Update 2022: With the cost of living crisis currently gripping the UK, the RSPCA is reporting that a significant number of pet owners are bringing them in for adoption as they can’t afford to keep them. But how much does it cost to own a cat for its entire life?
A quick browse through Google reveals several websites claiming it can cost tens of thousands of pounds to keep a cat for its entire lifetime.
It should be no surprise that many of the companies making these claims are also insurance firms trying to sell you policies that can protect you from hefty vet bills. The higher the perceived lifetime cost, the more attractive their policies appear.
So, let’s now cut out the biased and self-serving nonsense and get straight to the figures.
This page is part of our series of guides into the costs you can expect to incur when owning pets in the UK.
While no two cats are the same, we think our guide is a good starting point and is perfect for those of you that have never owned a pet before.
On this page, we’ll cover these prices:
- the typical cost to buy a cat
- initial vaccines and immunisation
- booster vaccines
- pet insurance and vet bills for your cat
- ongoing worm and flea treatments
- spaying and neutering
- the Pet Passport, rabies jab and microchipping
- equipment such as carry cages, sleeping beds, bowls and toys
- food including special food diet
- cattery fees
But, before you read any further…
Can You Answer This One Question?
We are conducting research into how much people in the UK think it will cost to own a pet.
This poll is entirely optional, you can skip it if you wish:
Cost to Buy a Cat
The RSPCA charge around £80 to rehome a cat (but depends on the centre), sometimes a little less for older animals and they usually have plenty of cats to choose from too.
Purchased privately, your cat will cost anything from £200 up to £1000, it all depends on the breed where you source your pet from.
Vaccines and Immunisation
Cats require vaccines so they build an immunity to common illnesses and diseases.
This page contains detailed information about feline vaccines including a schedule and a price guide.
You’ll be looking at around £75 for the initial kitten vaccines.
Vaccines and immunisations don’t last forever.
In the past, vets recommended “booster” vaccine jabs every year.
More recently, experts have begun to question the need for such frequent injections.
While the debate is ongoing, most cat owners will give their pet a booster every one to three years.
Our research revealed the average cost of a booster jab to be £41.
Average Cat Insurance Cost
This is the big one.
But if you decide you don’t want insurance, you could get a nasty surprise should your cat require expensive surgery, X-rays, medicine, follow up treatments or overnight stays with the vet.
There are two types of pet insurance:
- accident cover
- veterinary cost cover
As accident cover is very limited and has so many caveats, we think veterinary cost cover is your best option:
Basic kitten insurance is affordable at around £11 a month for a crossbreed.
Unfortunately, the price goes up as the cat gets older.
For a middle-aged feline friend, you’ll be paying around £12.50 per month.
As a cat reaches old age, from age 10 onwards, the price skyrockets to around £16 a month.
We think the cost to insure your pet cat throughout its entire life to be around £1900 in today’s money. That’s for basic limited vet cover.
The prices above are averages and were sourced in April 2022 from several insurance providers.
Do consider that the average age of a domestic cat is between 12- 16 years but the oldest recorded cat in the UK lived to the ripe old age of 31.
We cannot estimate the cost of policy excess charges and for vet work that isn’t covered by insurance, but there will certainly be some additional charges.
Worming and Flea Treatments
Cats are known for their cleanliness and they spend up to 50% of their waking hours grooming and cleaning themselves.
However, your feline friend will need a little help along the way.
Tapeworms and roundworms affect both dogs and cats, they can lead to infections, weight loss and vomiting.
Kittens should be fed deworming tablets every month while cats older than 6 months will need to take them every 3 months.
Flea, lice and tick treatments come in various forms, from flea collars and droplets to fine combs and specialist shampoos.
This page provides you with an idea of how much these treatments cost.
We think you’ll pay at least £11 per month.
Cat Spaying and Neutering Cost
Castration is a surgical procedure which stops a female cat from becoming pregnant and a male cat from getting a female pregnant.
For female cats, this is known as spaying.
For male cats, it’s referred to as neutering.
The cost is often based on the size of the animal, large dogs can cost upwards of £225 while for cats it’s usually around £80 – £100.
The Pet Passport, Rabies Jab and Microchipping
Update: UK-issued pet passports are no longer valid in the EU, cat owners will need to purchase an animal health certificate and that can only be issued by a government-approved vet who will check that your pet has a microchip, up-to-date rabies jab and recent tapeworm treatment.
The cost of an animal health certificate varies but most approved vets charge between £150 and £200. Expect to pay more if your pet needs booster jabs or other treatments.
There’s an almost endless amount of equipment you can buy for your cat:
- sleeping trays
- carry cage
- litter trays
- cat flaps
- scratching trees
- GPS trackers
- grooming equipment
Expect to pay anything from £200 to £300 to buy all the essentials, many of which will last for years.
Ongoing costs are mostly for cat litter and toys so expect to fork out around £25 per month.
This is another biggy.
Cats are terribly fussy eaters and the moment you choose to feed your cat an expensive treat will be the moment it expects this type of food at every mealtime.
Wet and dry cat food, including treats, can easily set you back £35 a month.
If your cat develops an allergy or illness, it may require a special diet that can easily double your monthly spend on food.
Not everyone uses the services of a kennel/cattery when they go away on holiday.
It depends on the pet owner’s circumstances, how often they travel and how long they stay away for.
We did some digging during April 2022 and asked 10 kennels/catteries how much they charge to look after a cat or dog for two weeks.
Here are the results of our research:
Cats – £12 per day.
Dogs – £22 per day.
You can expect to pay more for a luxury dog or cat “hotel”.
Based on our research we think the lifetime cost of owning a cat to be from £13,500.
We have not included the following:
- “lost and found” flyers and leaflets
- insurance excess costs
- vet fees not covered by insurance
- cremation fees
- cats that live considerably longer than the average expectancy
Add these to your bills and the true cost of keeping a pet cat is closer to £15,000.
What Are Others Saying About The Lifetime Cost to Keep a Cat?
The website Omlet suggests a price between £9000 – £14,000 depending on the amount of vet work needed and the quality of the food and equipment.
in 2011, Sainsbury’s claimed that the true cost of owning a cat is £19,000 over its entire life (reported by thisismoney), although their analysis may not be impartial as they also sell pet insurance.
A Nationwide Insurance survey revealed that 12 percent of people loved their pet more than their partner. It’s no surprise then, that according to the survey, cat owners spend up to £2455 on their pet in the first year alone.