My friend Dan has always been an animal lover. He grew up with two dogs and three cats, and he always talked about owning his own pets.
When he bought a condo last year, Dan immediately went out and adopted two kittens.
The other day, Dan remarked to me how expensive his cats are. Dan can afford the costs of pet ownership, but he was still surprised at how much owning cats costs.
Before bringing a furry friend into your home, you might want to ask: Can you afford to be a pet owner?
The costs of bringing an animal into your home go far beyond any initial adoption fee, which can vary from nothing at all to hundreds of dollars. Here is a breakdown of the average first year cost of pet ownership costs for one medium dog or one cat, according to the ASPCA.
One Time Expenses
Spaying or Neutering: Dog: $200 / Cat: $145
Initial Medical Exam: Dog: $70 / Cat: $130
Collar or Leash: Dog: $30 / Cat: $10
Litter Box: Cat: $25
Scratching Post: Cat: $15
Crate: Dog: $95
Carrying Crate: Dog: $60 / Cat: $40
Training: Dog: $110
Total One Time Costs: Dog: $565 / Cat: $365
Food: Dog: $120/ Cat: $145
Annual Medical Exams: Dog: $235 / Cat: $130
Litter: Cat: $200
Toys and Treats: Dog: $55 / Cat: $25
License: Dog: $15
Health Insurance: Dog: $225 / Cat: $175
Miscellaneous: Dog: $45 / Cat: $30
Total Annual Costs: Dog: $695 / Cat: $705
Total First Year Pet Ownership Costs: Dog: $1,260 / Cat: $1,070
As you can see, having a pet can cost you over $1,000 in the first year, and well over $500 each additional year. Depending on the food you buy and your actual medical expenses, the costs could be much higher. Furthermore, these tables are not inclusive. If you travel, tack on pet sitting or kennel services, and if you rent an apartment, expect to pay a sometimes no refundable pet deposit or cleaning fee, if your landlord allows animals at all.
These figures take into account having pet health insurance, which many pet owners do not. If your animal gets sick and you do not have insurance, vet bills can quickly escalate into the thousands of dollars. I don’t know much about pet health insurance and whether it is a smart move or not, but I plan to investigate that in a future post. Without it though, having pets is another big reason to have an emergency fund of at least several thousands dollars.
Update: I just learned the Texas Society of CPAs has a PDF version of a pet budget worksheet. While the page is geared at parents teaching kids the costs involved in pet ownership, the actual worksheet is universal, and could be useful in trying to determine what your actual pet ownership costs might be.
How much do you spend on your pets? Do you want a pet but do not have one because of the cost?