Keeping In Mind The Cost of Pets

My family is able to do some travelling this holiday season, and we’ll be out-of-town for several days.  Our great neighbor is going to be caring for our aged cat (and our acting-aged heating system.)  As I went over the details with the neighbor, I started thinking about how much it costs to have a pet.


We’re getting off relatively easily…a teenager to watch a cat isn’t particularly expensive.  Even the old-cat medications that I picked up today didn’t cost too much.  We don’t always get so lucky; sometimes there are big vet bills and quarantine expenses and stays in a kennel when we don’t have friends or family near.

I think that having pets is great, but families need to be sure that they can afford the expenses before they decide to bring a pet into their home.  What sort of expenses do you need to consider?

      • food (special food is ridiculously expensive!)
      • veterinarian expenses
      • transportation when you PCS
      • care when you aren’t home
      • medication
      • quarantine
      • licenses and documentation

You can find estimates all over the place, but most reliable sources estimate that domestic cats and dogs cost between $500 and $1000 per year.   Expenses can spiral quickly for illness or injury, or particular breeds that have known medical issues.

Our “free” cat that was a stray in Hawaii has now lived in four countries all the way around the world.  I’m pretty sure that there are fancy show cats that have been less expensive than our Boy.  He’s been worth it, but he sure hasn’t been free.

It is important to think about these costs before you bring home a pet.  Otherwise, you could find that the expenses exceed your family’s budget.  And that’s not good for anyone.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • guest

    One of my four pets cost me 1500 in just vet bills this year, we’ve spent close to 9k in vet bills on that dog since we adopted him (and that’s WITH insurance). Add in the other three for their yearly shots and random illnesses, pet food, cat litter etc we easily add another 1-2k a year on them. Oh not to mention we have to buy a house at. every. single. duty. station because no one wants to rent to us with 4 pets (one of whom is part bully breed, even though he is a therapy dog) and sometimes I wonder if they are just as pricey as kids (minus college) lol.

    I wouldn’t trade it though, they are all rescue’s and I can’t imagine ever being without them. As I type this I have two large breed mutts and two cats all sleeping within arm length. I probably could have bought a new car with what we’ve spent in the past 5 years though ;-

    Thankfully we are huge anti debt people, and I make a good salary so while a pain in the @ss, the bills aren’t unmanageable