BY: Kathleen Rodgers 

You wouldn’t trade your cat for a million dollars, but how much does it cost to keep your cat happy and healthy? As a pet sitter in Washington, DC, I frequently hear this question from new pet parents. Let’s explore the annual cost of caring for a cat.

The first year of cat care is, of course, the most expensive. You’ll need food and water dishes, litter box and scoop, a collar and ID tag, inserting an identification chip, a cat carrier, and toys. You’ll also have higher veterinary costs during the first year, for vaccinations and boosters as well as spay/neuter costs.

The Fiscal Times, a digital news service, estimates that the first-year costs of cat care are over $1,000, with subsequent years at around $500. Your actual costs will depend on several factors, including whether your cat eats dry food or canned and the cost of veterinary care in your area.

No matter how old your cat is, you’ll need to provide quality food and cat litter on a continuing basis. The amount of food your cat will need depends on several factors such as age, size, how active the cat is, and the caloric content of the food you are offering. Check cat food labels for recommendations on how much your cat should eat daily.

Adult cats need to visit the veterinarian for an annual check-up and vaccinations. If your vet recommends flea and heartworm preventative, annual de-worming or teeth cleaning, include these costs. If your cat has a health condition that requires special food or medicine, take that into consideration as well.

Long-haired cats with fur that tends to mat might need professional grooming on a regular or occasional basis.

Don’t forget to plan ahead for the cost of pet-sitting services when needed.

According to the ASPCA most pet parents will face at least one $2,000+ bill for emergency veterinary care at some point during their pet’s lifetime. Putting aside a set dollar amount each month into a contingency or emergency pet fund will give you peace of mind. If you count on pet health insurance to meet these unexpected expenses, factor in the cost of your monthly premiums.

Once you have these figures on paper, add them all up to find the annual cost of keeping your cat healthy and happy.