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How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Cat from a Shelter? 2024 Update

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

two women adopting cats at the shelter

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Cat from a Shelter? 2024 Update

One of the most rewarding experiences is to adopt a cat from a shelter, but it is not as easy as just walking in, picking one out, and taking them home. There will still be an adoption fee in addition to other potential expenses. Nonetheless, it is still significantly less expensive than purchasing a cat from a breeder, and you get to give a cat a new forever home.

The costs for adopting a cat from a shelter can vary depending on their age, breed, health, and included services, but according to Animal Humane Society , it can range from $39 to $317. If you are considering adopting a cat from a shelter, this guide will help you determine all the costs to prepare you better.

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The Importance of Adopting – “Adopt Don’t’ Shop”

There are so many great reasons to adopt rather than shop. You can help a cat that needs care by adopting rather than purchasing one from a breeder. It’s among the best ways to help a deserving animal get the attention and love they deserve.

Every year, 3.4 million cats are brought into animal shelters nationwide, and about 1.4 million cats are euthanized.1 Some shelters don’t have the space, resources, and funding to care for them all. Every time an animal is adopted, a spot in the shelter becomes available. Therefore, adopting a cat can save that animal’s life and create a space where another animal’s life can be saved.

cat at an animal shelter
Image By: JW Design, Shutterstock

How Much Does Adopting a Cat from a Shelter Cost?

Adoption costs for cats vary based on the shelter, the cat’s age and health, and the services included in getting the cat ready for adoption. Kittens typically cost more because they need vaccinations, other medical procedures, and more hands-on care from the staff.

In contrast to cats acquired from breeders, adoption fees frequently cover vaccines, spaying or neutering, and essential medical exams. Some shelters also provide discounts, reductions, or waivers during specific seasons, particularly around Christmas. Senior citizens and people in the military may also be eligible for fee reductions or waivers.

Cat adoption costs, according to Animal Humane Society , range from $39 to $317. Additionally, some shelters charge administrative fees or give you the choice to put a 24-hour hold on a pet you’re interested in adopting.

Here is an example of how adoption costs may vary by location:

Shelter Cat Adoption Fees
Humane Society of Greater Miami $59–$89
North Shore Animal League (New York) $75–$200
Humane Society of Charlotte $75–$150
Animal Humane Society (Minnesota) $39–$317
KC Pet Project (Missouri) $25–$125
Arizona Animal Welfare League $50–$150
Sacramento SPCA $45–$100


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Additional Costs to Anticipate

When adopting a cat from a shelter, a few services are included in the adoption fee, but there are additional costs to anticipate. Adopting a pet requires an ongoing financial commitment. During the first year of pet ownership, you will likely need to budget more money than in the following years. These additional costs can include your cat’s initial vet visit, supplies, food, veterinary care, microchipping, and pet insurance.

Although several of the initial costs are covered by the shelter, we still recommend taking your cat to the vet for a checkup. While you are there, you should talk to your vet about microchipping and if it is something you can afford. You should also talk to your vet about the best diet for your cat.

Naturally, you must also ensure you have all the necessary supplies, such as food and water bowls, litter trays, toys, cat beds, scratching posts, and collars. Ongoing expenses may include your cat’s food, veterinary care, replacement toys, and pet insurance.

a woman hugging her cat
Image By: U__Photo, Shutterstock

Does Pet Insurance Cover Adopted Cats?

Pet insurance will give you peace of mind that you can cover any unforeseen costs. Fortunately, insurance companies don’t fault animals adopted from shelters. In fact, some companies partner with animal shelters and offer discounts to anyone who adopts a pet. However, your cat’s age, breed, and health history will determine the cost of your insurance premium.

How Does the Adoption Process Work?

You will likely need to complete an adoption form with all the necessary information. Ensure you comply with all regulations and have all the necessary paperwork because some shelters may want proof of residence or a letter from your landlord confirming that you are allowed a pet.

Once your application has been approved, you can head to the shelter to meet the cats and find the one that will suit you and your lifestyle best. The staff will help you with all the information you need to take your new kitty. Your new cat may need time to adapt to your home, so give them time to adjust to their new environment’s sights, noises, and scents.

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The cost of adopting a cat from a shelter can vary depending on a few factors, such as location, the cat’s health, breed, age, and the services included to prepare them for adoption. Once you have found a shelter, gone through the application process, and chosen your new furry companion, you must ensure that you have all the necessary items needed to take care of them, which is an additional cost that must be considered.

You must also factor in recurring expenses like food, medical care, and pet insurance. Although there are costs associated with adopting a cat from a shelter, doing so is still far less expensive than purchasing one from a breeder, and the best part is that you have given your cat their new, forever home.

Featured Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock

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