What to Consider Before Getting a Cat


Insurance Ranked

- Updated March 12, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Cats require one-on-one attention and essentials
  • Most cat owners pay $350 to $1,600 every year
  • Be prepared for 12 to 18 years of commitment
  • Use pet insurance to reduce your vet expenses
What to Consider Before Getting a Cat

Cats can provide great affection and joy, but bringing a cat into your home isn’t a decision to take lightly. Despite their reputation for being independent, cats still want attention and companionship. They also come with ongoing vet costs, potential health issues, and other concerns.

If you’re thinking about getting a cat, this is the guide for you. Let’s go over everything you need to consider before obtaining a feline friend.

Lifestyle Assessment

Evaluating your daily schedule

Before adopting a cat, assess your daily schedule. What are your typical work hours? Do you have other social activities and commitments that would impact your availability and ability to care for a feline friend? Cats live best in a home with predictable routines and plenty of companionship.

Considering compatibility with work hours, travel plans, and social activities

It’s important to be home enough to spend time with your cat. If you or your family work difficult hours or travel frequently, your cat might not receive enough attention.

Understanding the time and effort required for cat care and companionship

While cats have a reputation for being more laid-back and introverted than dogs, they still require care and human companionship. Cats crave attention and love. The bare minimum of interacting with your cat is at least 20 minutes of one-on-one attention every day.


Financial Considerations

Owning a cat isn’t cheap. Let’s go over all the financial elements you should consider before getting a cat.

Initial expenses

If you plan to adopt a cat, the cat adoption fee can cost a hundred or two hundred dollars. This price is affected by the breed, age, shelter, and location of the cat. A kitten will usually cost more than an adult cat.

Buying a cat from a breeder can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Breeds can greatly affect how much the cat costs. For example, a Sphynx cat costs around $1000, while Savannah cat costs around $25,000.

Spaying or neutering costs around $150. Initial medical costs, such as vaccines and health checkups, generally cost up to $200.


Certain pet supplies are necessary if you want to get a cat. In the first year, you can expect to pay around $300 for new cat supplies. This amount includes:

  • Litter box
  • Microchipping
  • Collar, leash, and harness
  • Cat carrier
  • Scratching post
  • Cat brush and other grooming tools

Ongoing costs

Caring for a cat involves various ongoing costs. Here are the estimated ongoing annual costs of owning a cat:

  • Food and treats: ~$250/year depending on the food type and brand
  • Litter: ~$150/year
  • Grooming: Shampoo, conditioner, and other grooming supplies cost around $30
  • Pet insurance: Around $300 to $450/year
  • New toys: ~$25
  • Routine and preventive veterinary care: $300

Unexpected emergencies or health issues

Cats can fall ill, get into accidents, and be injured. In these cases, your cat will need prompt medical attention such as diagnostic tests, treatment, and surgery. Urgent pet concerns can cost cat owners hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on the severity and type of emergency.

If you cannot comfortably afford taking care of a new cat when they require emergency vet care, carefully reconsider whether getting a cat at the moment is right for you.

Using pet insurance to reduce expenses

Pet insurance is a great tool that helps save cat owners money. On average, cat insurance costs around $28 a month, or $336 a year. While this may seem like a high continuous price to pay, pet insurance can potentially save pet owners hundreds to thousands of dollars throughout a cat’s lifespan. Pet insurance plans can give you reimbursements for:

  • Accidents (e.g. broken bones and lacerations)
  • Illnesses
  • Veterinary expenses

Living Environment

Assessing your living space and suitability for a cat

Ideally, your home should have enough space for a cat to move around comfortably and safely. If you expect your cat to be an “outdoor cat” that roams around the neighborhood, it’s also a good idea to assess whether your community is friendly to and safe for cats.

Checking for potential hazards and ensuring a safe environment

Cats can be injured or even killed by dangerous hazards. Here are some safety guidelines to keep in mind if you plan on bringing a cat into your home:

  • Remove plants that are toxic to cats
  • Keep household chemicals out of reach
  • Secure windows and balconies
  • Avoid small objects that can be choking hazards

Determining if your housing situation allows for pet ownership (e.g., rental restrictions)

If you live in a rented space, make sure you check your contract to see whether owning a cat is allowed. For example, some apartments or roommates may not allow cats. Review your lease agreement to see if your landlord has any specific rules and restrictions regarding pets.

Allergies and Health Concerns

Since people can have allergic reactions to nearby cats and cats can spread certain diseases to humans, it is important to think about health concerns before adopting a cat.

Consider any allergies or sensitivities among household members

Before getting a cat, it is a good idea to check whether anyone in the household is allergic or sensitive to cats. Here are the common symptoms of cat allergy:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Facial pain
  • Rash or hives
  • Coughing and chest tightness

Discuss potential health risks and responsibilities with a healthcare provider

If you or anyone in your household may be allergic to cats, it is essential to consult with a healthcare provider. There are varying levels of allergies and sensitivities. Getting a cat without discussing the situation with a physician is reckless if someone has health reactions to felines.

Explore hypoallergenic cat breeds or alternative pets if necessary

Allergic reactions to cats are generally caused by the protein Fd1, which is present in feline saliva. Cats groom themselves by licking their fur often, which spreads their saliva onto their coat. If you are allergic to a cat but remain interested in getting a cat, consider a breed with little or no coat. Sphynx cats are the most friendly option for cat owners who are allergic since these cats are hairless.

Beware of potential cat litter dangers

Cat litter can excrete feces containing a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. It is essential to keep the cat’s litter box clean. Using disposable gloves, special cat litter boxes, and washing hands with soap after cleaning litter can reduce the chances of catching toxoplasmosis.

Time Commitment and Socialization

Understanding the importance of daily interaction and playtime

To be healthy and happy, cats require daily interaction. Without enough socialization and attention, cats can get bored, lethargic, stressed, and even depressed. A neglected cat can end up with behavioral issues such as aggression and mischief.

Considering the cat's social needs and compatibility with existing pets

Not all cats are happy to be with other pets. A peaceful co-existence with existing pets can depend greatly upon the breeds, species, training, and individual temperament. Before getting a cat, if you already own other animals in the household, be sure to research thoroughly whether it is safe to put them together in the same living space.


Behavioral and Training Considerations

Researching common cat behaviors and training techniques

Knowing how a cat behaves and expresses their emotions through typical cat behavioral language is important for any cat owner. Training a cat is essential to the long-term happiness of both the cat and the cat owner.

Addressing potential challenges

Scratching: While it is natural for cats to perform scratching behavior, scratching the wrong things at home can lead to ruined cushions and sofas. Give your cat scratching posts and surfaces and encourage them to use these locations for scratching instead.

Litter box issues: Improper litter box hygiene, stress, and medical issues can cause litter box problems with cats. If your cat changes their litter box behavior, it is a good idea to notify your veterinarian, since it can be a symptom of a greater problem.

Aggression: Special training and a cat behaviorist may be necessary if your cat displays hostile, aggressive behavior toward you, other pets, or visitors. A certified cat behaviorist or veterinarian can help you devise a tailored behavior modification plan.

Preparing for patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement in training efforts

Training and rewards help reinforce desired behaviors in cats, such as not scratching furniture or using the litter box. While some cats are easier to train than others, it is important to remain patient when training your cat. Before getting a cat, be prepared to invest time and effort into proper training and rewards for your cat.

Adoption vs. Breeder Considerations

Exploring adoption options

Adopting a pet in need from a shelter, rescue, or foster organization is a wonderful, compassionate choice that can save a life. There are plenty of cats to adopt with their own unique personalities and experiences. You can find the perfect match for you and your family by adopting a cat in need and giving them a loving home. In addition, adoption options are generally cheaper than going with a breeder.

Researching reputable breeders

If your heart is set on a specific breed, make sure you find a reputable, ethical cat breeder. Note that purebred cats are more prone to breed-specific, inherited health conditions, which can be serious concerns later down the line. Thoroughly research each breeder and your desired cat breed before making a choice.

Weighing the benefits of adoption

Adopting a cat is generally the recommended choice since it can save a cat in need and support animal welfare. Adopted cats that are given second chances at forever homes are often already neutered or spayed, vaccinated, and microchipped, which can save you time and money.


Where to Find Pet Insurance

Exploring options for pet insurance providers

Pet insurance can be a valuable form of financial protection for cat owners. It is essential to pick a suitable one that provides good coverage and fast reimbursements. Check out our top pet insurance providers for the latest details on which pet insurance companies are the best for cat owners.

Comparing coverage options

When choosing a cat insurance company, there are many factors to consider. Here are some insurance elements to look at.

Type of pet insurance: The two main types are accident-only and comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage will be more expensive, but covers illnesses on top of accidents.

Premium: The insurance premium is how much pet insurance will cost each month. On average, cat insurance costs around $28 a month, or $336 a year. Choose a premium that aligns with your budget.

Deductible: This is the dollar amount you need to pay out-of-pocket for vet expenses before you can file an insurance claim and obtain reimbursements. A higher deductible means more out-of-pocket expenses, but a lower premium.

Other influencing factors

Your cat’s characteristics can affect your pet insurance policy needs and cost. Consider your cat’s age, breed, and pre-existing conditions. For example, if your cat’s breed is prone to breed-specific conditions, it is better to have comprehensive accident and illness coverage that covers those health conditions.

Long-Term Commitment

Buying a cat isn’t like purchasing a new toy. Pet ownership is a serious commitment. Make sure you are prepared to care for your cat for up to two decades, or at least have an idea of how you can ensure the cat will receive essential care in case of significant life changes.

Cats have relatively good longevity compared to other common pets. For example, hamsters only live around two years, whereas pet cats generally live between 12 to 18 years. Some healthy cats can even live over 20 years. Such a long expected lifespan means that cat owners need to think about the long-term care and impact of a cat.



Getting a feline friend comes with plenty of responsibilities, but it can also be an incredibly rewarding experience. By respecting and caring for your cat, you can gain a precious, lifelong bond filled with joy and companionship. Before getting a cat, make sure you consider the following points:

  • Adopt or purchase from a breeder?
  • Can you afford pet care?
  • Are you prepared to prioritize the well-being of your cat?
  • Do you have enough time to spend with your cat every day?
  • Is anyone in your household allergic to cats?

To ensure your future cat can receive the veterinary attention they need, consider getting pet insurance. Pet insurance mitigates the high upfront costs of vet expenses, making it easier to take care of your feline companion.

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