A woman kissing a gray kitten on a couch.
A woman kissing a gray kitten on a couch. Photography ©Wavebreakmedia | Thinkstock.

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Cat?

Wondering, "How much does it cost to adopt a cat?” Expenses for adopting a cat go beyond the initial adoption fee. Let’s break down some of the costs.


There are differing opinions in the animal welfare world on what the cost of a pet adoption should be. Some believe that waiving or severely reducing adoption fees diminishes the value of the animal or worse. Big adoption events where adoption fees are low cost or zero have come under scrutiny. Data refutes that pets who were “free” meant that they were placed in a substandard situation (or incur a higher return rate). However, these promotional events are usually short-lived. Subsequently, most cat parents should be financially prepared to pay an adoption fee and for the kitty’s ongoing care. So, how much does it cost to adopt a cat? Let’s break down some of the costs!

How much does it cost to adopt a cat? Initial adoption fees

A cat in a cage at a shelter.
How much does it cost to adopt a cat? There are a few different factors at play when it comes to initial adoption fees. Photography © ablokhin | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

How much does it cost to adopt a cat? The initial cost of adopting a cat from an animal welfare agency varies widely. The low end for an adult cat from a municipal shelter is about $25. However, a kitten from a breed rescue can run into the hundreds. It’s important to remember that the shelter adoption fee for one healthy young kitty can help offset the expense of cats with medical issues. (Potential adopters balk at a higher fee because the cat “hasn’t been there that long,” but it makes sense to have the highly desirable adoptable cats help the rescue save more lives!) Remember that adoption fees traditionally include spay or neuter, medical exams, parasite prevention and a microchip.

Even within an organization, the fees can vary. The Animal Care Centers of New York City (ACC) has the following cat adoption fees:

  • 6 months and under: $125
  • 7 months to 4 years: $75
  • 5 years and over: $25
  • 2 kittens: $150

“Our adoption fees are geared toward getting felines into the best homes,” says Luis Vazquez, adoption coordinator for ACC. “For youngsters, getting them placed together is great for their development — kittens need a lot of stimulation and having another kitten to play with enriches their lives — so fees for them reflect that to make it easier for pet parents to adopt two!”

The cost of ongoing care for cats

A cat getting adopted.
How much does it cost to adopt a cat — after the initial adoption fees? Photography by Denise LeBeau.

The next question after, “How much does it cost to adopt a cat?” is — how much does it cost for a cat’s ongoing care? Many rescues provide further assistance after the adoption to ensure the kitty is healthy. “We supply a certificate for the cat’s first physical for free,” Luis says. “And we commit up to $250 for any medical costs associated with shelter-borne illnesses such as upper respiratory disease — this can be used for medications and exams but not booster vaccinations.”

From a little nasal discharge to mysterious lumps, contacting the shelter from whence your kitty came can help get your pet the best and most affordable care. Many rescues like ACC either have formal veterinary policies or will work with adopters to ensure that the cats that they’ve adopted out stay healthy and happy.

Expenses like emergency vet care

The cost of emergency medical bills is another point to consider when thinking, “How much does it cost to adopt a cat?” These financial crises can be maneuvered via pet insurance. You can also check out ways to find affordable vet care and get help with vet bills.

One of the best ways to keep costs down is a safety-first approach: “Make your new charge an indoor-only cat,” says Gabby Stroup, shelter manager at North Fork Animal Welfare League. “This greatly reduces the risk of injury, illness and premature death.”

How much does it cost to adopt a cat? What to have on hand for your new cat

Cats getting adopted.
Remember that you need some cat gear on hand when you adopt a cat! Photography by Denise LeBeau.

Preparation is key to creating the perfect environment for your new kitty! When thinking, “How much does it cost to adopt a cat?” remember that you should have some of the basics purchased and ready to go before you adopt. Gabby shares the following new cat checklist for starters:

“Best practices to transition a new feline seamlessly into your home include providing consistency for optimum health and behavior,” says Gabby. “Make sure to secure some of the litter and the cat food he is used to from the shelter.  If you want to change his litter and/or food, do so gradually.”

The shelter is often the best resource for pet sitters and behaviorists, too. “We have a handful of trusted pet professionals we recommend for pet sitting and training,” Gabby says. “These are people we have a history with and who are knowledgeable and dedicated to helping animals.”

How much does it cost to adopt a cat — by the numbers  

So, the answer to, “How much does it cost to adopt a cat?” is anywhere from $25 to a few hundred dollars. Then, in addition to the adoption fee, stocking up with basic supplies runs between $100 – $200. However, many of these expenses are not recurring. Additional one-time kitty enrichment costs include catios, cat trees and further places to climb. It’s purported that the average monthly cost to cat parents for their furry family member is about $50.

While the first expenses to bringing a feline into your family appear costly, the dozen or more years of love and laughter, are as they say, “Priceless!”

Thumbnail: Photography ©Wavebreakmedia | Thinkstock.

Read more about cat adoption on Catster.com:

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