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Owning a Cat on a Budget: 10 Vet-Recommended Savings Tips

Written by: Dr. Ashley Darby BVSc (Veterinarian)

Last Updated on May 16, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat sleeping on owners lap

Owning a Cat on a Budget: 10 Vet-Recommended Savings Tips


Dr. Ashley Darby Photo


Dr. Ashley Darby

Veterinarian, BVSc

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’re considering adopting a cat but are concerned about your budget, you sound like a very responsible prospective pet owner. Welcoming a cat into your family will bring companionship and fun into your life, but several responsibilities come with pet ownership.

Cats will cost around six hundred dollars a year at a minimum, but every owner should factor in emergencies and illnesses, which can happen unexpectedly, into their budget. A severe illness or surgery can cost a few thousand dollars in veterinary fees. There are ways to cut costs, and your cat doesn’t NEED the best of everything, but you don’t want to neglect their healthcare.

Read through the article to decide if cat ownership is something you can financially commit to. If so, you are ready to be a fantastic cat parent; if not, that’s okay. Now may not be the best time to purchase a cat. The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives to adopting a cat. You could visit a cat cafe every week and get to know the felines, or volunteer at an animal shelter and give the cats some much-needed love and attention.

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The 10 Tips for Owning a Cat on a Budget

1. Adopt Your Cat

If you’re getting a cat for the first time, adoptions are much more cost-efficient than purchasing a purebred cat. Adoption fees are usually between a few hundred dollars and over $1,000, while purebred cats can cost several thousand dollars. Adoptable cats are also usually spayed or neutered, microchipped, and up-to-date on their vaccines.

It’s unfortunate that animal shelters and rescues are often at full capacity with the number of cats they have. So, if you don’t have any specific preferences on the type of cat you want, adoption is an excellent way to bring a cat home.

cat inside a cage
Image Credit: Mimzy, Pixabay

2. Research Budget-Friendly Cat Food

While premium cat food has some benefits, lower-cost pet foods are adequate for most cats. The food you select must be approved by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to ensure that it has all the nutrients your cat needs and nothing harmful.

Dry food is usually the most cost-effective type of food. You can also find some middle-of-the-range cat foods with quality ingredients. Do a bit of research and find something that suits you before bringing the cat home.

Having said all this, some cats will have or develop health conditions that necessitate a specialized diet. Prescription diets are expensive but essential in managing medical conditions like kidney disease, bladder stones, and food allergies. You can ask about medical conditions before adopting the cat, but it’s not guaranteed that nothing will develop in the future. The best way to look at prescription diets is to consider them a veterinary expense.

3. Exercise Your Cats

A healthy exercise routine can help keep your cat healthy and reduce veterinary expenses. Incorporating exercise into your cat’s daily routine will help them strengthen their muscles and maintain a healthy body weight.

Preventing excessive weight gain and obesity will lower the risk of your cat experiencing other health issues, such as diabetes, joint disease, and lower urinary tract disease. Remember that exercise is only part of maintaining a healthy body weight, and portion control is extremely important.

Exercise and games that replicate a cat’s natural hunting instincts also benefit a cat’s mental health. They provide mental stimulation and prevent boredom, which can significantly lower the risk of anxiety and other behavioral disorders. Exercise is not much of a financial investment but a time investment, which is worth it at the end of the day.

Domestic cat outdoor
Image Credit: Ralphs_Fotos, Pexels

4. Pay Attention to Preventative Care

While preventative care won’t guarantee a long lifespan, it plays a significant role in keeping cats healthy. Investing in preventative care throughout your cat’s life can prevent potentially life-threatening and expensive conditions.

Preventative care encompasses measures taken to prevent illnesses. Vaccinations and parasite prevention will be discussed at your routine veterinary appointments, as well as weight control and diet. Dental care is an excellent example of preventative care that can be done at home.

Teeth brushing, dental treats, and other products aimed at preventing tartar accumulation will help keep their teeth healthy, potentially reducing the need for professional dental cleaning and extractions due to periodontal disease.

Make sure to find a veterinarian with whom you can communicate easily, and try not to skip your cat’s routine veterinary appointments. Stick to your cat’s vaccine schedules and ensure that your cat is taking all their routine medication, like flea and tick medicine, on time.

5. Set Up a Cat-Friendly Environment

A cat-friendly home will keep your pet safe and out of harm’s way. Outdoor cats are at more risk for infectious diseases, toxin ingestion, and road traffic accidents, so consider keeping your cat inside. A catio is a great way for cats to enjoy the outdoors with minimal risk.

Comfy beds, hiding places, and elevated areas will also help your cat feel safe and secure.

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Provide some scratching areas, toys, or even feline TV/music for enrichment.

Keeping your cat happy improves their welfare and reduces potentially expensive stress-related conditions like feline idiopathic cystitis, an inflammatory bladder condition that can lead to a urinary obstruction.

It can also prevent destructive behaviors like inappropriate scratching and urination, which can lead to expenses involving cleaning and replacing furniture.

Keeping the litter box hygienic and clean will keep them comfortable using the bathroom.

There are lots of benefits to having a cat, but dealing with bad smells isn't one of them.

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Effective litter additives like Hepper's Advanced Bio-Enzyme Cat Litter Deodorizer can help you keep your home odor-free without having to do a lot of cleaning. This deodorizer is biodegradable, fragrance-free, and effective on everything from litter boxes to cat carriers.

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

6. Get Pet Insurance

Does the day-to-day expense of cat care sound manageable, but you’re concerned about emergency veterinary fees? Pet insurance can be a great tool to factor into your budget. Pet insurance covers different services depending on your level of coverage.

Basic packages reimburse you for a percentage of the cost of accidents or common illnesses. Other packages can cover serious long-term ailments and routine health care.

Before you bring your cat home, look into pet insurance packages and ensure you understand what you are covered for, how the reimbursement works, and the yearly cost involved.

7. Enroll in Subscription Services

Once you find cat products you like and use continuously, you may want to start looking into subscription options. Online pet supply retailers often offer savings opportunities through auto-shipment programs. These programs will set up recurring shipments to your address and apply a discount on all the items included in the shipment.

You can also find subscription services for cat food, litter, and toys. Many of these services offer good deals, and if you remain a long-time subscriber, you’ll start to see savings.

8. Subscribe to Your Favorite Cat Products

Many cat supply brands have email subscriptions and free member rewards programs. Subscribing to your favorite brands’ email lists doesn’t hurt because they’ll often email you discounts and special sales dates.

Some brands have rewards programs that apply points to every purchase. Once you accumulate a certain amount, these points can give you store credit or other bonuses.

Cute kitten playing toy
Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

9. Groom at Home

Professional grooming for cats can include just a nail clip or a trip to the vet for sedation and clipping the fur for matted long-haired cats. Grooming at home can save money and keep your pet comfortable and clean.

As soon as your cat has settled in at home, begin desensitizing them to handling, brushing, and nail trimming. A nail trim every few weeks and weekly brushing will keep short-haired cats comfortable.

Long-haired cats need daily brushing to keep them free of mats and furballs.

If you are looking for recommendations on the best cat brush and nail clippers for at-home grooming, check out Hepper's Cat Brush and Cat Nail Clipper Set. With the help of these great tools, grooming sessions will be easier and more enjoyable for both you and your cat.

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Hepper Cat Nail Clipper Kit - Small and Large...
Hepper Deshedding Cat Brush For Shedding Your Cat...
Hepper Cat Nail Clipper Kit - Small and Large...
Professional or home use
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Hepper Deshedding Cat Brush For Shedding Your Cat...
Hepper Deshedding Cat Brush For Shedding Your Cat...
Professional or home use
For cats of all ages
Easy cleaning
Comfortable grip
Hepper Cat Nail Clipper Kit - Small and Large...
Hepper Cat Nail Clipper Kit - Small and Large...
Professional or home use
For cats of all ages
Easy cleaning
Comfortable grip

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

Most cats are great at grooming themselves and rarely need a bath; however, cat wipes can keep them smelling fresh and clean.

10. Make Your Own Cat Toys and Furniture

The cost of cat toys and furniture can add up quickly. However, you don’t need to spend that much money on creating a fun and enriching home environment for your cat. There are plenty of low-cost DIY cat furniture, catios, and toy projects that you can make to reduce costs.

They also come in varying experience levels, and you can find many beginner-friendly cat furniture projects. So, with a little time and effort, you can create a cool living space for your cat that’ll keep them happy and healthy.

Looking for toys that cater to the many needs of your cat? The Hepper Hi-lo Cat Scratcher is one of our favorite cat products. Its clever thee-angle design offers multiple ways for your cat to climb, stretch, and exercise. Made of a sturdy plywood base and a replacement cardboard insert, this scratcher is an option that can be enjoyed by cats for years to come. If your cat requires a little encouragement for self-play, the Hepper Plush Mouse Kicker is a fantastic choice. Equipped with bite and kick-resistant fabric, an enticing internal bell, and organic catnip, cats can satisfy their natural prey instincts while getting the physical activity they need to thrive. 

Hepper Mouse kicker toy white cat playing on a scratching postscratcher
Hepper Plush Mouse Kicker Toy Hepper Hi-Lo Scratcher
Multi-level play
Multi-level play:
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Interactive :
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Replaceable parts
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At Catster, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!


divider 2 cats


Not everyone can afford a cat, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the company of felines at a rescue organization or cat cafe. It is possible to own a cat on a budget if you can afford the basics. Don’t blow your budget on the purchase of a purebred kitten. Look for ways to save on food and pet insurance.

You can also save money by subscribing to your favorite cat brands or enrolling in product auto-ship schedules. Don’t forget about the long game and invest in your cat’s preventative care and general health.

A happy and healthy cat is less likely to develop severe health issues that can lead to expensive medical bills. So, make sure to stay on top of your cat’s health and don’t skip their veterinarian appointments.

Featured Image Credit: Karpova, Shutterstock

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