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How Much Does a New Kitten Cost? Everything You Need to Budget for Your Kitty's First Year

Woman holding tiny kitten in her hands
Woman holding tiny kitten in her hands

Alex Photo / Adobe Stock

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. On This Page

    • What Is the Average Cost of a Kitten?

    • 6 Expenses That Impact How Much a Kitten Costs

    • How Can I Save on Kitten Expenses?

There's no doubt that kittens are cute: They purr, they pounce, and they cuddle like champs. And they're usually less pricey than dogs. But even if someone offers you one for free, there are still expenses that come with having a cat. If you're thinking about getting a new feline friend, it's essential you know how much a kitten costs, Andrea Woroch, a personal finance expert for Rover.com says. Understanding (and budgeting for) what you'll have to shell out to provide proper care is an essential part of pet parenthood.

What Is the Average Cost of a Kitten?

Infographic showing first year, annual, and lifetime average costs
Infographic showing first year, annual, and lifetime average costs

Corinne Mucha

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The average expense for kitten care ranges from as low as $600 to as much as $5,300. That means you can expect to budget $50 to $450 a month for that first year. Thereafter, cat parents spend around $300 to $3,000 each year or $25 to $250 a month.

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

6 Expenses That Impact How Much a Kitten Costs

1. Purchase or Adoption Fee

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

2. Health Checkups and Vaccinations

Like young children, kittens need vaccinations to boost their immunity and protect them from common diseases. More trips to the vet to get feline shots and wellness checks mean first-year veterinary expenses for kittens are higher than for adult cats, who typically just need annual checkups.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, kittens should receive four rounds of vaccinations beginning when they're six to eight weeks old and then every three to four weeks until four months of age. It's standard for kittens to get tested and treated for intestinal parasites (worms) too, says the Michigan Humane Society, because most kittens have them. The parasites are passed to offspring through their mother's blood during pregnancy and through her milk when they nurse.

3. Spay or Neuter Surgery

Kittens are ready for a spay or neuter procedure at around six months of age. Most pet parents opt for this because it prevents unwanted pregnancies, menstruation, and annoying behavior like yowling when cats go into heat. The cost of spay or neuter surgery can run up to $500, depending on the pricing at veterinary clinics near you.

4. Pet Gear

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

RELATED: How to Litter Train Your Kitten

5. Food

Many pet parents agonize over choosing the best kitten food and treats. For the first year, kittens need meals formulated to support their growing bodies. Though it's more expensive than adult cat food, chow that's made for kittens is a must—it has more nutrients and vitamins to support healthy growth. Other than that, picking the right food has more to do with your budget and what your kitten likes.

6. Microchipping

Think of microchipping your cat as a permanent identification (ID) tag. It reunites you with your furry pal if your cat gets lost. Even indoor-only cats can accidentally end up outdoors. 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 pal is.

The procedure is quick and simple—a veterinarian injects an electronic chip the size of a grain of rice under your kitten's skin. It just feels like getting a shot, says the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

How Can I Save on Kitten Expenses?

There are several ways you can cut the costs of raising a kitten:

Adopt Instead of Purchase

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

Consider Pet Insurance

Veterinary services are the next biggest item in first-year expenses for kittens and there are ways to save here as well. Depending on how expensive veterinary services are in your area, pet insurance may reduce your out-of-pocket fees.

For example, some kitten insurance plans fully cover the cost of wellness visits, vaccinations, and spay or neuter surgery. So if you're still on the hook for all of that care, consider comparing what you'd pay for an insurance plan versus straight out of your wallet.

RELATED: Is Pet Insurance Really Worth the Cost?

Find Discount Veterinary Services

Another alternative is to seek out discount veterinary services offered by shelters and non-profit animal organizations. These clinics provide free or discounted vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and microchipping.

Buy Pet Gear on Sale

The last, and perhaps easiest place, to save some coin is on pet gear. Besides shopping at dollar-type discount stores for pet beds, bowls, toys, and more, you can also adopt a few savvy shopping habits to get more bang for your buck, Woroch says. "For instance, shop sales and look for coupons before you buy anything. You can also look into programs that offer cash back on pet purchases to put toward future needs."

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