Pet Ownership Costs: Are Your Prepared?

pet ownership costs

Talking with my college-age son about his living arrangements for the next school year, he indicated he wanted to stay in a pet-friendly apartment complex. On the plus side, studies have shown pets help college students deal better with the stress of university life. Looking at the negative of this idea, pet ownership costs might create obstacles for him.

We don’t know yet whether he will lean towards a cat or a dog, some sources indicate that the one-time pet ownership costs for dogs ($565) far outweigh those of cats ($365), but that the routine annual pet expenses for cats ($705) surpass those of dogs ($695), but just by a whisker!

For the purposes of this blog, I am assuming he is going to go with a cat, thinking a cat will require less maintenance than a dog.  Besides spending time with the pet, working extra hours at his part-time job next year might be necessary to cover these expenses.

The website identified these typical pet ownership costs:

One-Time Pet Ownership Costs 

  • Spaying or neutering:  $145 (usually covered in adoption fee if adopting from rescue or shelter)
  • Initial medical exam:  $130 (Some vets offer initial exam free of charge if pet is adopted)
  • Collar/leash:  $10
  • Litter box: $25
  • Scratching post: $15
  • Carrying crate: $40

Annual Cost of Pet Ownership

  • Food:  $145
  • Annual medical exams:  $130
  • Litter:  $200
  • Toys/treats:  $25
  • Pet health insurance (if purchased): $175
  • Miscellaneous:  $30

Cost Saving Options

There are options to reduce costs of pet services and supplies. Websites such as Amazon, Petflow and offer an extensive variety of pet supplies at lower prices than traditional pet retailers.  In addition, these services deliver to your home, saving a trip to the store for pet supplies.  These services have autoship available which help save even more money.

CareCredit offers payment arrangements to help pay for costly pet procedures or unexpected expenses that often come up for pet guardians.

And in my son’s case…. allergy medicine since he’s allergic to pet dander. Don’t forget to budget for a vacuum cleaner and several lint rollers to get rid of pet hair, too!

In reality, I don’t know if his dreams of having a pet while in college will come to fruition. I will watch for the tell-tale signs of pet hair all over him!



Written by Ann Butenas

Ann Butenas

An internationally-recognized author and writer, Ann began her professional writing career at age 12 and began speaking while in college. She has been published thousands of times over the past three decades in all media forms, was former editor and publisher of KC Metro Woman magazine, and has also hosted three talk radio shows in the Kansas City area.

2 Responses to "Pet Ownership Costs: Are Your Prepared?"

  1. It definitely is expensive to have pets! I don’t even want to know what I spend in a year on all my pets! With 6 cats, a dog, and 2 sugar gliders, it definitely adds up! I hope your son finds the perfect pet to suit his needs, and that he finds a way to afford it. College is much better with a pet 🙂

    1. Yes, I hear that! I have one cat, two dogs and do my best to save money while not compromising on quality, it’s tough. I can imagine you spend way more for your crew than I do for mine. All the other supplies add up too, but they’re family, so it’s worth it! Pets help with all the stressful situations so much, I agree!

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