BEFORE YOU SAY YES TO CAT OWNERSHIP DO YOUR RESEARCH
We’ve all heard about the cat from hell stories but that still doesn’t deter us from falling in love with these cute felines.
Fun Fact: Did you know when your cat is 2 years old in human years your cat is 24 years old in cat years?
For every year after that, your cat lives in human years adds 4 cat years to their age. Amazing!
My Childhood Cat Responsibilities
Growing up my mom and dad had two tabby cats that I would help take care of.
My job was to make sure the water bowls were filled with clean water and that they were fed in the morning and evening.
Thankfully my parents took care of the kitty litter as I wasn’t prepared for that job as a child. Yuck!
Over the years I soon realized that I was allergic to cats as I would sneeze and get big bumps on my skin.
That was when I wanted nothing to do with cats apart from viewing them from afar.
Cats are cuddly, playful and boring at times depending on their personality as no two cats are alike.
Adopting My First Pet
As I ventured out on my own and bought my first house I decided to get a dog and he lived right up until our son was born in 2014.
I adopted him from a lady who was no longer able to care for him any longer and it wasn’t until the end where the vet bills started piling up.
He lived a good old life but looking back I would most certainly do more like a pet owner in terms of pet budgeting.
Although he may have cost us about $3000 in vet bills before he passed away had we not saved that money we would have been in a financial bind.
Our Son Wants To Adopt A Cat
I wanted to talk specifically about cat ownership in Canada today because our son wants a cat.
Actually, he doesn’t just want a cat he WANTS a cat and promises to take good care of him.
Of course, every kid says that, heck I said that although I had to do my chores or there were consequences.
We raise our son the same way so he understands the responsibility and he also earns an allowance for doing certain chores.
For the past two years going to and from school our son stops at a particular home up the road that has 6 cats.
Just for an idea about the costs of owning 6 cats, CBB fan Chantal shares her monthly costs.
Every cat situation differs so just because this is what she pays doesn’t mean you will but it’s a good indication.
I have 6 cats and a dog.
- 2 cat litter- $14 per week
- One big bag of every 3 weeks- $10 per week
- Various toys- $5 per month
- Vet bills and visits- I allow 100$ per year per animal
The cats are both indoor and outdoor cats which means they roam around whenever they are let out and come inside for the evening.
Our son has become quite attached to two of the cats one is a ginger and the other a tabby.
For the longest time, we had no idea the names of the cats so he just called them whatever he wanted.
The ginger was fluffy and the tabby was called kitty and that’s how we greeted them every day before and after school.
It wasn’t until two weeks ago when Mrs. CBB met the homeowner who was very happy to have our son on the property so see them.
He even went as far as to tell us the real names of their cats and so fluffy and kitty is no more.
Sitting on the ground petting and cuddling the homeowner’s cats is not an uncommon occurrence for our son.
Last week was when he started asking if we could get a cat to bring to our house.
It wasn’t his first rodeo with cats either as we’ve been to the pet store many times before.
He would sit in front of the cat cages and play with (annoy) the cats but never has wanted one until now.
Concerns Of Owning A Cat
Both my wife and I talked about cat ownership and we have a few concerns
- My Allergies
- Costs of owning a cat
- House cleanliness
Not all houses smell like a cat lives there but most do kind of like walking into a home where someone smokes inside.
You can just smell that as did we with our dog and we aren’t sure if we are prepared to go through that again.
The other thing was the dog hair and owning certain pets depending on the breed will almost always bring pet hair.
Perhaps it sounds selfish but not when you have a wife who struggles with always having a clean home, it’s tough.
I think since our son has come around things have changed but she’s concerned whether she can handle any pet smells in the home.
She did have to smell poopy diapers for 3 years so perhaps that might be the game-changer, lol.
Costs of Owning A Cat
There are both monthly costs and financial risks involved when owning a cat.
Owning a pet is a big financial risk and you must be prepared for the unexpected whether you have an indoor cat or an outdoor cat.
This is where I asked my Facebook readers to help me out because I knew they would have the answers we were looking for.
If you are contemplating adopting a cat or taking on a stray it’s important you consider various costs involved.
Perhaps you are already straining to make ends meet and your budget is tight but you might be able to fit some cat food in, don’t do it.
It’s not fair to the cat.
Owning a pet means you need to have a budget category for pets and a pet fund where you save up for emergencies throughout the year.
We budget a certain amount every year per pet to cover;
- Annual checkup
- Unexpected visits to the vet
We divide it into a monthly amount that gets transferred beginning of each month into a savings account earmarked “Pet Fund”.
You can treat your pet fund as a projected expense where you calculate estimated yearly costs and divide it monthly and save it in the bank.
When you need the money you won’t have to scramble for it because you’ll have it. Some years you might not use all of your pet funds but that’s ok because the following year you might need it all.
The key is to have a pet fund for those times where an emergency vet visit arises and they tell you what it will cost to help fix your family pet.
My two cats cost me $300 in food, litter and treats.
I also put away $50/month for vet/emergency expenses plus licenses per year of $60 for my three pets.
Costs of Cat Food and Supplies
When we owned our dog we used coupons any chance we could to buy his pet food as he wasn’t on any special diet.
Buying cat food from the vet may be recommended for your cat or perhaps you want to feed your cat high-quality cat food.
As Dana Lynn points out below she often finds buying cat food in the United States is far cheaper than buying it in Canada.
We have one cat:
- Litter, 18kg bag costs $9 (tax in) and lasts 6 weeks, so approx. $78/year.
- One time purchase of cat litter box, approx. $20.
- Food, we buy Royal Canin Indoor Adult cat food, 15 lb (6.81kg) bag costs $84 (tax in) and lasts 6 months, so $168/year.
Recently we found the same food across the border in Bellingham, Wa for less.
We live in Surrey, B.C. so it’s close for us.) for $45 USD, so with exchange the same 15 lb bag costs approx. $60 CAD, which is a savings of $24 for us.
It is strange that this cat food brand is made in Canada, but is cheaper to purchase in the U.S.?
We’ve had our cat for 10 years, and luckily (knock on wood) we’ve had minimal vet costs.
Maybe $400 total over 10 years for shots, check ups etc.
We got our cat from the Surrey SPCA, current adoption fees for kittens includes spaying/neutering and costs $244.
We paid a less (maybe $180) 10 years ago, so fees have increased over the years.
- Total yearly cost for our cat between food and litter: $246.
- If food is purchased in the U.S. total yearly cost is: $198.
Plus, we love to travel and do weekend getaways quite often, so a cat is easier to care for in terms of leaving alone for a few nights.
For cat supplies such as toys, beds and scratching poles you can always buy second-hand so have a look around second-hand shops.
Personally, I would buy a cat bed brand new but that’s just me.
Lots of cat owners suggested going to the Dollar store for deals on cat toys to keep costs low.
Importance of Cat Insurance
Do I Need To Buy Cat Insurance?
That’s up to you and whether you can afford it however it probably is a smart idea and one of the best companies to buy pet insurance from in Canada is Trupanian.
How does cat insurance work?
I had to do my research and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and Trupanian really does have it all.
Cat health insurance is simple with Trupanion.
You pay a monthly premium in order to be covered for any unexpected illnesses or injuries throughout your cat’s life.
Rest assured knowing Trupanion has your back. When you file a claim,we’ll cover 90% of eligible healthcare expenses for your cat. You are responsible for any non-eligible expenses, your deductible and the remaining 10%.
Trupanian also offers extra coverage as any insurance company does for occurrences not covered under their regular policy.
Trupanion also offers optional packages for additional coverage that may fit your lifestyle.
These packages can protect you from other unforeseen events or circumstances related to your cat, provide extra coverage for alternative and rehabilitative therapies, and add extra protection for breeding cats.
They come at an additional cost.
What is covered with Cat Insurance through Trupanian?
Ah, the question that everyone wants to know as a cat owner considering cat insurance.
What’s covered with Cat Insurance
- Illnesses & injuries
- Hereditary & congenital conditions
- Diagnostic tests
- Hospital stays
- Veterinary supplements
- Prosthetic devices & carts
But wait, What’s not covered under my cat insurance if I purchase it?
What’s not covered with Cat Insurance
- Exam fees
- Sales tax where applicable
- Wellness & preventive care
- Pre-existing conditions (an illness or condition which occurred or showed symptoms prior to your pet’s coverage effective date)
I recommend getting pet insurance we spend around $90 a month on 3 cats and a rabbit.
I also get my long hair cat groomed a few times a year that about $100 a time
How Much Does Your Cat Cost You?
Below you will read the feedback from many readers of Canadian Budget Binder who contributed their feedback for this post on the Costs of Owning a Cat in Canada.
Other than the food, expenses for our cats include deworming treatment, shots, flea and tick treatment and initially spaying and neutering.
We haven’t had any major health issues with either, but a visit to the vet for unexpected issues can cost hundreds.
I have 3 cats, one was adoption at $200 from a rescue shelter, 2 were abandoned without owners who we took in and paid vet bills right away.
- Litter @$13.00 with 2 litter boxes to fill and change weekly is $52.00 month
- Food is Iams at $9 a bag and lasts weekly, $36.00 (no special diet, our previous cat’s food was required vet food at $42.00/bag),
- Toys are fairly easy and can be bought a Dollar store $10 month
- Cat scratcher (climbable) $40.00 and 2 additional posts at $10 each
- Brushes, Pet nail clippers are reasonable and their pet bed I sewed myself.
Vet bills are typically starting at $300 for vaccinations spaying/neuter and checkup and can be $400 each visit when they get older as kidney and joint issues are typical.
We’ve never had pet insurance, our previous 3 wouldn’t have been covered for kidney failure due to age in the end, prior to that only one had vet visits for crystals in the urine, hence the $42 bags of vet food every week to maintain their health.
They lived until 17,18 and 19 years of age.
Buy Your Cat Grooming Tools
Our cat is part Maine Coon cat so she tends to be a big girl.
She got a little too big so now eats a special weight control cat food we get from the vets.
- $65 for a big bag that lasts Miss Molly roughly 2-1/2 months
We do the grooming of her long fur and clip the mats if one gets too big to comb out.
A metal comb for her was $15. and the clippers were around $70, one time fees there.
I have an indoor, 12 year old ragdoll cat.
She costs us;
- $100 a year for annual vet check and shots
- $15 per month for food
- $25 once every 6 weeks for litter
She came fixed from the breeder.
Costs of Feeding An Outdoor Cat
Cynthia Sunshine Biggs
- 1 outdoor fixed cat = $35 for outdoor cat shots/vet
- Food is $60 a year
I have had her 11 years after I found her dumped on my property.
I do the basics for her but nothing fancy. Not feral, but not a pet really either.
She’s $100 per year.
We have 2 cats and 2 dogs and we budget $5000/year for our pets.
Some years we have spent less than this, others more depend if you have any illnesses/accidents, etc that result in higher vet bills for them.
We had one year that just vet bills alone cost us the $5000.
The costs for them can really add up so you definitely need to plan and be prepared.
Questions To Ask Yourself Before Adopting A Cat
Katie has been a wealth of information as a cat owner sharing what questions you should ask before adopting a cat.
Grooming costs are also something to consider especially if you aren’t interested in doing the work yourself.
Like Christine, Weadick mentions she purchased her grooming tools for $70 that small upfront cost will certainly have returns.
Another reader mentioned that making a phone call to your local SPCA animal shelter or humane society to ask questions is a valuable resource.
Just remember, cats aren’t free and come with an adoption fee so make that be one of your first questions.
How much will it cost to adopt a cat?
However, be warned that if you do take on a cat for free from someone or a rescue cat that you will want the cat to be checked by a vet first.
The reason for this is because you may be taking on someone else’s vet bills if the cat is very ill.
How Far Are You Willing To Go As A Cat Owner?
There are so many things you need to consider especially added costs if your cat gets ill and needs medical supplies on a monthly basis as Katie points out below.
We have 2 shaded silver Persians.
They are both fixed, microchipped and they got all their first shots.
We don’t take them to the vet for yearly checkups, we will periodically.
I’ve taken in my cat to get shaved because her mats got really bad once so make sure to factor in any grooming costs.
We don’t do shots annually because we do not let them outside alone or even on the ground with us there.
A large bag of pretty high-quality dry food will last us I’ll say a month to a month and a half for both cats.
I think it’s about $60 a bag, but where we buy it there is a loyalty card for the brand we buy for every 10 bags you buy you get a free one, which is nice.
We use Temptations treats every day.
No pet insurance, for the number of problems we have with our cats its been cheaper to just save some money every month specifically for pet health.
Our one cat just last year developed kidney problems, so now there is the added expense every month of fluids/needles/syringes.
I should mention she is only 7 years old this year and she should live for about 14 years.
So really be prepared for unexpected situations and costs involved at the vet as I was not expecting this at all.
Be prepared to have picky eaters or if you have 2 of the same for one to eat something different from the other.
Also consider flavour preferences, dry vs wet vs raw food.
For future cats I will try and get them started on wet food, or raw food if I can, to try and avoid kidney problems.
Always have an emergency pet fund.
Contribute whatever you can every month, to be there to cover things you weren’t expecting.
This fund doesn’t pay for food, litter, or any everyday stuff.
Take advantage of sales whenever you can.
Also, food and water dishes, litter boxes, litter, puppy training pads (if you need them), and also take into account any extra things you may want to get for your pet (toys, beds, scratching posts, treehouses).
Leashes, collars, carriers, harnesses, grooming tools, etc.
You really have to ask yourself a lot of questions as to what kind of work you are willing to put in.
If you really wanna splurge for the extras that you don’t really need, if you want to give low quality food because its cheaper, etc.
With food, I understand you may feel like you can’t afford higher quality, but it will be worth it to make sure your pet is as healthy as they can be for as long as possible.
I have 3 cats and 2 dogs.
The cat food is $70 every 6 weeks or so, I also buy them the occasional wet formula.
None are on any medications thankfully but annual visits for them are between $150-$300 depending on what blood work they are due for that year (all are seniors now).
- Litter costs us $10 a week (Costco 22.5kgs)
They are indoor cats so I don’t have them on flea prevention but if I did that would be approx $300 a year for all of them.
Costs of Cat Urinary Tract Infection
We have 2 cats that we feed grain-free food (Acana, 40$).Both cats got a Urinary Tract Infection.
- Cat #1 stop pooping because he was constipated. 600$ to have an x-ray showing poop.
- Cat #2 got crystal in his bladder (untreated can kill). Xray, sedation and some other stuff to blast the crystals, 1700$.
- Cat #1 again got a crystal too. It was caught very early and we only got a bill of 200$.
- Both are now on Royal Canin Urinary food. (32$/2weeks).
This is plus the usual maintenance cost, like cat litter (10$/2week), yearly check-up, vaccination and the most important, spayed and neutered (130-170$, the price can vary).
Over the course of their lifetime (average of 15 years), my cats would have cost me at least 1 Hermès bag.
Effie Brenda Frank
I have two cats currently, have had dogs in the past too.
- I spend about $15-$20/m for food and litter and $200 for shots and a check-up annually.
Cat Ownership Costs Overview
Both my wife and I have learned quite a bit about adopting a cat and the costs involved.
Like owning any pet you have to remember that leaving for extended periods of time means you need to find animal support.
We often feed our neighbour’s cat when they jet off on vacation and don’t charge him but someone else might.
There are plenty of people who are willing to visit your cat, feed them, let them out and play for a flat daily fee.
I’d say around $20-25 is the going rate from our research on Kijiji and Marketplace for an hour’s work.
Not too bad if you ask me considering the costs of putting a dog in a kennel can cost far more.
I’ve been around cats the last few years without incident however I would still have to be checked to see if I am still allergic.
If the answer is yes then I’m afraid our little guy might have to consider a dog or perhaps a hamster.
So, we are still in talks about adopting a cat for our family and will see how far our son goes with wanting to take on this responsibility.
On the budgeting side we should be ok with the added expenses although if we don’t need to, we won’t bother.
Sometimes a special visit to the pet store is all a child desires or perhaps a walk to the neighbour’s for a visit with their cat will suffice.
Discussion: What other expenses or questions should someone consider when wanting to adopt a cat in Canada?
Please leave your comments below as I’d love your feedback.