I am not a first time cat owner. I’ve grown up having at least two cats in my household. This is, however, the first time I’m the primary owner–which means I’m the one paying for everything. So, yeah that’s new. And expensive.
A Little Background
My sister and I adopted Patches and Darcy back in August 2023. My parents had been fostering them and they were supposed to go to a family friend, but it ended up not working out. Which, of course, happens, but my stepsister adored Patches and wanted her to go to a friend so she could still see her.
It took months of hemming and hawing. Could we really afford two cats? Did that really matter at the end of the day? I mean, we’d been stopping by my parents place at least once a week for a dopamine boost and furbaby cuddles. Neither of us had gone so long without having pets around (it’d been a year at that point) and it totally affected our mental health.
Needless to say, we gave in.
What Do You Really Need?
Now, did my sister and I spend way too much money at one time and did so somewhat unnecessarily? Yes. This is why I am writing this post, so you don’t make the same mistakes. Is cat ownership–pet ownership–expensive in general? Yes, but we can make it work without breaking the bank.
Getting Set Up For Your Cat
My roommate also has a cat and she wasn’t too keen on the kittens. We anticipated this and decided to convert the upstairs linen closet that wasn’t being used into a base for the cats. Because of this we bought some extra items like shelf liners to go over the metal shelves (found at the dollar store). I also had 3M Command strips and hooks on hand to hang a dustpan and the litter scoop (can also be found at the dollar store).
At The Vet
Before going ahead and getting a pet of any kind, please make sure there is a vet available in your area. I just emailed one near me and they happened to have availability. I also mentioned the cat rescue the kittens were from which I knew that vet was familiar with so it worked out pretty easily for us. However, I do know finding a vet and finding a good one can be difficult.
Dollar Store Essentials
Not so surprisingly you can get the majority of your items at a dollar store like Dollarama.
Here are the essentials and other items to consider.
1 | Litter Box: $4.00
I wasn’t expecting to find a litter box at the dollar store, but it’s a good size and works perfectly. It sits on the floor in the closet with enough room for the cats to get in and out of it. Having it in the closet also helps to contain any messes.
2 | Litter Scoop: $1.25
Pretty self explanatory. Some people will suggest getting a metal scoop, but a plastic one works just fine. You can always invest in one later on.
3 | Litter Catcher: $4.50
This is basically a mat that helps to catch the litter when the cats step out of the litter box. My sister bought this as a ‘for now’ kind of thing because I had ordered a mat on Amazon that hadn’t arrived yet. Sadly, it never arrived. Happily, I got my money back.
4 | Cat Dishes: $2.75 each
There’s a brand new Dollarama not far from us, but there was a Dollar Store in the same complex. It was closing so everything was on sale. My sister picked up 2 cat dishes, 2 very cute bowls, and 2 plates for $8.00.
You do not need all of this. The plates were an extra because we already had some wet food and we planned on using the dishes for dry food.
5 | Cat Toys: $1.25-$1.75
You do not need to buy any expensive toys honestly, the ones at the dollar store are usually way less expensive, but somehow end up being the cats favourite. My sister found these plastic spring toys (here they are on Amazon for $5.49) and Darcy goes crazy over them.
Other Items to Consider
1 | Dustpan Set: $4.00
This has actually come in handy. It’s just a small dustpan set to sweep up the cat litter every day. You can get a dustpan and broom as well, but the small set works for us.
2 | Cat Bed: $5.00
Dollarama categorizes it as a dog bed, but there are two sizes and the larger one is a perfect size for our cats.
3 | Blankets: $4.50-$4.75
Patches is a suckler. She will suck on blankets and make biscuits. Thankfully there were some cheap pet/baby blankets at the dollar store.
4 | Food Container: $2.00
This is an item you don’t really need, but it makes our job easier. It’s just a normal plastic container to pour the dry food in instead of scooping from the bag every day. This was also a practical buy in our situation because we’ve had cats in the past that tore holes in the bag.
Pet Store Items
1 | Royal Canin Kitten Food: $113.99 for a 14lb Bag
This bag lasted us 3 months. We just bought the biggest one because it was cheaper than buying the smaller ones, but more frequently. There are other cheaper brands of cat food, obviously, but Royal Canin is a good brand and most vets will either recommend it and/or sell it.
2 | Nail Clippers: $9.99
You can purchase these on Amazon, but it’s basically the same price in a pet store and you don’t have to pay or wait for shipping.
Now, you might be thinking why do I need nail clippers when I can buy a scratch post? The scratch post will not be enough to file their nails down because it’s not a sturdy enough material as compared to say a tree outside. Get your cat or cats familiar with this early on, when they are kittens, and it shouldn’t be a problem when they’re older.
3 | Toothbrush and Toothpaste: $15.99
This is a necessity. Your cat, your bank account, and your vet will thank you later. My last two cats ended up with horrible teeth because we just never thought to brush them. Do not make the same mistake. Same as with the nail clippers, start brushing your cats teeth early and get them used to it.
1 | Cat Scratcher: $25.99
It’s a small cat post, but it’s better than nothing because your cats will scratch the furniture and rugs otherwise.
2 | Cat Carrier: $23.99
I purchased a small soft carrier, but I plan on investing in a hard one soon. On one hand the cats are already outgrowing it and on the other a hard carrier is a much safer option. These will cost about $60 or more depending on the size and brand.
3 | Baby Gate: $50.84
We needed a way to keep our cats away from our roommate's cat so a baby gate was in order. This was literally the cheapest one I could find. The door is narrower than expected and we still had to put cardboard over the spaces between the bars, but it’s pretty heavy-duty and will last us forever.
My parents use Pretty Litter for their cats and let’s just say I was influenced. Also with keeping the litter upstairs close to our rooms we needed something that wasn’t going to be too dusty and keep the odors at bay. It’s about $80 for 2 bags a month (it’s recommended to have one bag per cat). At the end of the day I don’t mind paying the extra for good cat litter.
So, upfront costs we’re looking at around $100-$150.
And then monthly costs are going to be cat food and litter which will be another $100-$150 depending on brands and everything.
Pricing all of this out made me realize my sister and I spent basically triple this. We went a little crazy with purchases at first such as the collars ($10 each) we bought, but didn’t end up using. My sister also went and bought harnesses and leashes which only one cat actually likes to have on. Anyway, this is why I chose to write this post so you don’t overspend like we did.
I’ll leave you with some adorable cat pictures.