The unconditional love of a pet makes it hard to place a value on a cute little puppy or kitten. But according to a recent RateSupermarket.ca study, the cost of a pet in its first 12 months of is approximately $2,600 for a puppy and $1,900 for a kitten.
Can you really put a cost on a furry companion or a fluffy confidant?
It’s that time of year when families start to consider bringing home a furry companion for the holidays – and even more so if the kids have been begging for one all year long. A cute little puppy or kitten could be the gift from Santa they’ll never forget.
However, potential pet owners should understand that owning a dog or cat is more than just filling bowls with food and water and going for leisurely walks through the park – especially when your pet is just in its first year of life.
According to research done by RateSupermarket.ca, the cost of a pet in its first 12 months is $2,600.10 for a puppy and $1,921.12 for a kitten.
The bulk of the costs to care for a puppy or kitten come from first-time essential purchases, such as a bed, bowls, a collar, a leash, a carrier and a kennel.
Veterinary costs, while significant initially, may also dip over the years, considering certain one-time procedures, like spaying or neutering and implanting an identification microchip.
Ongoing expenses, of course, include food and litter as well an annually-renewable licence required by most municipalities to own a dog or cat.
Pet insurance often overlooked
Pet health insurance is also an important consideration that many potential pet owners may overlook when budgeting for a dog or cat.
As technology and modern medicine advances for humans, so do emergency procedures and treatments for pets, which means they also come with a big price tag.
Depending on the breed, a typical pet insurance policy could cost you around $20 to $60 a month. However, a broken leg, hip problems, ear infections, swallowing foreign objects, diabetes, or urinary tract infections can cost you thousands of dollars without pet insurance. All it takes is one accident or illness to justify the cost of pet insurance.
Our study estimated pet insurance to cost $591.69 per year for a puppy, and $357.11 for a kitten.
Comparing the costs of a puppy and a kitten
Whether you see your pet as friend or family, chances are you would do almost anything for them. But before picking a pet to take home, be prepared to eventually dish out thousands of dollars.
Coming in at almost $700 less than a dog, a cat is easily the cheaper option when choosing a pet – at least certainly in the first year. While cats and dogs do share a lot of the same expenses, some of them differ in cost (like spaying and neutering procedures) and some items are particular to one and not the other (cats need litter boxes and scratching posts whereas dogs need obedience classes).
Check out the breakdown of our pet cost comparison below.
How to save on your pet
Adopt a pet
Keep in mind, when you purchase an animal from a pet store, breeder or through a newspaper ad, not only is it typically more expensive than going through a shelter, but you may also be perpetuating breeding mills that may be treating the animals cruelly.
Shelter adoption fees, on the other hand, are generally less than $200 for dogs and $100 for cats, and this fee often includes neutering or spaying as well as the first round of vaccines – saving you on veterinary costs as well.
Keep your pet healthy and happy by going for walks and playing in the park. Even letting your cat in the backyard for an hour every day can ensure an active lifestyle. A healthy pet will translate into the amount you spend on vet visits.
However, keep an eye on your pet when it is outdoors to ensure it doesn’t ingest any foreign objects. Some vets even recommend buying your cat a protected outdoor enclosure instead of letting them roam free. Healthy indoor cats can easily live 15 to 17 years — over 10 years more than outdoor cats!
Shop around for food
Pet food can be fairly expensive – especially if you have a big dog or cat that eats just as much as a child. As you peruse the flyers for deals on your own groceries, look for savings and coupons on pet food. Or try online retailers like Amazon.ca for reduced prices.
You could even save money by using your credit card points towards dog or cat chow. If you don’t have a grocery rewards card, the President’s Choice Financial MasterCard offers 10 PC points per $1 spent, which is why it won Best Card for Groceries at the 2017 Best of Finance Awards.
The President’s Choice Financial World Elite MasterCard also offers 30 PC points per $1 spent at participating grocery stores where President’s Choice® products are sold, on top of 10 PC points per $1 everywhere else. PC points can then be used towards groceries and any products at participating stores where President’s Choice® products are sold and 10,000 points are equal to $10 in groceries!
For a limited time, you can also get a $100 e-gift card when you sign up through RateSupermarket.ca and activate your PC card.
Just ensure you are ultimately buying food with nutrition content in mind, not just price. A lot of “cheaper” foods will contain ingredients like animal by-products, food dyes and corn and wheat gluten, which may not be the healthiest for your pet.
This post has been updated.