How much does a new kitten cost? Everything you need to budget for your cat’s first year

Woman holding a little kitten in her hands

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  1. On this page

    • What is the average cost of a kitten?

    • 6 expenses that impact the cost of a kitten

    • How can I save on kitten expenses?

There’s no doubt that kittens are cute: they purr, pounce and cuddle like champions. And they are generally less expensive than dogs. But even if someone gives you one for free, there’s still expenses related to having a cat. If you’re thinking about making a new feline friend, knowing how much a kitten costs is essential, says Andrea Woroch, personal finance expert for Understanding (and budgeting for) what you will need to pay to provide proper care is an essential part of pet parenting.

What is the average cost of a kitten?

Infographic showing average first year, annual and lifetime costs

Infographic showing average first year, annual and lifetime costs

Corinne Mucha

The average expense for kitten care ranges from as little as $600 to $5,300. This means you can expect a budget $50 to $450 per month for this first year. Subsequently, cat parents spend about $300 to $3,000 each year or $25 to $250 per month.

the price of a cat over a lifetime can really add up. But for many of us, the joy of having a feline companion is well worth it.

6 expenses that impact the cost of a kitten

1. Purchase or adoption fees

What you pay to bring home a kitten will have the biggest impact on your first year expenses. It costs much more to buy a kitten from a breeder than to get one from a shelter. Another financial bonus to adoption is that shelter kittens typically receive veterinary services, including vaccinations, which eliminates some of the costs of raising a healthy kitten.

2. Health checks and vaccinations

Like young children, kittens need vaccines to boost their immunity and protect them from common diseases. No more visits to the vet to get cat strokes and wellness checkups means that first-year veterinary expenses for kittens are higher than for adult cats, which generally only need annual exams.

According to VCA Veterinary Hospitals, kittens should receive four rounds of vaccinations starting at six to eight weeks of age, then every three to four weeks until they are four months old. It is normal for kittens to be tested and treated for intestinal parasites (worms) also, say Michigan Humane Society, as most kittens have them. Parasites are transmitted to offspring through their mother’s blood during pregnancy and through her milk when breastfeeding.

3. Sterilization or sterilization surgery

The kittens are ready for a castration or sterilization procedure around the age of six months. Most pet owners opt for this because it prevents unwanted pregnancies, menstruation, and annoying behaviors like meowing when cats come into heat. the cost of sterilization or sterilization can run up to $500according to the prices of veterinary clinics near you.

4. Pet gear

Making your kitten feel like home doesn’t cost much, unless you want to splurge. There are toys, beds, collars, bowls, brushes, nail clippers and litter boxes at different price points. And, you don’t have to get it all at once. Add things like a scratching post and a cat tree over time. The one thing you can’t skimp on? Litter. The Humane Society of the United States recommends changing your kitten’s litter box at least once a week.

RELATED: How to litter train your kitten

5. Food

Many pet parents are dying choosing the best kitten food and treats. During the first year, kittens need formulated meals to support their growing bodies. Although more expensive than adult cat food, kitten food is a must. It contains more nutrients and vitamins to promote healthy growth. Apart from that, choosing the right food depends more on your budget and what your kitten likes.

6. Microchip

Think about microchip your cat as a permanent identification (ID) tag. It reunites you with your furry companion if your cat gets lost. Even indoor cats can accidentally end up outside. When scanned by staff at a shelter or veterinary clinic, the chip provides your contact information so they can let you know where your furry friend is.

The procedure is quick and easy: a veterinarian injects a microchip the size of a grain of rice under your kitten’s skin. It’s like we get shot, said the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

How can I save on kitten expenses?

There are several ways to reduce the cost of raising a kitten:

Adopt instead of buy

Choosing to adopt instead of buying a kitten from a breeder has the biggest impact on your initial expenses. Not only are adoption fees lower, they often include vaccinations and sometimes microchipping, spaying, and neutering.

Consider pet insurance

Veterinary services are the second largest item in first year expenses for kittens and there are ways to save here as well. Depending on the cost of veterinary services in your area, animal insurance may reduce your reimbursable expenses.

For example, a kitten insurance plans fully cover the cost of wellness visits, vaccinations, and spaying or neutering surgery. So if you’re still responsible for all that care, consider comparing what you’d pay for an insurance plan versus what you’d pay directly out of your wallet.

RELATED: Is pet insurance really worth the cost?

Find Veterinary Services at Discounted Prices

Another alternative is to search Veterinary Services on Sale offered by animal shelters and non-profit organizations. These clinics offer free or reduced price vaccinations, sterilization and microchipping.

Buy pet equipment on sale

The last, and perhaps easiest, place to save money is on pet equipment. Along with shopping at dollar-like discount stores for beds, bowls, toys and more, you can also adopt a few savvy shopping habits to get more bang for your buck, Woroch says. “For example, shop on sale and look for coupons before buying anything. You can also check out programs that offer cash back on pet purchases for future needs.”

With a little effort, you can make bringing home a kitten more affordable and ensure your new furry friend has the happiest, healthiest life.

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