Cats are a popular pet in Australia, with three out of ten households having a cat family member.1 Having a feline companion at home can add companionship, affection, and humour to your life, but we don’t always think about how much it costs.
Before you adopt or buy your cat, doing a budgeting exercise can give you a good idea of how much you should be prepared to pay for your cat over the years. Cats can live for 15 years or more, so welcoming your new companion to your household is a long-term emotional and financial commitment.2
Adoption or purchase
Adopting your cat can cost anywhere from nothing to a few hundred dollars3, and the costs of buying a cat can range from $200 to $3,500 or more.4 Do shop around carefully when choosing your cat and avoid kitten farms5, which like puppy mills, have poor welfare standards. Whether you adopt or buy, your initial spend is only the starting point.
In an average four-week period, 14 per cent of Aussie cat owners pay for some type of pet-care service.6 Regular checkups at the vet are essential for a healthy cat. As your cat gets older, he or she might need more frequent checkups or possibly surgery and other medical treatment.
Your first year’s vet expenses may be around $1,0004, and this would cover things such as microchipping, vaccination, de-sexing, and vet checkups. After the first year, your ongoing annual costs for checkups and vaccination may be around $450.4
Like dogs, cats can get parasites such as fleas, ticks, and worms. Left untreated, these parasites can cause irritation and serious health conditions. Flea and tick treatments, along with deworming, may set you back around $300 to $450 a year.4
Food and treats
Feeding your feline friend could cost up to $800 a year4 depending on the type of food your cat needs. Treats such as fish sticks and chew bars will cost extra. You may be able to save more on feeding costs by preparing your own cat food and snacks from fresh fish and meat.
Accessories, bedding, and toys
To keep your cat comfortable, engaged, and active, you’ll need some accessories and toys. Start with a collar for identification purposes, and a harness and leash could also come in handy. Water and food bowls, a cat carriage, and a litter tray with litter accessories are essential.
You’ll also want to give your cat a scratch post, toys to keep him or her happy and entertained. These items can cost up to $500 initially to set up, and around $100 each year afterwards.7
Your pet needs to be registered with your local council. The fees for registration can vary (around $30 to $190 or more4) depending on the council, so call your council to obtain an accurate figure.
Grooming and other services
Cats need minimal grooming and cleaning as they groom themselves, but if you find your cat needs the occasional bath and blowout or nail clipping and fur trimming, this will cost extra. Another cost to budget for is boarding fees when you’re away.
You could save on grooming and other services by learning to groom and bathe your cat yourself. You could also save more by boarding your cat with a family member or friend when you’re away.
Australian cat owners are underinsured with only one in five4 having pet insurance for their cat. Pet insurance could be considered an ongoing expense, but it’ll probably save you over time, especially as your cat gets older. Real Premium Accident & Illness Cover can cover as much as 80 per cent of certain vet bills and medical treatment for your cat. You may be able to claim as much as $12,000 a year to help your cat get the right medical treatment.
You’ll also be able to access extra benefits depending on the type of pet insurance policy you have. For example, with Real Premium Accident & Illness Cover you could have access to useful features such as Optional Routine Care benefit which covers a portion of the cost of everyday care, like vaccinations and teeth cleaning.
Saving on pet costs
Owning a cat can be a big commitment with average total costs running to around $1,029 a year4, but the affection and love our animal companions give us is well worth it. Staying within your budget is important, but so is ensuring your cat has a great quality of life.
Buy food in bulk and DIY – Buy raw ingredients in bulk and prepare your own cat food. Whether it’s fresh fish or meat, (with your vet’s guidance), make your own health cat food and possibly save. Freeze and defrost for each meal, and your cat will likely appreciate your home cooking.
Adopt – Adopting a cat from a shelter could help you save as your cat may already be desexed, wormed, and vaccinated.3
Desex your cat – The cost of desexing your cat will be lower than caring for your cat through birth and raising and adopting out a litter.
Take good care of your cat – The biggest thing you can do to help your cat and your budget is to take good care of your feline friend. Provide room to exercise and roam, and feed him a quality diet. Make sure she gets regular dental checkups, and learn how to clean her teeth.8 The little everyday things you do will give your cat a good quality of life in the long run.
Get insurance – Having an appropriate level of pet insurance protects you from unexpected vet expenses and allows your cat to get the care they need.
Can you afford a cat?
Cats, along with dogs, rank among Australia’s favourite types of pets. Owning a pet requires budgeting and planning if you want to ensure your cat enjoys great health in the long run. By preparing for expected and unexpected vet costs and getting insurance, you can provide your feline companion with an amazing quality of life.
Real Insurance provides award-winning insurance products at an affordable price. Find out more about how our Pet Insurance can benefit you and your cat, and request a quick quote.