The Real Cost: Cat Adoption & How Much It Cost to Own a Cat in Singapore

John Yong

John Yong

Last updated 31 October, 2022

 


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You finally decided to adopt a cat? Congratulations! You're about to sign a 12 to 18-year contract that requires you to toil endlessly (both emotionally and financially) to please your soon-to-be feline overlord.

Many people think that owning a cat is more affordable than owning a dog. Sure, adoption fees are much lower, but just like a dog, you'll have to be prepared to pay for plenty of different expenses over its lifetime.

From one-off expenses like vaccinations and sterilisation, to recurring ones like food and grooming, we'll breakdown the average cost of cat adoption and the costs to own a cat in Singapore.

I'll be basing this on my own personal experience as I raised 4 cats over the past 10 years, all of which were adopted!

Cats 1


Buying a cat in Singapore

There are many established catteries in Singapore that offer purebred cats. Popular cat breeds include Ragdolls, Persians, British Shorthair, Munchkins, and Scottish Folds.

These cats can cost from S$800 to S$5,000 depending on the breeder, pedigree and country of origin. Do note that this initial cost excludes vaccination and sterilisation.

If you do decide to buy a purebred cat, make sure you ask the shop to produce a certification of the cat's lineage and medical history. This ensures you are paying for a purebred cat and not a mix-bred.

Last but not least, remember to do your due diligence before purchasing one. If possible, request to see the cat in person or visit the pet store to see its living conditions. A healthy cat should be active and curious with clean and smooth fur. Check their ears and skin as well. They should be free of ear mites and other bugs like fleas or ticks. Their skin should also be rash-free.

You may refer to this checklist from NParks for something more comprehensive checklist.

Do note that purebred cats are often high in maintenance as they require a specific diet and regular grooming to upkeep their health and physical appearance.

I cannot stress this enough, but avoid purchasing cats from backyard breeders as they often subject the felines to inhumane treatment and conditions, resulting in ill-bred cats with underlying health conditions and diseases. These ailments could spread to humans or other pets in your household.

By supporting backyard breeders, it only perpetuates the cycle of unethical breeding of animals for commercial sale.


Adopting a Cat in Singapore

Cat 2-1If you are truly an animal lover, you'd be perfectly fine adopting a cat from a registered shelter or adoption group. Thankfully, there are several places where you can adopt a cat from. Here are a few examples.

Some of these places may charge a small adoption fee of S$80 to S$250 to offset the food, litter, toys and medical fees, such as vaccinations, microchipping, and sterilisation of the cats.

They will also require you to catproof your home. The fosterer may even conduct a home visit to ensure that your house is ready for your new pet. Different groups have different procedures, so do read up on them beforehand.

If you've decided to adopt a cat directly from a fosterer or cat owner, they too might also charge an adoption fee.

Be wary though as many backyard breeders will disguise themselves as a fosterer or cat owner. So instead of an "adoption fee", you're actually buying their cats. As a general rule of thumb, anything above S$500 for an adoption fee is a tad bit suspicious.

Similar to buying a cat, do arrange a play session with the cat before adoption to better identify its temperament and condition.

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One-off costs of cat ownership

Here is a summary of several initial one-off costs that you will likely incur once you've found a cat to bring home.

Expenses Costs
Sterilisation (Spaying/Neutering) S$50 to S$350 (depending on the vet and sex of the animal)
Vaccinations (for unvaccinated cats) S$30 to $80 per shot
Cat-proofing S$50 - S$100 (DIY)

S$400 - S$1,000 (Contractors)
Microchipping S$50 to S$90

 

Sterilisation (Spaying/Neutering)

If you're adopting a cat, it's likely sterilised. This is often a necessary procedure as it prevents the unnecessary breeding of unwanted animals and reduces the risk of certain types of cancer and diseases.

It may even help to reduce undesirable behaviours in your cat, such as aggression and the marking of territory (through peeing) around the house.

In general, the sterilisation of female cats tend to cost more than male cats. You might also want to call up different vets to compare the cost of sterilisation. From my personal experience, 24-hour vets will usually charge more for this procedure.

Regardless, you should be prepared to pay between S$80 to S$350 for the sterilisation of your cat. The final cost will depend on the vet and the sex of your feline.

 

Vaccinations

Similar to sterilisation, adopted cats are likely to be sterilised before adoption. If that is the case, remember to ask for its vaccination records from the fosterer.

If your cat has not been vaccinated, it will require two vaccination shots, one of which will be a booster, which is usually done one month after the first shot.

All vets in Singapore can carry this out and the cost will be from S$30 to $80, depending on the vet.

 

Cat-proofing

cat grille

This is by far the most important thing to get done before bringing your cat home. Cats are curious by nature and they can't help but to climb and explore every nook and cranny of your house, including window sills and balconies.

In order to keep them safe and prevent high-rise deaths, you should always mesh up your windows and the gate of your front door. You can either purchase a roll of plastic mesh from a hardware store and do it yourself, or you can hire a contractor to install the mesh for you.

If you are going the DIY route, make sure that the mesh is secured properly on the windows and front gate. This is a more budget-friendly approach, costing between S$50 to S$100 and some elbow grease.

I recommend getting a mesh that is slightly thicker as some cats may have a tendency to gnaw at the mesh, which may cause it to break or loosen over time.

The plastic mesh might be unsightly to some homeowners, therefore, they may wish to bring in a contractor to install invisible grills or nettings on their windows or balconies. 

This is obviously a more costly affair, as the damage may be between S$400 to S$1,000 depending on the area of the installation. I chose to install invisible grilles for my living room, study room and kitchen windows, and it cost me around S$800 in total.

Although it may seem like a lot of effort, the peace of mind that cat-proofing brings is very much worth it. Trust me!

 

Microchipping

Whether you stay in a HDB flat, condominium, or land property, you should always microchip your cat.

It comes useful if your cat goes missing. By simply scanning the microchip, the authorities or vet will be able to identify the owner more easily and return the cat back home.

The cost of microchipping will cost you between S$50 to S$80.


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Recurring costs of cat ownership

In case you weren't aware, domesticated cats can live up to 12 to 18 years. And yes, that means that there will be recurring costs to ensure your feline lead a long and healthy life with you.

Here are several things which you'll need to pay throughout your cat's life. Do note the costs are estimated.

Expenses Costs
Cat food (Treats, dry and wet food) S$48 - S$100 for 2.5kg of dry food (per month)

S$81 - S$180 for 30 cans of wet food (per month)

S$5 - S$12 per pack
Litterbox & litter S$30 - S$80 for 1 litterbox

S$40 for a bag of litter (per month)
Cat furniture and toys S$80 - S$100 for 1 cat tree

S$2.50 - S$8 for cat toys

S$30 for scratch post

S$8 to S$12 for cardboard scratch pad
Medical expenses S$50 - S$80 (yearly check-up/vaccination)

S$200 - S$1,000 (for medical procedures)
Grooming S$50 - S$80 (per month)
Other miscellaneous costs S$50 - S$100 (pet communicator)

S$55 (AirTag + collar)

S$24 - S$750 (pet insurance)

 

Cat food (Treats, dry and wet food)

For cat food, you have three options. You can either feed your feline dry food (kibble), wet food (from a can or pouch) or a combination of the two. Do note that dry cat food is often the least expensive option and offers cat owners the most convenience. However, cats may be picky when it comes to flavour. Wet cat food, on the other hand, is the more expensive option and is often more palatable to cats. It also serves as a good source of fluids for your pet.

Kibble is widely accessible at pet shops and supermarkets at various price points. However, to ensure the well-being of your kitty, you should always opt for kibble that is rich in high-quality protein. It should not contain any grains, vegetables or additives, as they may harm your cat over time.

Remember, cats are obligate carnivores, which means they naturally rely on nutrients found in animal products. This means you should always opt for kibble that is made from animal-based ingredients. Although these kibbles are slightly pricier, it ensures that your kitty is getting the proper nutrients to lead a longer and healthier life. Here are some recommendations for your consideration.

Quality kibble can cost anywhere between S$48 to S$100 for a 2.5kg bag of food. This should feed your kitty for about a month.

If you prefer feeding your cat a wet diet, do opt for wet cat food that contains muscle meat and animal organs. Similarly, they should not contain any carbohydrates, additives, or fillers. Here are some options to consider.

Wet cat food can cost between S$2.70 to S$6 per can. This adds up to S$81 to S$180 a month. If your cat eats 2 cans a day, simply double the amount above.

As for treats, they should not make up more than 10% of your cat's diet and should only be given to them as, well, a treat or reward for special occasions. A pack of treats should cost around S$5 to S$12, and it should last you a few months.

 

Litterbox & litter

Unlike dogs, which you have to take down for walks to do their business, cats are naturally litter-trained. All you need is to provide them with a sizable litterbox and good quality litter for them to bury their pee and poop. A good litterbox should cost between S$30 to S$80, depending on its size and design.

In my personal experience, pine pellets work the best as they are not only able to mask any odours, but they can also be flushed down the toilet for convenience. They also offer minimal tracking and are gentle on your kitty's paws. A bag of pine litter can cost around S$40 and it should last you a month or more if you have 1 cat.

An alternative would be tofu cat litter. These are slightly cheaper, costing around S$7 to S$9 a bag. However, they have to be changed more regularly as they don't do as good of a job of masking odour.

Although clay and silica-based litters are the most common and cheapest, they may cause respiratory issues to your feline in the long run. Also when choosing a litter, pick one that clumps easily. This makes cleaning their litter box easier.

 

Cat furniture and toys

Unless you want your sofa or your ErgoTune chair to be ripped with claw marks, I highly recommend getting some cat furniture and scratch post for the house.

I bought mine from Shopee, and it only costs around S$80 to S$100 for a decent-sized cat tower. It also came with several built-in scratch post, which saved me the trouble of buying a separate scratching post.

If your house doesn't have the space, you could opt for something smaller or a cardboard scratch pad for your feline. However, the latter has to be replaced fairly regularly as all cats enjoy a good scratch.

When it comes to cat toys, a simple one from any local pet store or Diaso will suffice. Cats do enjoy interacting with their owners and it also prevents them from getting bored, allowing them to release any energy they have from sleeping all the time. A simple cat wand can cost around S$2.50 to S$8.

 

Medical expenses

If you provide your feline with regular tender loving care, there should be no reason for you to take him or her to the vet (besides for its annual check-up/vaccination).

On the other hand, medical treatments and surgeries can be quite costly ranging from S$200 to S$1,000 depending on the severity of the procedure.

If you are worried about paying hand over fist for such medical emergencies, you could consider purchasing pet insurance for your pet. For those unaware, pet insurance will help you cover vet expenses for accidents and both non-surgical and surgical treatments.

 

Grooming

Grooming is often seen as an optional expense as this is something which you can always do on your own. I for one cut my cats' nails once a month, and brush their fur at least 2 times a week. 

If you prefer to pamper your kitty, you also have the option of sending it to a professional groomer. Typically, one visit to the groomer should set you back by S$50 to S$80, depending on the length of your cat's fur.

You might also incur additional costs if your cat is feisty. Any specially requested haircut (to make it look like a teddy bear or lion) will also cost you extra.

 

Other miscellaneous costs

Pet communicators have seen a rise in popularity lately. However, their trustworthiness is often debatable as there is no real science behind their services.

If you do wish to engage a pet communicator, I recommend you keep an open mind and take what they say with a pinch of salt.

Popular pet communicators in Singapore charge around S$50 to S$100 per session. During the session, you'll be able to direct several questions to your pet and the communicator will act as a medium and communicate to you on your pet's behalf.

Their services include communication with both live and deceased animals. Pet communicators will usually request a recent picture of your pet, including its name and age.

Another cost which you might incur is the cost of an AirTag and collar. Although this is more of a nicety, I can vouch for the peace of mind that it brings. Instead of panicking when your cat doesn't answer your call, you can use the AirTag and Find My feature on the iPhone to instantly locate your feline. It can also narrow the search radius should your cat go missing - it can even ping your cat's location to nearby iPhone users if you set the AirTag status to missing.

Lastly, pet insurance is also something useful that you should consider getting. As mentioned above, pet insurance can help defray the cost of vet expenses arising from accidents as well as any medical procedures. It even pays a small lump sum should your pet pass on.

Just like insurance for us humans, there are several eligibility requirements and exclusions, so do read up on them before signing up for one.

cat 3


Total cost of cat ownership in Singapore

Expenses  Cost
One-Off Costs
- Adoption Fee
- Vaccination
- Microchipping
- Cat-proofing




~S$100
~S$30
~S$50
~S$50

Total: S$230

Recurring Costs
Cat food (dry food only)
- Cat litter (1 bag a month)
- Medical (yearly check-up)
- Grooming (once a month)


~S$576
~S$480
~S$50
~S$600

Total: S$1,706 yearly

Do refer to the table above to see the one-off and recurring costs of owning a cat in Singapore. To ensure an even comparison, we'll just take the basic necessities that a cat owner requires for their feline.

In total, you should expect to pay around S$1,936 within the first year of owning a cat. Subsequently, you should be paying around S$1,706 yearly. And since a cat lives for 12 to 18 years, the total cost of cat ownership should cost you around S$20,702 to S$30,938.

As mentioned, this is just an average cost on the modest side. Since medical bills and other expenditures may arise, you should set a buffer of at least 10 - 15% into the total costs of cat ownership.

By now, you can probably tell that cat ownership is not exactly an affordable affair. However, the joy of caring and having a cuddly companion can't exactly be measured in dollars and sense, which is probably why I have four cats at home!

If you have plans to own a cat in Singapore, and wish to keep the ownership cost low, my recommendations are as follows:

  • Adopt a cat instead of buying one
  • Always compare prices for vet visits, food, litter, grooming, etc.
  • Take advantage of promotions - online pet stores tend to run more promotions than brick-and-mortar stores
  • Use cashback credit cards for your online purchases to earn cashback!

 As the saying goes "time spent with cats is never wasted."


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