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Para Publishing

The Older Cat


Helping You to Recognize Decline and Extend Life

The Lifetime Costs of a Cat

by Dan Poynter


A cat is an investment; there are costs and rewards. Stephen Zawistowski, Ph.D., Senior vice-president of the ASPCA in New York has calculated the costs of rais­ing a cat from birth through the average 16-year life. The cost will vary with the cat’s size, health (no major medi­cal bills), life­span and choices be­tween burial and cremation. The costs per year break down as follows:


$200-250      Food, dry kibble

$125            Vet visits      

$200-250      Kitty litter   

$200            Accessories: Bowls, brushes, 

                  carriers, litter boxes, etc.

$15-20         Toys and treats

$795            Total annual cost


Over 16 years, that works out to $12,720 or $2.18 per day. By the way, the costs of a second cat are lower. Many of the items may be shared except for food and vet bills.

Now just what do you get for your money?


ö   Naming rights. You may give her a single name or two or just call her “Kitty.”

ö   Glimpses of God’s work every day. Your angel here on earth.

ö   Endless purring and Velcro hugs.

ö   Photographs of playtime secured to the refrigerator with magnets.

ö   A front-row seat to history to witness her first mouse, the pride of successful potty training and her discovery of the cat in the mirror.

ö   Endless wonder over string, bugs and running water.

ö   An education in feline psychology, organs of the body, animal nutrition, waste management and communications.

ö   A furry friend to wake you up on cold nights with demands to get under the covers.

ö   She lets you know that she knows the difference between a can of freshly opened, warm cat food and yesterday’s cold food from the refrigerator.

ö   Finding that cats age better than people because their fur hides the wrinkles.

ö   Finding and saving her baby teeth and not being subjected to Tooth Fairy extortion.

ö   Teaching her to jump on the bed rather than clawing her way up, by trimming her nails.

ö   Being envious of the luxury of being able to stare out a window for hours.

ö   Laughing when she first discovers her tail.

ö   Doing the math to discover that your 12-year old cat is 55 in people years but that since she naps 18 hours each day, she slept through 75 percent of her years of both kinds.

ö   Being a hero for retrieving a toy from the roof, getting her down from a tree, chasing off the neighborhood dog, bringing home a new bag of kitty litter, blotting car grease out of her tail, and giving her kitty treats just for the asking.

ö   Having enough shedded fur to make a wardrobe of sweaters.

ö   Admiring her ability to find the warm spot in any room—often on top of the TV with her tail hanging down in front of the screen.

ö   Accepting her kneading you and sometimes drooling to demonstrate acceptance as her caretaker.


In the eyes of your cat, you are both mother and dad—you rank right up there with God. You have the authority to provide food, the power to heal and the right to share unconditional love. Your cat will love you absolutely, even when you are upset, without counting the cost.


© Dan Poynter, 2001