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Choosing a Cat or Kitten

Cats make wonderful pets and most will easily adjust to a variety of lifestyles and living spaces. Every cat is an individual, so it is important to take the time to choose a feline companion that is right for you.

When selecting a cat there are many factors to consider before making your choice. These include:

  • The age, appearance and breed of the cat
  • Your lifestyle and whether it is ‘pet friendly’
  • The amount of time you can devote to your cat
  • The cost of feeding and caring for a cat, including vaccinations and veterinary care

What is the cost of owning a cat?

Choosing to become a cat owner is a big decision and it’s important to understand the financial commitment involved before purchasing a pet.

The Animal Health Alliance’s report ‘Pet Ownership in Australia 2013’ estimated the average annual cost of ownership as $1,591 per cat. Their estimate was based on the following costs:




Pet food

$ 329

Veterinary services

$ 217

Pet healthcare products

$ 103


$ 100

Products or accessories

$ 56

Pet insurance

$ 167


$ 208


$ 89

Training behaviour/therapy

$ 58




$ 52

Pet purchases

$ 119


$ 93

Total per year


Bankwest’s ‘Family Pooch Index’ estimated that the average family spends $1,772 annually on owning a cat. The RSPCA NSW estimates that a cat costs between $1,150 and $3,570 in the first year of purchase, with the ongoing cost being a minimum of $880 per year.

The above estimates suggest that the cost of owning a cat may range from $880 to $1,772 per year. A cat can live up to 15 years, so the lifetime cost of owning a cat is a considerable budget commitment which may range from $13,200 to $26,580.

Examples of the costs involved in owning a cat include:

  • Pet food
  • Veterinary services
  • Litter
  • Microchipping
  • Desexing
  • Pet insurance - CHOICE’s ‘Pet insurance buying guide’ suggests the cost of pet insurance ranges from $130 up to $1300 per year, depending on factors like the pet’s age and level of cover chosen
  • Grooming
  • Health care products
  • Toys and accessories

These estimates don’t comprehensively estimate every cost of owning a cat, however they provide a good indication of the kinds of expenses involved and the lifetime costs of owning a cat. It is important to make an informed choice when purchasing a cat and carefully consider the lifetime financial commitment owning a pet involves.


Personality and behaviour

Every cat has a different personality, from playful and attention-loving to laidback and independent.

Regardless of individual personality, cats should be sociable, active, alert, and comfortable when being held and stroked. Spend some time with each cat you are considering before making a choice.

If you are adopting a cat from a shelter, remember that cats that are usually quite social can be frightened or passive when in this unfamiliar environment.

Kitten or cat?

The age of the cat you acquire will depend on the level of maturity you are looking for, and the amount of time you have to devote to your pet. Kittens are curious, playful, and full of energy, while adult cats are more relaxed and less mischievous.

If you are considering a kitten, it is important to remember that young children often do not know how to interact with them responsibly. Kittens are fragile and can be injured by young children who do not know how to handle them. Furthermore, children may be scratched during play, as kittens have extremely sharp claws.

Cat and kittens should be supervised around very young children and toddlers.

Short-haired or long-haired?

Long-haired cats require daily grooming to maintain a mat-free coat. Cats with short coats also require brushing, but not as often. Consider how much time you have to groom your cat.

Room for one more?

Before acquiring a cat you should consider the pets you already have and the by-laws of your local council. Introducing a new cat to a home with resident pets will require patience on your part.

Cats can get along with other cats and, despite the common stereotype, with most dogs. Most cats will learn to accept each other, and some may become the best of friends. Some dogs will not tolerate the presence of a cat, but if you introduce the new pet slowly and carefully, most issues can be avoided.

It is important to provide safe havens for your new cat so it can get away from the other animal/s when it needs a break. These may include a tall scratching gym, a shelf or window ledge, a basket, or an ‘igloo’-style bed.

Be responsible!

Regardless of the cat you choose, you must be a responsible cat owner. The most effective way to do this is to keep your cat contained on your property from the moment you bring it home. If you do not let your cat roam beyond your property, it will never miss it. Your cat will have a much longer and happier life if it is contained.

Responsible cat ownership includes having your cat desexed. Desexing will ensure that your cat is unable to add to the millions of unwanted kittens born each year. It will also reduce the likelihood of your cat wanting to stray and will increase its life expectancy.

Identify your cat! Under current legislation your cat should be identified with a collar and tag with your contact details or as a more permanent form of ID, a microchip.

Adopt a cat for life

When you acquire a cat you are making a commitment to love and care for your new pet for its entire life. Cats can live into their late teens or early twenties, so choose your companion carefully.