Looking to Add a Cat to Your Family? Here's How Much Cat Owners Spend on a Lifetime of Pet Care

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  • Taking care of a cat is a big responsibility and it will impact your personal finances.
  • Cat owners can spend more than $45,000 taking care of their furry companions.
  • It's a good idea to sign up for pet insurance and save up an emergency fund before adopting a new pet.

Caring for a cat may cost more than you realize.

Pets can bring us joy and make our days better. But they're also a big responsibility and require plenty of care and attention, which, of course, costs money. Are you thinking of bringing a cat into your home? You'll want to consider the cost of caring for a cat before getting one.

Cats are curious, affectionate, and intelligent creatures who are relatively self-reliant. But your cat will have many needs that need to be met and that come at a cost. Expenses like vet visits, food, medicine, and essentials can add up fast.

Since your cat won't be able to get a job (unless your cat is one of the lucky few Instagram pet stars getting sponsorships), you'll need to get your finances in order. And it may cost more than you realize to care for your new furry friend.

Lifetime cat care expenses can top $45,000

So how much will it cost to care for a cat throughout its lifetime? Each cat's needs vary. Cat lifespans also vary, but it's not unusual for cats to live 13 to 18 years -- with 15 years being the average lifespan.

A Synchrony study looked at how much pet owners spend on lifetime pet care costs and how those costs differed for cats and dogs. They used 15 years as a reference point to estimate lifetime costs.

The study found that lifetime cat care costs range from $15,055 to $45,790. That's a lot of money. For many people, that's the cost of a car or a home down payment.

Most cat owners would agree that no matter the cost, it's well worth it. After all, seven out of 10 pet owners consider their pets members of the family.

Many pet owners aren't prepared for unexpected pet expenses

The same study examined whether pet owners were prepared for the unexpected costs associated with pet ownership. It turns out many aren't prepared:

  • One out of three pet owners will face an unexpected pet expense that will cause financial stress.
  • 21% of pet owners would be stressed out about an unexpected expense of $251 to $500.
  • 26% of pet owners would be stressed out about an unexpected expense of $1,000 or more.

Three ways to prepare for high pet care costs

If you're thinking of getting a new pet or have pets but don't have a lot of extra money saved, there are steps that you can take to prepare for future pet care expenses and surprise vet bills.

These tips can help you prepare for expensive pet care costs:

  1. Invest in pet insurance. If you're getting a new pet, research the cost of pet insurance and compare policies. This coverage could help protect you against high costs associated with routine medical needs and more severe health concerns.
  2. Set aside savings in a pet fund. Like you probably prepare for life emergencies, you should prepare financially for potential pet emergencies. Opening a separate savings account to save for pet expenses is an easy way to prepare before a surprise vet bill comes your way.
  3. Have a backup plan. Sometimes pet care costs are much more than the average pet owner can prepare for. Luckily, financial solutions are available. It's a good idea to research financing options for pet care costs in case a pricey expense comes up.

A cat can make for the perfect family member. Choosing to get a cat can make your life better while also giving a furry cutie a much-needed home. But before bringing your new pal home, consider the financial implications of being a pet owner. Your cat deserves all the love, attention, and care it can get.

Our Research Expert

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