Pet ‘Net: Budgeting for Cat Adoption
Today we’re joining in Pet ‘Net 12 Adoption Event 2012! Be sure to check out the other posts in this campaign and enter to win $5,000 for your favorite shelter, too!
You’re searching for your next feline family member but you’re torn between the shelter cat, the free kitten available from your neighbor, and the purebred kitten you saw at a local cat show. They’re all equally adorable but, if you look at the economic cost, one cat comes out head and whiskers above the others.
Although adoption fees vary among shelters and rescues as well as by location and time of year, adoption averages about $70-$100 at shelters with somewhat higher fees for rescues; discounted prices are often seen during peak kitten season and among those cats that are slower to be adopted — senior cats, special needs cats (including FIV+ and FLV+ cats), and even black cats.
Adoption is an economic winner because of the many veterinary services that adoptable cats have already received. At most shelters, kittens and cats will have received:
- Spay or neuter: $150-$200, depending on gender
- First year of shots: $150
- Microchipping: $50
- Deworming: $30
In other words, if you’d purchased those veterinary services for your cat, you’d have spent about to $380-$480–and that’s not even including the flea preventative, ear mite treatment and other extras the shelter/rescue cat will have received. Many shelters also provide a free month of pet insurance upon adoption. We used our free month of pet insurance to care for our cat Inca after adoption; she had a large bloody spot on her ear which turned out to be a bad case of ringworm. The free month of insurance helped us save money.
When you compare those costs to the adoption fee, it’s easy to see that adoption represents a major way to save on preliminary veterinary costs.
Next on the budget: your “startup” costs for a new cat. Whether a cat or a kitten, you’ll need some basic purchases to get off on the right paw including:
- cat food: Money spent on premium food is a great investment; premium dry cat food runs about $2-$5 per pound (although you can find specials). Before purchasing a food, however, find out what food the shelter/rescue was feeding and purchase the same brand for your first bag. It’s always best to slowly transition your cat to a new food, changing out just about 20 percent of the food each day to prevent digestive problems.
- cat bed: Every cat loves a cuddly cat bed but, for nothing more than your time, it’s easy to make a cat bed with a cardboard box and some soft sweaters. Cost: free; $8-$20 for inexpensive beds.
- litterbox: You’ll want at least one litterbox (and two is better). The box should be 1-1/2 times longer than your cat. If you’re adopting a kitten, be sure to get a litterbox with lower sides; the same holds true if you adopt an older cat with any mobility issues.
- cat litter: As with cat food, it’s best if you can start your cat off using the same brand of litter he or she was using at the shelter.
- cat carrier: You’ll want to take along a cat carrier to the shelter or adoption event; a carrier is the safest way to transport home your new family member. Watch for carriers on Freecycle and Craigslist as well as thrift shops, then sanitize them thoroughly before use. Cost: about $25, if new, for a hard-sided carrier.
- bowls: Watch for stainless steel food and water bowls at thrift stores for $1-$2 each. Be sure to select wide-mouthed bowls to prevent whisker stress which occurs if your cat’s whiskers are brushing against the bowl as he eats or drinks.
- scratcher: An inexpensive cardboard scratcher can be a lifesaver, saving your furniture and giving your new cat hours of fun.
- toys: Cat toys are easy and fun to make (even for non-crafters!) From a pinch of catnip in an old sock to a small ball in an old tissue box, many household items can be converted into fun cat toys. And don’t forget the joy of a cardboard box with holes cut in the side!
Many of those first purchases for your newly-adopted cat will last for years to come…as will the love you receive from your new furry family member.
On the topic of spending, we’re conducting the anonymous Pet Parent Holiday Spending Survey and would love your input!