How much does it cost to be a cat parent? Can you afford it?
The ASPCA estimates the cost of owning a cat in the first year to be over $1,100.
Expenses for cat care have been reported at anywhere from $400 to $900 per year thereafter, depending upon which source you use, and what's included in those numbers.
For example, the yearly cost estimate from the ASPCA for cat ownership includes a very low $15 for a scratching post.
For some of us, we may buy several scratching posts. We may get larger or better quality ones, like the Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge that Jazzy uses.
We also may purchase cat climbing furniture that includes a scratching board, and these items may cost over $200.
Spay/neuter costs may be less, however, if you adopt an older cat, or one from a shelter where that cost is included in the adoption fee.
Beyond year one, the annual overall cost of owning a cat from the ASPCA is estimated at around $800. That includes $175 for a cat health insurance policy, and $160 for veterinary medical expenses.
Only a small percentage of pet owners carry pet health insurance, and your medical expenses could be different, especially if your cat becomes ill or injured.
The annual numbers also only allot $25 for cat toys and treats, and $30 for miscellaneous expenses. I think those numbers are low.
There's no mention of wear and tear on floors, carpeting, and furniture, or any extra cleaning expenses associated with living with a cat. Factor that in.
In some cases, you may end up switching out your furniture to accommodate the cat. Some of us will spend more on food options. All this adds up.
There are also pet sitting or boarding costs during vacations, unexpected medical problems, and other miscellaneous expenses.
In any case, if we take a $700 a year figure, and assume the cat lives with us for 15 years, that puts the total cost of owning a cat over the life of the animal at $10,500.
At $800 a year, we're looking at a total cost of $12,000 over 15 years.
A pet is a lifetime commitment. Yet, when economic times are tough, many people give up their animals due to cost considerations.
It's tempting to give in to your impulses, or to answer the pleas of a child who has been begging to get a kitten. At these times, taking a step back and considering the total cost of owning a cat first is a wise move.
If you're considering adopting a cat, I urge you to make a commitment to that animal and understand that you will likely spend at least $10,000 over the lifetime of the cat.
What cats give us as companion animals is priceless, so $10,000 seems like a bargain. Just make sure you can afford the expense.
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