How much does it cost to adopt a cat?
Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to adopt a cat?

Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to adopt a cat?

$0 – $250 average adoption fee for a kitten
$0 – $200 average adoption fee for an adult cat

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$0 – $250 average adoption fee for a kitten

$0 – $200 average adoption fee for an adult cat

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Jennifer Carlson
Written by
Jennifer Carlson
Edited by
Tara Farmer
Fact-checked by
Kristen Cramer

Average cost to adopt a cat

Adopting a cat costs $0 to $250 for a kitten, $0 to $200 for an adult cat, or $0 to $100 for senior cats ages 7 years and up. Adoption fees depend on the cat's age, your location, and whether you adopt from an animal shelter, rescue group, or breeder.

Average cost to adopt a cat
Type Average adoption fee
Kitten $0 – $250
Adult cat (6 months to 7 years) $0 – $200
Senior cat (7+ years) $0 – $100

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What does a cat adoption fee include?

The adoption fee for a cat typically covers a basic wellness exam and vaccinations, but it may also include a microchip, preventative treatments, and spaying or neutering. Shelters cover most of their operating costs through private donations, so they can keep their prices low.

Most shelters and rescue groups include some or all of the following in their fee:

  • Wellness exam

  • Vaccinations, including feline distemper virus, rabies, and feline leukemia (FeLV).

  • Heartworm test and prevention

  • Flea and tick prevention

  • Deworming

  • Microchip

  • Spaying or neutering

  • Collar and ID tag

Other costs

On top of the adoption fee, you'll need to pay for some basic items. Some shelters and vet offices have food and essentials available for purchase, but you can shop elsewhere if you want more variety.

Additional costs of adopting a cat
Factor Average initial cost
Food $10 – $30 per bag
Litter, box, & scooper $25 – $225+
Accessories / toys $60 – $380
Food and water dishes $5 – $30
Carrier $20 – $100

Ongoing costs of owning a cat

Owning a cat costs $50 to $230 per month on average, depending on the type of food it eats, how many toys and accessories you buy, and how often it visits the vet. Kittens cost slightly more upfront than adult cats.

Cost of owning a cat
Factor Average annual cost Average monthly cost
Food $100 – $800 $8 – $67
Litter $70 – $500 $6 – $42
Toys / treats $20 – $150 $2 – $13
Pet insurance cost $180 – $600 $15 – $50
Vet checkups cost $50 – $250 $4 – $20
Cat vaccinations cost * $40 – $150+* $3 – $13
Heartworm, flea, and tick prevention $120 – $300 $10 – $25
Total average cost $580 – $2,800 $50 – $230

*Annual cost after completing the initial first-year vaccine series. Most vets recommend boosters every 1 to 3 years.

Factors that affect the cost of cat adoption

The cost to adopt a cat can vary depending on certain details:

  • Time in the shelter: Some shelters alter their adoption fee based on how long a cat has been with them to incentivize adoptions and help find forever homes for shy or aging cats.

  • Special needs: Cats with health issues or disabilities can be hard to place in good homes. These pets usually have lower adoption fees, but make sure you're prepared for potentially higher ongoing costs to care for them.

  • Your location: Adoption fees are typically higher in larger cities because they tend to have higher veterinary costs.

  • Shelter vs. breeder: Breeders sell cats, especially rare breeds, but it costs much more than adopting from an animal shelter.

  • Microchip: Microchipping a cat costs $20 to $60. This service is optional but can help you find your cat if they happen to get lost. Some shelters offer this service along with vaccinations, and some cats have already been microchipped previously.

  • Spay / neuter: If the shelter doesn't include this service in their fee, the cost to spay or neuter a cat ranges from $35 to $150 at a clinic or $200 to $500 at a vet's office.

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A person holding a cat for adoption at a shelter
A person holding a cat for adoption at a shelter

What to know before adopting a cat

Cats are an investment, both in time and money. You should only adopt an animal if your lifestyle and budget allow it and you're committed to caring for it for its whole life, which could be up to 20 years. Before adopting a cat, ask yourself these important questions:

  • Can you afford the costs associated with a cat?

  • Cats are the most active at dawn and dusk. Will this disturb your schedule?

  • Cats need love and attention. How much time can you devote to a cat?

  • If the kitty hasn't been litter-trained, are you patient enough to do it?

  • Cats shed fur and sometimes make messes. How important is it to have a perfectly clean home?

  • Can you afford an emergency surgery or vet appointments?

  • Do you go on vacations often? Who will take care of the cat whenever you're gone?

FAQs about adopting a cat

Where can I adopt a cat?

You can adopt a cat at the following facilities:

  • City or county animal shelters

  • Humane Society shelters

  • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

  • Local rescue groups

  • Reputable local breeders

You can also view profiles of available cats in local rescue groups and shelters on PetFinder.

How long does it take to adopt a cat?

With some animal shelters, you can bring your new cat home the same day. However, the application process may take a few hours to a few weeks, depending on the demand in your area.

You may have to provide references and might even get a visit from an adoption coordinator to make sure your home is safe and suitable. Everyone in your household—people and animals—should be there during the visit.

How long do cats live?

Cats usually live for 12 to 18 years, though some have lifespans exceeding 20 years. Cats are happiest when they have a healthy, loving environment, so be sure you're prepared to care for a cat long-term before going forward with the adoption.

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Are cats nocturnal?

Cats and kittens are actually crepuscular, not nocturnal. This means they're active during dawn and dusk and sleepy during the day. This can be hard to get used to if you're used to sleeping in or going to bed early.

Questions to ask when adopting a cat

Before adopting a cat, make sure to spend some time with them to see if they're a good fit for your family. Ask the shelter or rescue professionals these questions:

  • What is the adoption process for prospective owners?

  • What information do you need before adopting?

  • Do all the cats have their vaccinations already? Are they spayed or neutered?

  • When do you wean your kittens?

  • Are all the cats litter trained?

  • If I have other pets, should I arrange a meetup before adopting?

  • What's included in the adoption fee?

  • How long will it be before I can take the cat home?

  • How many homes has this cat already had?

  • What's the cat's health status?

  • Do you have any medical records or vaccine history?

  • Can you tell me anything about their personality?

  • Do they have any behavioral problems?

  • Does this cat get along with children or other pets?

  • Has this cat already been spayed or neutered?

  • Is there a certain kind of cat food you recommend?

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