things to me, including a large cat tree, several cat beds, and lots of toys. Many times people have extra things for their cats, so don't be afraid to ask for things that people have that they might not be using that they would be willing to give away.

    My other great resource (if you're in the US) is I LOVE their site. They offer really competitive prices, and free shipping over $49. Between the food and litter, I usually very easily make it to $49, and when I'm below that, it's only a few dollars, so I buy a couple of toys instead of paying shipping, so the cats always have something new to play with. Chewy is also fantastic about making things right when there is an issue - even if it's not their responsibility. I've had them give me a full refund on a bag of cat food that was unopened, and tell me not to ship it back just to donate it to a place in need. And their free shipping is usually at my house the same day I receive the tracking number.

    As I mentioned, lots of toys is a good thing. Cats get bored easily, and that's when they tend to start doing destructive things. A tall scratching post has helped save our furniture, and they usually like nice cat trees that are taller as well. A variety of toys is a good thing, and don't under estimate the power of cheap (or free) toys. My cats often go nuts over the rings off of the milk jug, and sometimes a piece of dirt on the floor....

    Thanks for looking for an older cat, I hope you find the perfect match!
    Feel free to message me if you have any other random questions, I have lots of experience with behavior and that sort of thing.

    Like 1
    • Cori
    • Cornflower_Blue_Tugboat.1
    • 2 yrs ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    I have two boys and budget $90 CDN a month for them for food and litter. I have Luuup litter boxes so the initial cost for those was about $75 each but the time savings in scooping is worth it's weight in gold to me so worth it. I bought two low cat trees ($50 a piece) and a tall cat tree that cost me $180. These prices are pretty variable though because I had to get very sturdy trees since my cats are large at 16lbs each and have a tendency to run full tilt at trees for maximum damage lol

    Because I have the Luuup boxes, I need to use a "non-sticky" litter and buy Arm&Hammer Slide. About $25 for a box that lasts me 2ish months for 2 cats

    I feed my boys Royal Canin Urinary (not the vet formula, the grocery equivalent) and that runs me $60 a month 

    For vet fees it costs me $85 a visit for the exam and then shots are $25/each for your standard 4-way and rabies so I budget $300 a year for shots. I also keep a $3000 float for emergencies/surgery. 

    Like 2
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