Cats can bring some of the greatest joys in life. They’re comforting household companions and can often take care of themselves, but unfortunately, we’re still responsible for the associated costs with cat ownership. On average, new cat owners in America pay $1,726 in the first year, and some residents will pay up to $2,820. We’ve divided average cat ownership costs by food, pet insurance, vet visits, vaccines, and neutering/spaying for each state. Read more for details and what to expect with costs for your cat.
- Delaware cat owners pay nearly $2,820 in cat ownership expenses–the most in the United States.
- Residents in Idaho, the cheapest state for cat owners, pay around $1,233.
- Likewise, Delaware and Idaho are the most expensive and inexpensive states for cat food/litter ($1,837 compared to $331).
Cost of Cat Food & Litter
Felines have particular palates, and premium cat food isn’t cheap for some American states. Annual cat food expenses range from about $100 in Idaho to over $1,600 in Delaware. Cat owners have access to hundreds of food brands, and some may cost more because of specialty ingredients, disease protection, or weight control. There are multiple types of cat food, and owners can opt to feed their cats dry, moist, or wet food. Cat foods that use real meat as a primary ingredient or include a specified dietary mix will cost more than standard kibble. Additionally, cat owners can buy pet food online or subscribe to a shipment plan.
Kitty litter comes in several varieties, and cats may prefer some to others. A traditional clay-based litter usually won’t cost as much as crystal-based/silica litter, and some newer types eliminate odor or minimize dust, like clumping/scooping litter. Generally, Americans pay nearly $230 a year for kitty litter–and this can increase with multiple cats and litterboxes. Of course, outdoor cats can minimize the cost of litter if they prefer dirt, and some cats may like sand in their litter box.
Cost of Pet Insurance
Pet insurance costs will vary depending on the state, and it’s reasonable to expect yearly premiums between $232-$383. Cat breed and coverage options may also affect insurance costs, like regular health insurance, and comprehensive plans may run higher. Typically, pet insurance plans can cover:
- Accidents and injuries
- Chronic or common illnesses
- Serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and leukemia
- Hereditary conditions such as eye and blood disorders
- Testing and diagnostics
- Procedures such as surgeries, hospitalizations, nursing care, endoscopies, and chemotherapy
- Holistic and alternative procedures such as acupuncture, chiropractic, and laser therapy
- Vaccinations, flea/heartworm, and spay/neuter operations
- Behavioral therapy
Some plans may insure all of these examples, or you may opt only to cover a selection of services. In addition, pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions, grooming, food, dietary supplements, or other treatments considered non-veterinary. Nonetheless, pet insurance can help with long-term vet expenses, and it may comfort owners who want to prepare for accidents or unforeseen emergencies. In other cases, sometimes we need our pet for emotional support. Pettable makes it easy to connect with a licensed professional who can write an ESA letter. See if you qualify in just a few steps.
Cost of Vet Visits
Routine annual check-ups typically aren’t expensive and can help identify health issues cats may not show. Even without pet insurance, Americans pay between $51 to $77 for routine vet visits. However, the visit may cost substantially more for complex operations or emergencies, especially in after-hours animal hospitals. Responsible pet owners should always take their pets to the vet to provide preventive health care, and it typically won’t break the bank for routine visits.
Cats are relatively low maintenance and typically don’t require trips to the groomer, unlike some dog breeds. Cats naturally clean themselves, but it may help to brush their coat every so often to help with shedding. Besides routine annual exams, emergency visits, and flea medication, cats typically don’t require additional services.
Cost of Vaccines
On average, it costs cat owners $155 for a set of vaccines. The recommended cat vaccines can protect against various illnesses, both for the cat and owner, and some may only require one dose. These vaccines can include:
- Bordetella - for bacterial infections and cats that live in overcrowded areas
- Chlamydia - protects against the infectious disease which can cause eye and respiratory issues
- Feline leukemia (Felv) - one of the most severe illnesses for cats that can cause multiple health complications
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) - only 1%-5% of cats become infected, but it’s the equivalent of HIV for cats.
- Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) - affects young cats and is the leading cause of death in kittens
- Rabies - protects against infected animal bites that cause the disease
Cost of Neutering or Spaying
Typically, it costs Americans between $265-$460 to spay/neuter their cats. Not all pet owners may decide to spay/neuter, and there are a few reasons why it makes sense to leave your cat intact. For example, a cat breeder may choose to spay/neuter a few years into the cat’s life, or some owners may have concerns over the lasting health effects. However, most pet owners decide to spay/neuter, and most kennels only accept spayed/neutered cats to prevent accidental kittens.
For specific concerns with spaying or neutering, it’s best to speak with a vet. Some cat breeds may have risks with the procedure, or it’s possible to delay it until later in the cat’s life.
Cost Breakdown by State
We compiled and analyzed various data sets relevant to the cost of cat ownership in every state. The sources we looked at are:
Epic Pet Club: How Much Cat Litter Per Month? Here’s The Exact Answer - We took the median cost of the monthly range given ($17-$21 per month), then multiplied that answer by 12 to get the yearly cost of cat litter.
Pawlicy Advisor: Average Pet Insurance Cost in 2021 by Breed, Age, & State
Banfield Pet Hospital: Price Estimator
We looked at the cost of vet visits and vaccines for the most populated zipcode in each state, according to 24/7 Wall St.
We combined the cost of individual vaccines to get a total vaccine cost. The vaccines we looked at were:
- Bivalent Influenza
- Lyme Disease
For states where the price estimator had no information, we substituted the costs with the average from all other states combined. The states where no information was found are:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Pick Pet Vacuum: Here’s How Much Pet Owners Spend On Pet Foods In Each US State - We multiplied the monthly cost of food by 12 to get the yearly average cost.