The annual cost of cat ownership in the UK

12 December 2023 - 4 min read
Cat laying on the floor

Owning a cat is not just about cuddles and purrs, it's a commitment that comes with its fair share of responsibilities - including financial ones.

In the UK, prospective and current cat owners need to be aware of the costs of having a feline companion. From initial expenses such as cat vaccinations, neutering, and microchipping, to ongoing concerns such as food, toys, and litter, the annual cost of meeting a cat’s needs is affected by a huge range of factors. 

If you’re unsure about how much your cat will cost, we’re here to help you understand what to expect - and ensure that your furry friend can get everything it needs to live a happy, healthy life!

Getting started: Home essentials for your new cat

Getting a cat or kitten is always an exciting time but, while the annual cost of having a cat in your home will vary from year to year, you should expect to spend a little bit of money before they arrive. With that in mind, here are the practical items you’ll need (and some you’ll want) in order to make your home a welcoming and comfortable place  for your new cat: 

The ManyPets new kitten home checklist:

Expense Price range*
Cat litter (20 litre bag) £6 - £27
Litter box, litter scoop £5 - £60
Food (4kg bag of dry food) £10 - £35
Cat bowls £2 - £60
Travel carrier £10 - £150

*Price ranges are averages based on research conducted on 23 November, 2023. Figures may vary significantly based on a range of factors. 

Some of the entries on your checklist, such as food bowls and a travel carrier, represent one-off costs for things that you’ll be able to use for a long time before you replace them. Others, however, such as food and litter, represent the first of ongoing costs which you’ll need to pay on a regular basis as your cat grows. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the other monthly and annual costs of keeping a cat in your home. 

The annual cost of owning a cat: What do I need to pay for?

Veterinary expenses

When you get a new kitten or cat, you should arrange a check-up with a vet to make sure they’re in good health, and don’t have any medical issues that need to be addressed. The price of a check-up will vary by practice, so don’t forget to explore your options. 

In addition to your vet check-up, you’ll need to think about a few ongoing medical and welfare costs. These include: 

  • Vaccinations: You will need to get your cat vaccinated, or get booster vaccination shots. 

  • Flea/tick and worming products: Your cat will need treatments to prevent flea and worm infestations.

  • Neutering (spaying or castrating): Getting your cat neutered is a necessity if you want to avoid having to deal with more kittens. 

  • Microchipping: If your cat ever gets lost, microchipping can help you find it. 

  • Routine healthcare: Cats inevitably need to take a few trips to the vet over the course of their lives to manage bumps and scrapes, illnesses, dental issues, and other routine medical complaints. 

  • Euthenasia: It’s important to take your cat to the vet to prevent it from suffering if it is very ill.

Holiday expenses

When you calculate the annual cost of keeping a cat, you should factor in the holidays you intend to take during the year. Cats won’t typically be able to accompany you on overseas trips, so you’ll need to think about a few associated costs: 

  • Cat sitter:  If you don’t have family or friends who can help out, you might need to pay a professional cat sitter to feed your cat and change its litter tray. 

  • Cattery: If you can’t get a pet sitter, or don’t want one, you might have to put your cat in a cattery while you’re away. 

  • Animal Health Certificate: If you want, or need, to take your cat with you on your foreign holiday, you’ll need your vet to fill out and sign an Animal Health Certificate within 10 days of your trip. 

  • Travel carrier: While we mentioned a carrier as an essential above, you might want to think about a more robust model if you plan to take your cat on holiday with you. 

  • Vet bills: There may be additional vaccination costs for taking your cat to a foreign country, along with quarantine costs. 

Home expenses

You may need to add, or remove, certain things from your home to make it cat-friendly. While these items aren’t necessarily ‘must-buy’, you may find the spend makes life significantly better for your cat, and for you!

  • Cat bed and bedding: Cats can (and do) sleep anywhere, but some prefer a comfy cat bed to relax in, or a pillow to stretch out on. 

  • Scratching post: Cats scratch for numerous reasons, but the behaviour can sometimes damage furniture. By purchasing a scratching post, you can help your cat keep its claws in shape, and (hopefully) prevent them scratching furniture!

  • Cat trees: Every cat enjoys playing and relaxing and a cat tree is a place they can do both. In addition to platforms and hiding places, most cat trees come with built-in scratching posts.

  • Cat toys: From simple balls and feather wands, to plush toys and laser pointers, you can buy a variety of toys to keep your cats entertained. 

  • Cat flap: If you’re happy to let your cat go outside, a cat flap can make it easier for them - and mean that you don’t have to go to the door every time they want to leave. 

  • Grooming supplies: If you ever need to cut your cat’s claws at home or give their fur a brush, you might need to purchase certain grooming items such as special cat nail clippers. 

Cat food

It’s essential that you give your cat a healthy and nutritious diet, which means purchasing the right cat food. You’ll probably also want to try different types of food for your cat every now and again, and give them the odd treat!

  • Cat food: Depending on your cat's preferences, you can feed them dry or wet food, or a combination of the two. There are plenty of different brands on the market with multipack tins and pouches available. 

  • Cat treats: When you want to give your cat a treat, you’ll want to have a bag of treats on hand. 

Cat insurance

Although it’s not essential, purchasing cat insurance for your cat or new kitten brings valuable peace of mind that you’ll have financial support should they fall ill or have an accident. There are a variety of insurance policies for cats, including cover for accidents and illness, dental conditions, and other non-medical issues. Shop around to find the cover that you think will fit you and your pet best.  

Average annual cost of owning a cat

If you’re trying to get your head around what you can expect to spend, let’s break down the average annual cost of owning a cat, including the monthly cat expenses you might incur.

Expense Payment frequency Annual cost*
New cat essentials (see table above) £180
Vaccinations in first year One-off £100
Vaccinations boosters after first year Annual £65
Spaying One-off £140
Castrating One-off £120
Flea/tick treatment Monthly £30
Worm treatment Variable £10
Microchipping One-off £20
Grooming supplies One-off £30
Food (highly variable by brand, size and age of cat) Monthly £108
Litter (20 litre bag) Every 2 months £90
Toys One-off £25
Cat bed One-off £25
Cat tree One-off £60
Scratching post One-off £20
Cat flap (not including installation) One-off £20
Annual vet check-up Annual £55
Dental cleaning Variable £275
Animal Health Certificate, 4 month validity (including necessary vaccinations) One-off/Each time you travel £120
Pet sitter - 1 day booking One-off £15
Cattery - 1 day booking One-off £17
Cat insurance (highly variable by a variety of factors) Monthly £395
Total annual dog expenses £1918

*Costs are averages based on research conducted on 23 November, 2023. Figures may vary significantly based on a range of factors. 

Bear in mind the prices listed above are estimates, and only a representation of potential costs that you might incur by having a cat. The various expenses will, in reality, be different for every owner. Similarly, not all of the listed expenses will be necessary for all cats. 

Keeping your cat happy and healthy

Every cat owner wants their kitty to be as happy and healthy as possible but it’s important that you know what kind of expenses your cat will bring, and plan ahead so that you can afford them. Looking at the estimated costs above, and taking into account their breed and the age at which they join your family, you might spend a significant amount on your cat over the course of their lifetime. Bear in mind you’ll also be getting years of fun and love from your kitty, and giving them a happy and safe home. 

If you’re worried about the cost of owning a cat, explore your options: there are plenty of ways to bring down the costs associated with your feline companion, without compromising their welfare. In fact, one of the ways to manage the cost of your cat’s veterinary care specifically, is to consider pet insurance. Insurance coverage is an important part of a preventative approach to pet care, and can help you afford those unexpected vet bills for the treatment of accidents and injuries. Explore ManyPets’ cat insurance policies here to find out more. 

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Lewis Martins
Communities marketer

Lewis has worked in pet health since 2017. Before joining ManyPets in 2021, he led content production at VetForum and PetsApp. Lewis has collaborated with some of the world’s biggest vet groups and suppliers to write educational articles for vets and pet parents. His Instagram feed is 60% dogs, 40% cats.