Why your feline friend could cost £17k

As a nation of animal lovers, most Brits are only too happy to lavish affection and love on their pet cats and dogs. But that's not all we give them.

cost of pet ownership

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New research has revealed the average cat owner will spend £17,200 on caring for their feline friend during its lifetime. Whether a pedigree Persian or streetwise moggy, food, trips to the vet and insurance are all essentials for devoted owners and that means the bills can quickly mount up.

The survey, by Sainsbury's Pet Insurance, found that owners fork out an estimated £1,028 a year to take care of their cats but over a 15-year lifetime, that figure could increase by 23.5 per cent to an annual spend of £1,270.

Somewhat surprisingly, dog owners have it better. The average pooch will set you back £16,900 - £1,183 a year, rising by 20 per cent to £1,418 during a 13-year lifetime. However, should Fido live to the ripe old age of 20, that figure can easily reach £27,000.

A third of the dog-owner's bill goes on food, while the average cat devours 41 per cent of their owner's annual spend. Most owners will happily shell out for toys and treats (£121 a year on average) while grooming costs add up to an annual total of £244 for dogs and £167 for cats.

Vets fees are, of course, unavoidable no matter how healthy your pet - the study revealed that vet bills account for 13 per cent of the average pet-owner's spend.

The cost of medical attention for pets is rising by a sizeable 15 per cent each year and with many insurance policies covering only £1,500 worth of treatment for any one condition, owners often find themselves having to dig deep to give their pet the best care.

Worth bearing in mind should the kids start clamouring for a pet of their own.

Helen Williams, head of Sainsbury's Pet Insurance, said: "Looking after a pet dog or cat properly can involve a significant financial commitment. Costs can escalate as pets get older as they often need extra medical care and attention; with advances in veterinary treatment and better diets many will live well beyond their average life expectancy."

What do you think - do too many people rush into buying a pet without considering the cost? Leave a comment below...