This article is republished from my column on Examiner.com, with minor alterations
Which pet is more expensive, a dog, or a cat? A lot of that could depend on the dog or cat you get, because first-year costs for purebreds from a breeder will inevitably be much higher than the adoption fee, and all other associated costs, from a shelter. Add into that the fact that big dogs need much more food, and have more expensive vet care, than either small dogs or cats, and that question can be hard to answer. Generally, though, do cats cost less than dogs?
For just the first year, on average, cats cost less than dogs
The Christian Science Monitor actually did manage to estimate all of the first-year costs of owning both a cat and a dog. For a full breakdown, click here. The first-year costs of owning a cat include the adoption fee, spay/neuter services, vaccinations, the cost of the litter boxes, collars and tags, and grooming materials. Along with the ongoing costs of food, litter, toys and vet visits, in the first year that you have a cat, you can expect to pay a total of $1,035.
Compare that to having a dog, where the first-year costs total $1,843. The Christian Science Monitor gets their estimates from the ASPCA, and, for dogs, does not include things like breeder fees. So yes, for the first year of ownership, cats cost less than dogs.
There are also unexpected expenses, such as vet visits for illness and injury, or irregular costs such as boarding or pet-sitting, and professional grooming, to consider. In other words, when you go to adopt a pet, it’s wise to assume you’ll be spending more than just these estimated costs.
It’s possible that cats cost less than dogs when it comes to your home, too
One thing that the Christian Science Monitor says is that you should consider the costs of potential damage, because both cats and dogs can damage your house. Cats can break things when they tear through the house, and they can scratch up your furniture and walls while you’re training them to scratch their posts. Dogs can destroy walls and doors if they don’t have appropriate outlets for their energy, or if they get badly frightened by something.
However, even though these are estimates, and things inevitably cost more, it’s pretty clear that cats cost less than dogs. Score another one for cats, and cat parents!