How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Cat?

Young kitten
Adopting a kitten from a shelter or rescue group is less expensive than buying one from a breeder.

GETTY IMAGES/Sebastian Condrea

If you have made the decision to adopt a new cat or kitten, congratulations! Adding a new feline friend to the family is exciting, but it can also be a little nerve-wracking as you navigate the logistics. One of the very first questions you might be wondering is how much it costs to adopt a cat.

The cost of adopting a cat or kitten varies wildly depending on where you live, whether you want to rescue a mixed-breed or purebred cat or kitten from an animal shelter or private rescue group, or if you want to purchase a purebred kitten from a breeder. 

Very generally, says you can expect to pay $0 to $200 to adopt a cat or kitten, depending on the organization you adopt from. If you are hoping to purchase a purebred kitten from a breeder, the Cat Fanciers Association says you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $1,500 for most breeds (though some exotic breeds, such as Bengals, can cost as much as $3,000). 

Take a look at the various places you can adopt your new cat, what you might expect to pay, and what is included in the adoption fee or purchase price. 

Deciding Where to Adopt a Cat

You have many options when it comes to adopting your new cat or kitten. Some of the most common ways people bring home a new cat include:

  • Animal shelter
  • Private rescue group
  • Cat breeder

Before adopting a new pet from any group or individual, do your homework to find out what type of cats are available. For instance, some groups may only have adult cats available, while others might have adult cats and kittens. Also check out how the animals are cared for and what’s included in the adoption fee or purchase price. 

Adopting from an Animal Shelter 

Animal shelters usually have adult cats available for adoption, and depending on the time of year, might also have kittens available, too. It’s even possible to find purebred cats in animal shelters, though these are usually adults and not kittens. At an animal shelter, the adoption fee usually includes some or all of the following: veterinary checkup, feline leukemia/FIV testing, vaccines, deworming, flea and tick treatment, spaying or neutering, and a microchip.

Adopting from a Rescue Group

Like animal shelters, private rescue groups usually have adult cats and may have kittens too, especially in springtime, which is kitten season. Some private rescue groups are even focused on purebred cats, and even if they aren’t, it’s sometimes possible to find a purebred cat through a rescue group. All rescue groups operate differently, so what the adoption fee includes can vary. Ask up front what the fee covers. Often, it’s similar to the types of things included in an animal shelter adoption fee, such as a veterinary checkup, feline leukemia/FIV testing, vaccines, deworming, flea and tick treatment, spaying or neutering, and a microchip.

Buying a Kitten from a Breeder

If you have your heart set on a purebred kitten, a reputable breeder is your best bet. Do your homework ahead of time to make sure the breeder you choose is responsible and ethical. Buying a purebred kitten is more expensive than adopting one from an animal shelter or rescue group. The purchase price of a purebred kitten usually doesn’t include spaying or neutering, microchip, so budget to pay for those separately. The purchase price does usually include a veterinary checkup as well as some vaccines and deworming. Good breeders usually offer some kind of health guarantee, which is a warranty that the kitten will not develop a breed-associated genetic health issue. 

The Bottom Line

Adopting a cat or kitten from an animal shelter or rescue group is generally the least expensive option, and usually includes some medical care. Some animal shelters even run occasional promotions waiving the adoption fee. Buying a kitten from a breeder is more expensive, and usually doesn’t cover the cost of spaying or neuter, which can run in the hundreds of dollars. No matter where you obtain your new cat or kitten, you can’t put a price on the many years of love you will share together.