Cats are among the most popular pets in the world, including Australia, as around 27% of Australian households contain one or two feline friends. These cats range from pedigree and designer breeds that can cost a few hundred or a few thousand Australian dollars to purchase or mixed breeds that can be found at the local shelter.
Even in Australia, though, the cost of owning a cat doesn’t just include the initial purchase price or adoption fee. You also have to consider the cost of your new cat’s ongoing care. Since keeping track of everything that you need to budget for can be a challenge, we created this guide to explore the costs of owning a cat in Australia.
All prices are in AUD. We also included a few tips on how you can keep a cat even if you have a tight budget.
Bringing Home a New Cat: One-Time Costs
When you get your first cat, you must think about the cost of the supplies that you’ll need to keep them happy and healthy. If you have a cat already, you might already have things that your new family member can benefit from, but first-timers will need to start from scratch.
It is possible to find a cat for free. Maybe your neighbour or a friend can’t afford to keep their cat and asked you to take them in, or perhaps you found a stray kitten under your shed. You might even find someone giving away kittens simply because they need forever homes.
There is a downside to free kittens, though. While you don’t have to worry about a purchase price, you’ll have to budget for veterinary visits, vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and any flea, tick, or deworming treatments.
Although you might assume that getting a cat for free is the cheapest option, adopting one from a shelter is usually more budget-friendly in the long run. You’ll have to pay an adoption fee that can range between $100 and $500, but you won’t have to pay for vaccinations or spaying and neutering. Both of these costs are covered by the shelter itself while the cat is at the facility, along with flea and tick removal and deworming.
It’s also why there’s an adoption fee in the first place.
If you’ve got your heart set on a pedigree or designer breed, a breeder is the way to go. That said, visiting a breeder is the most expensive way of welcoming a cat into your home. It’s also the most time-consuming because you’ll have to research the breeder and make sure they’re trustworthy.
Less-reputable breeders will cut corners when it comes to caring for their cats, which can lead to unhealthy animals. A trustworthy breeder will prioritize the health of their cats and supply pedigree papers and detailed health histories for each kitten.
Initial Setup and Supplies
Depending on how frugal you are with your initial setup costs—or how much you want to spoil your cat—preparing your home can vary in cost. Remember that if you get a free kitten, you’ll have to pay for vaccinations, a health check to make sure they’re not sick, and any initial flea-and-tick treatments.
In comparison, an adopted cat from a shelter may only require you to buy basic supplies, such as a collar, microchip, food and water bowls, and toys. Here’s a rundown of the common expenses when you first welcome your cat home.
List of Cat Care Supplies and Costs
|ID Tag and Collar
|Nail Clipper (optional)
|Food and Water Bowls
How Much Does a Cat Cost Per Month?
- $90–$1,400 per month
Cat ownership comes with a great deal of responsibility and it’s not just the one-time costs that you need to worry about. There are ongoing monthly costs to meet too, such as food and flea-and-tick prevention. Depending on your cat’s health, you might also need to purchase medication to treat or manage their condition.
Some months might require you to spend more on your cat than usual, especially if you need to visit a veterinarian at any point.
- $0–$450 per month
Many cats require you to keep up with ongoing medication for their healthcare. This is particularly important if you adopt an adult or senior cat from a shelter. They may have ended up in the shelter in the first place because their previous owners couldn’t afford to properly treat their health issues.
When you adopt a cat with ongoing healthcare needs, the responsibility falls on you to ensure that they’re as healthy as possible.
- $20–$100 per month
Beyond veterinary visits, cat food is the biggest reoccurring expense related to cat ownership. Whether you prefer a dry, wet, or raw food diet for your cat, you’ll find yourself buying a large amount of food throughout your cat’s lifetime. While you can purchase cheaper brands that meet AAFCO standards for cat nutrition, spending more on high-quality food will ensure that your cat has a much healthier, balanced diet.
Some cats will also benefit from specialized diets depending on their age and if they have any health issues.
- $0–$160 per month
Many cat owners handle their pet’s grooming needs at home, which keeps the costs low because you don’t need to pay a professional groomer. Sometimes it’s nice to spoil your cat with a proper spa session, though.
How much you pay for grooming depends on how often you visit a professional groomer and their prices. It’ll also depend on what you ask the groomer to do, whether you just want your cat’s claws clipped or their fur brushed or the full spa treatment.
Medications and Vet Visits
- $40–$450 per month
The healthier your cat is, the less likely that you’ll need to visit the vet frequently. However, you might need to visit the clinic more often if your cat is being treated for a health issue. This goes for medication too. If they’ve been prescribed medicine for their health, you’ll need to pay for the prescription until they’re cured or for the rest of their life.
Fortunately, most cats don’t require prescription medication. In this case, your monthly medication expenses will likely be flea-and-tick prevention and deworming tablets.
- $20–$60 per month
If you decide that pet insurance is the right choice for you, it’ll help you save money when it comes to unexpected veterinary bills but will require a monthly cost. Older cats are generally more expensive than kittens, but the price can also depend on the annual coverage, deductible, and reimbursement rate.
Some policy providers also have optional add-on packages, such as wellness care, which will cover routine veterinary visits for an additional cost.
- $15–$100 per month
Like food, environmental maintenance is a necessary monthly expense. Many of the supplies that you need to keep your cat happy must be restocked frequently. Litter, for example, is an important necessity and can range in price depending on the brand that you choose and the type that you prefer.
If you prefer to use disposable litter trays, you’ll have to restock often to make sure your cat always has somewhere to do their business.
|Litter Box Liners
|$15–$30 per month
|Disposable Litter Trays (optional)
|$32–$55 per month
|$15–$45 per month
|$15–$70 per month
- $0–$65 per month
Although they can seem aloof and prone to lazing about all day, cats need entertainment too, especially if they’re not allowed outside. Providing toys, cat trees, tunnels, and scratching posts can help prevent boredom and save your furniture from destructive behavior.
Many of these supplies don’t require replacement every month, especially if you make sure to purchase items for their quality and durability. However, some toys do fall apart quickly as your cat is playing with them and will need replacing more often.
One of the best ways to supply your cat with plenty of toys is with monthly subscription boxes. These contain all sorts of treats, toys, and other goodies that your cat is bound to love.
Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Cat
- $90–$1,400 per month
With all the monthly costs alongside their initial purchase price, cats can be incredibly expensive. Food, entertainment, medication, and environmental maintenance are all essential monthly expenses that can’t be avoided and are the minimum supplies that you need to budget for.
Some expenses, like pet insurance and professional grooming, are optional and depend on whether you decide they’re necessary for you and your cat.
Additional Costs to Factor In
We covered most of the expected costs for caring for a cat in Australia, so here are a few additional expenses that you might not think of at first.
Every so often, it’s nice to take a relaxing vacation away from everything. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to take your cat with you. If you don’t have friends who can help, you’ll need to hire a pet sitter or a cattery to take care of your cat while you’re away.
If your cat gets injured or encounters a venomous snake, an emergency trip to the vet is in order. These expenses are never easy to budget for and are part of the reason that pet insurance is useful.
Cats can be destructive, especially when they use their claws. Repairing the damage to scratched-up furniture is another cost that you will need to budget for.
Owning a Cat On a Budget
Despite how expensive cats might seem at first glance, you can still own one even if your budget is tight. One budget-friendly option is to adopt your new family member from a shelter. Since the adoption fees cover vaccinations and spaying or neutering, you can avoid the full cost of these medical expenses.
There’s also no need to purchase the most expensive supplies. With a bit of dedicated research, you should be able to find high-quality litter or food brands that will suit your budget and still be suitable for your cat. You might also be able to find a local veterinary clinic with affordable rates.
Saving Money on Cat Care
Along with looking for budget-friendly ways to keep a cat, you can also save money by choosing the right supplies. Aim for quality over fanciness. While it’s tempting to choose the fanciest possessions to spoil your cat, the longer that the toys, cat tree, or bed last, the less likely you will have to replace them.
Also, consider learning how to groom your cat yourself. It means you’ll have to set aside time to do it, but you’ll save money on their grooming costs.
Owning a cat can be expensive, no matter where in the world you are. In Australia, the costs of owning a cat include the usual ones for food, medication, and toys, along with potential emergency vet visit expenses.
Fortunately for many pet owners who need to budget a little more, adoption is often the best way to own a cat without breaking the bank. While you might assume that finding a cat for free is the best choice, you’ll have to pay for their vaccinations and other health expenses—like spaying or neutering—yourself. In the long run, this can make free kittens more expensive than visiting a shelter.
The initial costs aren’t the only concerns to budget for, however. You can also keep costs low by choosing high-quality food and litter that suit your budget and toys that will last a long time. Grooming your cat at home can also save funds that you can put toward emergency vet bills.
Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock
- Bringing Home a New Cat: One-Time Costs
- How Much Does a Cat Cost Per Month?
- Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Cat
- Additional Costs to Factor In
- Owning a Cat On a Budget
- Saving Money on Cat Care