Buying a pet of any kind is an exciting, heart-warming event. But pausing to consider the time and financial costs before your new furry housemate arrives can save a lot of stress. It’s not just about money- kittens require training, ongoing attention and playtime, so If you’re short on time or energy, an adult cat is usually a better option. Cats live for around 12-20 years depending on their health and environment and can impact your ability to rent properties, so you’ll need to think about the future before you buy or adopt.
How much does it cost to buy a kitten?
The total upfront costs of adopting a kitten range between $1,175 and $3,950, with both upfront and ongoing costs increasing if you shop instead of adopting a rescue kitten.
According to the RSPCA..
it costs around $200 to adopt a kitten (though in peak breeding seasons, this may be lessened), and anywhere from $200-$2000 to buy a kitten from breeders and stores.
While boutique cats are beautiful, they can require additional veterinary support, as selective breeding can cause health issues. Flat-faced cats, for example, often have ongoing breathing difficulties. Research your preferred breed carefully to ensure a better understanding of the common health and behavioural issues, and always ask about issues with the specific kitten you’re thinking of adopting. Check out the RSPCA website for advice on safe buying practices.
What initial costs are involved?
Medical and safety costs
The RSPCA generally desexes animals prior to adoption, whereas you’ll often need to pay for desexing if you buy a kitten from a store or breeder. Other upfront medical costs can include flea and worm treatments, vaccinations, microchipping, and with desexing, these costs range from $445-$660.
A collar (from $5) and tag etched with contact details (from $8) are often requirements of pet registration, and useful in cases of accidental escape. While temporary cardboard versions are available, a cat carrier (from $30) is a safe way of transporting your kitten to vet appointments and makes cleaning easier if they get carsick.
Each region has its own registration rules and expenses, with costs ranging between $30 and $190 annually. Some areas require cats to be strictly indoors only, though others will allow cats to spend time outside either leashed or within cat runs or enclosures. These enclosures are designed to allow enough room for cats to play safely and need to be weather appropriate and sturdy enough to stop accidental escapes. Leashes start at $15 dollars, with humane sized cat enclosures starting at $250. However, with enough mental stimulation, cats can easily adapt to staying indoors.
Food and water bowls (prices ranging from $5 for basic bowls to $200 for water fountains) are important, though a mat for beneath them (from $6) can make cleaning a little easier. Kittens require different foods to their adult counterparts, and while cheaper foods are freely available in supermarkets, pet food is not a regulated industry, and cheaper options can sometimes have medical consequences. Researching your pet’s food will ensure they have the best access to nutrients to minimise illness and vet trips. Generally, though, the ideal kitten foods cost around $20-45 for a 2.5kg bag of dry food, and $18-30 for 12 wet food pouches.
Certain breeds will require different diets, so due diligence before adoption will likely prevent a frantic vet trip later on.
Treats (starting at $4 a packet) can also be used to reward positive behaviours.
Toileting requires at least one tray (prices range from $7-$60), and kitty litter ($7-$30 depending on the size and type). Cats can be sensitive to the texture of litters, so it may take a few tries to find the right sort for your cat. Tray liners ($5-$15 a packet) can be useful, though some cats will destroy them given the chance, and many cat owners suggest a mat below the tray to catch stray pieces of litter, with prices starting at $6.
Toys and mental stimulation
An often unexpected cost of kitten adoption lies in the training period. During this time you’ll be teaching them where to go to the toilet, but also not to use the couch as a scratching post or knock things off of tables and shelves. These are behaviours that may return in later life if the cat doesn’t have enough social or mental stimulation.
Toys and scratching devices are vital to protect furniture and sanity. For some cats, a long piece of ribbon is the preferred toy, but there is a range of toys, ranging from $3 into the hundreds that can be used. Scratching items, starting at $15, allow your cat to shorten their claws, and for those with a little more space, scratching elements can be a part of cat hides and forts. With prices starting at around $60, these give your new kitten a high vantage point away from valuables, areas to climb and hide, and depending on the model, scratching and toy elements.
What are the ongoing expenses?
Ongoing costs should always be considered. Toys will wear out, food and litter will need to be replaced, monthly flea and worming doses (around $10-20 a month) and yearly vaccinations (from $150) are important. As with humans, medical costs will increase as your cat ages. Many vets have payment plans that allow you to pay a monthly amount so there are fewer upfront expenses should your new family member have health issues. For example, Greencross Vets has the Health Pets Plus initiative, which charges around $40 a month and allows for unlimited vet visits, free yearly vaccinations, and discounted medical treatments.
Like preventative health initiatives, pet insurance can be a useful way to minimise financial stress if your kitten gets sick. Contemplating pet insurance? We’ve got all you need to know at right here.
Though a kitten is serious financial decision, there are numerous health benefits associated in sharing your home with a cat, and a little research will help you minimise financial surprises.
At Oiyo, our mission is to provide Australians with the helpful information they need to make informed decisions.
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Oiyo is a consolidated online resource, we are not financial advisors. We work with a range of industry professionals and compliance check our articles to ensure factual accuracy. However, we do not provide professional financial advice. Consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the information and ideas presented in this article relate to your unique circumstances.