copyright Kate Tull

Tiny, expensive bundles of joy.

You’ve been thinking about it, and you’ve decided that you are ready to add a kitten to your family. They’re sweet, they’re fluffy, and there are tons of them around, so why not? You decided not to go through a breeder, and have booted up petfinder.com and have found a couple of candidates. And then you get to the adoption fees section, and you screech to a halt.

A hundred and fifty dollars to adopt a kitten?! That’s highway robbery! Where do they get off?!

It sounds like a lot of money, but you should slow your roll on it. Recently, my cat (who I’d adopted from a friend) unexpectedly gave birth to a litter of kittens. Had I gone through a shelter, that would never have happened. I love both her and the little furballs, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, but that might well have been better. See, kittens are not without costs. But don’t take my word for it, let me break it down for you*:

  • Vet visit $35.00
  • Rabies Vaccine $21.00
  • Strongid (de-worm) $15.00
  • Revolution (heartworm control) $18.00
  • Medical Waste Fee (test for worms) $4.00
  • FVRCP Vaccine $20.00
  • Feline Triple Test (HW/FIV/FELV) $60.00

You’ll have to visit the vet three times ($105) – to get the FVRCP Vaccine and its two boosters ($60) – and you’ll have to pay two medical waste fees ($8) to confirm the kitten is worm-free. Now you’re up to $287, per kitten. That’s not including the cost of spaying ($200) or neutering ($150) your furry friend, which is something all cat owners should do. Add all that up, and you’re looking at $437 – $487. Sure, there are discount spay/neuter programs. If you are on public assistance, the ASPCA will spay your cat for free. Otherwise, it’s a $125 charge for either procedure.

When you really sit down and look at what you get when you go through a shelter, that $150 – $200 doesn’t look so bad: you’ll be going home with a pet that has had all of their tests and vaccines, has been certified healthy by a vet, and has been fixed. For at least a third of the cost that you’d face from acquiring one elsewhere.

Shelters aren’t looking to make a profit off your adoption. They’re not even looking to break even. They are trying to get a small percentage of their costs back so they can continue housing, helping, and placing animals that are in need.

So, you’re looking for a kitten? Go to your local shelter. And if you don’t have room in your life for one now, consider making a donation, anyway.

*These are all based on my vet bills, at a reasonably priced vet in Brooklyn, New York.