How Much Does it Cost to Keep a Cat?

Dogs may be known as 'man's best friend' but anyone who has ever had the pleasure of sharing their home with a cat knows they are just as loveable! But as lovely as they are, they can demand a lot of care and attention, and this doesn't come cheap.

Although they're worth every penny, just how much on average do they cost their owner? In this guide, we'll take a look at some average costs involved in looking after your beloved moggy.

How much does it cost to buy a cat?

The initial cost of buying a cat can be relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of purchasing a dog, with most cats being acquired free or for less than £100. Of course, if you want a fancy feline such as a Bengal, Maine Coon or Ragdoll, you may have to dig a little deeper, as these cats can demand price tags into the hundreds of pounds!

Rescuing a kitty is a great way to welcome a pet into your home and will usually only cost the adoption fee. This fee helps the rescue centre to cover the cost of spaying and microchipping your cat, which will usually be done before you take your moggy home to meet the family. What are the average costs of cat vaccinations?

Your feline friend will need annual vaccinations to prevent diseases such as cat flu, feline infectious enteritis and possibly feline leukaemia virus. Kittens should be vaccinated from around nine weeks old and then once yearly for the rest of her life via a booster vaccination, to keep her immunity topped up. The average cost of an annual cat booster vaccination, including feline leukaemia virus is £43.70 in the UK.

It may be worth comparing prices from a few of your local vets before you book your cat in for her jabs, as some vet practices charge twice the price of other practices.

How much does it cost to spay or neuter a cat?

Spaying (for females) or neutering (for males) not only prevents unwanted kittens, it can also have health and behavioural benefits for your kitty. Having the procedure done can reduce the risk of your cat roaming to find a mate, which also diminishes the risk of being run over or getting lost while out on the prowl. It can also prevent certain cancers and viruses such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), transmitted through biting and sexual activity.

The cost of the operation varies depending on the vet practice that you use. However, the average cost to get a male cat neutered is around £40-£80 and the average cost for spaying a female cat is around £50-£100. If you struggle to fund the procedure, and you meet certain means-tested criteria, you may be eligible for financial help from animal charities such as Cats Protection and the RSPCA.

How much does it cost to microchip a cat?

Cats are inquisitive creatures, but this very nature can cause them to get lost when out exploring the world around them. If your cat does go astray, having her microchipped could mean she is reunited with you in no time.

Although legally required for dogs, microchipping is optional for cats. However, it could still be a good idea if you own an outdoor cat who likes to make herself at home in numerous houses around the neighbourhood. Should your missing cat be 'rehomed' by one of your neighbours, microchipping may be the only way to prove ownership if there is a dispute.

A tiny device, the size of a grain of rice, will be inserted under the skin at the back of your cat's neck. This won't hurt your cat and the procedure should only cost between £20 and £30.

A lovely cat
"Most cats are acquired free or less than £100, unless you want a fancy feline such as a Bengal, Maine Coon or Ragdoll."
Another lovely cat
"While the price of an average vet bill has gone up, the cost of pet insurance premiums has come down slightly for the first time in eight years, so now may be a great time to buy."

How much does cat food cost?

The cost of feeding your cat will, of course, vary depending on the brand of food you buy for your moggy, as well as how much your cat eats. As a rough guide, you're looking at an annual cost of between £100 and £200.

Good quality cat food should contain more meat and less 'filler', such as cereal and bone meal, which has little to no nutritional value. The ingredients on the packaging is listed in order of quantity, so if meat is top of the list, it means that food contains more meat than any other ingredient. Try to avoid foods where "animal derivates" or "meal" are the first listed ingredients, as these products are usually lower in quality, and make sure your chosen cat food is marketed as 'complete' as this should mean it contains all the nutrients your cat needs to thrive.

Average cost of vet bills

Unfortunately, there's no NHS for your cat and without pet insurance, vet bills could run into hundreds of pounds. In 2018, the average claim made by pet owners on their insurance was £793, up 4% from the previous year. Could you afford to pay that amount of money should your kitty be injured or become ill unexpectedly?

How much is cat insurance?

One of the most expensive aspects of cat ownership can be caring for your moggy if she gets sick or injured. With cat insurance, you can be covered for accidental injury, illness or ongoing medical conditions. According to NimbleFins, a lifetime pet insurance policy for your cat will set you back around £29.82 a month.

Do bear in mind though, this figure is for a fully comprehensive lifetime policy, so the price you pay for your cat may differ greatly from this figure depending on the cover option you chose.

Pet insurance providers calculate your premium with a few things in mind, such as:
  • The age of your cat
  • The breed of your cat
  • The level and type of cover you need

And in case you're wondering if pet insurers pay out, according to figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), insurers paid out a total of £758m in the last year, setting a new record!

Why should I insure my cat?

If anything were to happen to your beloved kitty cat, you could be landed with a hefty bill, putting you in an awful position wondering whether you can afford the treatment. But while the price of an average vet bill has gone up, the cost of pet insurance premiums has, in fact, come down slightly for the first time in eight years, so now may be a great time to buy!

Pet insurance can provide valuable peace of mind, knowing you won't have to deny your cat potentially life-saving treatment should she need it. You can insure your moggy as soon as she turns 4 weeks old. It's often best to get your cover when your cat is still young, as the premiums are usually cheaper the younger your cat is, as she is less likely to need veterinary treatment when young and healthy.

To get an indication of how much it could cost to cover your cat, why not compare pet insurance quotes now? It takes a matter of minutes to do and you can compare prices and benefits from a range of leading providers.

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