Looking to add a cat to your family? Here’s how much cat owners spend on a lifetime of pet care

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Caring for a cat can cost more than you think.


Key points

  • Caring for a cat is a big responsibility and it will impact your personal finances.
  • Cat owners can spend upwards of $45,000 caring for their furry companions.
  • It’s a good idea to get pet insurance and build an emergency fund before adopting a new pet.

Pets can bring us joy and make our days better. But they are also a big responsibility and require a lot of care and attention, which of course costs money. Thinking of bringing a cat into your home? You’ll want to consider the cost of maintaining a cat before buying one.

Cats are curious, affectionate, and intelligent creatures that are relatively self-sufficient. But your cat will have many needs to meet, which come at a cost. Expenses such as vet visits, food, medications and essentials can add up quickly.

Since your cat won’t be able to find a job (unless your cat is one of the lucky few Instagram stars to get sponsorships), you’ll need to get your finances in order. And it may cost more than you think to care for your new furry friend.

Lifetime expenses for cat care can exceed $45,000

So how much will it cost to care for a cat throughout its life? Each cat’s needs vary. Cat lifespans also vary, but it’s not uncommon for cats to live 13 to 18 years, with 15 being the average lifespan.

A Synchrony study looked at how much pet owners spend on lifetime pet care costs and how those costs differ for cats and dogs. They used 15 years as a benchmark to estimate lifetime costs.

The study found that the costs of keeping a cat for life range from $15,055 to $45,790. That’s a lot of money. For many people, it’s the cost of a car or a down payment on the house.

Most cat owners would agree that no matter the cost, it’s worth it. After all, seven out of 10 pet owners consider their pets family.

Many Pet Owners Are Unprepared For Unexpected Expenses

The same study looked at whether pet owners were prepared for the unexpected costs associated with owning a pet. It turns out that many are unprepared:

  • One in three pet owners will face an unexpected expense that will cause financial stress.
  • 21% of pet owners would be stressed by an unexpected expense of $251 to $500.
  • 26% of pet owners would be stressed by an unexpected expense of $1,000 or more.

Three Ways to Prepare for High Pet Care Costs

If you’re considering getting a new pet, or have pets but don’t have a lot of cash to spare, there are steps you can take to prepare for future pet-sitting expenses and surprise vet bills.

These tips can help you prepare for high pet sitting costs:

  1. Invest in pet insurance. If you are buying a new pet, research the cost of pet insurance and compare policies. This coverage could help protect you against high costs associated with common medical needs and more serious health conditions.
  2. Set aside savings in a pet fund. As you are likely preparing for life’s emergencies, you need to be financially prepared for potential pet emergencies. Opening a separate savings account to save on pet expenses is an easy way to prepare before a surprise vet bill hits you.
  3. Have a backup plan. Sometimes pet sitting costs are way more than the average pet owner can afford. Fortunately, financial solutions exist. It’s a good idea to research financing options for pet sitting expenses in case a costly expense arises.

A cat can be the perfect family member. Choosing to have a cat can improve your life while giving an adorable furry friend a much-needed home. But before you bring your new pal home, consider the financial implications of owning a pet. Your cat deserves all the love, attention and care it can get.

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