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Budgeting for Your Kitten's First Year

Budgeting Your First Year of Kitten Supplies

Congratulations on welcoming a new kitten into your family! Now you might find yourself wondering how to take care of a kitten and what kitten supplies you will need. To keep your new family member healthy and happy—while also maintaining a healthy bank balance—it’s a good idea to set up a budget for your kitten’s first year.

Veterinary Care

One of the first things to do after bringing home your new kitten is set up an appointment with a local veterinarian. If you don’t already have a trusted veterinarian for your family’s pets, ask the shelter or rescue group where you got your cat or a friend with a cat to recommend one.

Depending on the age of your kitten and where you got them, they may already have some of their vaccines or even be neutered or spayed. A lot of shelters/rescue groups factor in the cost of spay/neuter and initial vaccines into their adoption fees, so you might not need to worry about these expenses at all.

 Kitten vaccines

Rabies vaccinations are at the top of the list; they are required by law in most areas of the country. There are also a number of other vaccines for your kitten including Feline Distemper, FeLV (this protects cats against the feline leukemia virus), FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), Parvovirus (Panleukopenia), Herpesvirus-1 (Viral Rhinotracheitis), and Calicivirus. Consult with your veterinarian to see what is and is not necessary.

Spaying or neutering your kitten

Spaying (for female kittens) costs more than neutering (for male kittens) because the surgery is more invasive. Costs range from as low as $20 at a low-cost clinic up to $300 (for spaying) at a private veterinarian’s office. Prices also vary from state-to-state.

Feeding Supplies

The first item on your list of kitten supplies should be a nutritious meal option. Talk to your veterinarian about what to feed your kitten. Kitten food ranges from organic options, to dry all-natural foods that are grain-free, to canned varieties. Your veterinarian can help you determine the best nutritional options for your kitten within your determined budget.

A can of kitten food can range from $0.50 up to $2 or more. A kitten can eat as much as one small can twice a day or two cups of dry food per day. As your kitten grows, you will want to increase the amount of food they get. Consulting your veterinarian about how much food your pet should eat is an essential part of taking care of a kitten.

You can also purchase cat treats from time-to-time. They range in cost from $1 to $30, and make for great training incentives or meal supplements. Just make sure you don’t overdo it; treats should not exceed 10% of their overall diet.

Your new kitten will also need bowls for food and water. Food and water bowls come in a wide range of styles, sizes, and colors. You can even find some that match your kitchen décor. Bowl prices run the gamut from $2 to $50.

IIn lieu of a water bowl, you can treat your cat to a water fountain. Kittens like the movement of water while it also helps deliver a more continuous supply of fresh water. Cat water fountains range in price from $35 to up to $125.

Sifting Through Litter Boxes

The other must-have item is a litter box, which runs from $25 to $40. There are even self-cleaning boxes that cost upwards of $100. You can buy a litter box with a lid, which minimizes the flinging of cat litter after your kitten has done their business. Just make sure that your kitten has easy access to the litter box. Most kittens instinctively know to use it. If not, you can purchase special cat litter that attracts cats to using the litter box. This cat litter usually runs around $12 for an eight-pound bag.

The type of litter you buy is up to you. There are recycled corn and newspaper varieties, as well as clay and clumping kinds. Be aware that some cats can be fussy about the litter you choose, so you may have to try multiple options before you get it right. Litter prices average under $10 for an 8-pound bag. Keep in mind that kittens and cats won’t use a dirty litter box. So, you will want to purchase a litter scoop to toss out the mess. Litter scoops cost $3-$5.

Safety is Important.

Even if your pet spends all of their time indoors, add a collar to the list when shopping for kitten supplies. Have your kitten wear a breakaway collar with an ID tag. Breakaway collars do what their name says—if their collar gets caught on an object, it will break away, helping to prevent your kitten from being hurt. ID tags are important and need to have your name, your kitten’s name, and your phone number on it. Kittens wearing collars with ID tags are more likely to be returned if they get lost. ID tags and collars range in price from as low as two dollars to as high as $40. Some ID tags can run between $10 and $12.

You might also want to get your pet microchipped. Microchips are the size of a grain of rice and contain your contact information. If your pet is lost and winds up at a shelter or veterinarian’s office and they have the scanning equipment, they can scan your pet, and contact you— reuniting you with your lost companion. Microchips cost between $30 and $100 and must be implanted by a veterinarian during an office visit or at a low-cost vaccination clinic.

You will also need a carrier to transport your kitten to the veterinarian. Leave the carrier out so they get used to it. This way, when it comes time to go to the vet, they will not run and hide. Carriers range the gamut from $20 to over $100.


Good grooming habits are an essential part of taking care of a kitten, so get them accustomed to a good brushing! Consider this quality time between the two of you, and something that your kitten will learn to enjoy. Frequent brushing also cuts down on hairballs, and keeps shedding to a minimum. Brushes range in price from $6 to $55.

new cat tips

Scratching Posts

It’s in a cat’s nature to scratch. Encourage them with a few scratching posts or other cat furniture around your house. When they scratch often, the outer nail sheath is pulled off. This exposes the sharp nails beneath, so make sure you get your kitten into a bi-weekly routine of clipping their nails. For this, you will need a nail clipper, which runs between $5 and $25. You will also need styptic powder, and to learn how to clip nails. Scratching posts also range in price from $8 dollars for a simple cardboard one that comes with catnip to more elaborate models with carpeting on them that can cost upwards of $60.

Cat Beds

You can train your kitten to sleep in a cat bed. Most cats like to curl up in warm spots like near a radiator, on your bed, or near a sunny window, so you will want to place the bed near a warm area in your home. Cat beds come in an assortment of different shapes, sizes and materials. Some are made from recycled materials. You may want to give your cat a cushioned shelf near a window or a window perch. Prices range from under $5 to $200.

A Rainy Day Fund

You might not need it—and hopefully you won’t—but having emergency money set aside for accidents or illnesses is a smart idea as emergency veterinary visits can get costly. In an emergency, it is a good idea to have at least $300 to $400 on hand. If a pet breaks a leg, for instance, the cost can run over $2,000. If a large vet bill does occur, talk to your veterinarian about a weekly payment plan. You can also look into purchasing pet insurance before an emergency happens so unforeseen costs can be slightly more manageable. If your pet gets sick or injured a number of pet insurance plans can help cover the bills. Not all pet insurance plans cover everything, though, so be sure to do your research. Even in the same company, there are different levels of coverage. If you are considering purchasing pet insurance, check with friends or family members who have it for their pets, and do your homework.

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