The cost of owning a cat

KittensFew things are cuter than a fluffy little kitten. But that little kitten is likely to live for 15 years, and he or she will need feeding and caring for during that time.

Before inviting a feline friend into your home, it is therefore a good idea to get an idea of how much you will need to spend to keep him or her.

The lifetime cost of owning a cat is currently £17,200, according to recent figures from Sainsbury's pet insurance.

This is based on an average annual cost of £1,028, 41% of which is spent on food and 13% of which is paid out for vet's bills.

However, the bad news is that this could increase to £1,270 a year within the next 15 years, which is how long a kitten born today could be expected to live.

This equates to an increase of 23.5% and means your cat could easily set you back by more than £19,000 during its lifetime.

If you want a pedigree cat, the initial costs could also prove high with sought-after breeds fetching several hundred pounds.

The good news, though, is that many people give kittens away to good homes for free, while you can also get a kitten or an older cat from a rescue centre in return for a small donation.

If you get a kitten, then one thing to consider is that you will need to start vaccinating him or her at about 10 weeks.

This process that costs about £60 in total and, like spaying (about £100) and neutering (about £70), is not covered by pet insurance policies.

With an older cat, on the other hand, more frequent visits to the vet may be necessary due to his or her failing health.

It is therefore worth considering taking out insurance - in spite of the exclusions - as the bill for operations or more serious treatment can reach thousands of pounds.

Helen Williams, head of Sainsbury's pet insurance said: "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 so it's important to have good pet insurance in place to pick up what could otherwise be fairly daunting costs."

Other costs to bear in mind include litter, which should not cost more than about £10 to £15 a month at most, and accessories such as a litter tray, a basket to transport him or her to and from the vet, a scratching post to prevent your soft furnishings being shredded and perhaps a collar and some toys.

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