Cats vs. Dogs – Which Pet is More Affordable?

So you say you’re ready to bring a fluffy bundle of joy home, but you can’t decide between getting a cat or a dog?

MagnifyMoney may just be able to help, at least where your budget is concerned. They broke down the costs of owning a cat and a dog, so you can decide which of the most popular pets in the U.S. you’d like to bring home next.

They didn’t just stop at determining the annual cost of kibble or Fancy Feast.

They looked at how much a dog and cat costs in the first year of ownership — and how much each pet costs over their lifetime.

Check out these findings below.


Cats: $125 to $635
Dogs: $197 to $1,090

The Winner: IS CATS!

These are the initial start-up costs of taking in a cat or a dog — adoption fees, accessories like leashes and food dishes, and veterinary services like spaying/neutering and vaccinations. To get these estimates, they used the latest data from

Your first-year expenses as a cat or dog owner could range anywhere from $125 to a bit more than $1,000 depending on the size, breed, and accommodations your new pet would require, according to Petfinder.

Overall, you would shell out less for a cat up front — as little as a $125. That is, if you take advantage of savings during adoption, shop around to save on your initial veterinary costs, and use coupons when buying accessories or toys for your furball.

On the high end, if your kitty is an expensive breed or you simply like to spoil your feline companion, you’d spend around $635 during the first year.

Recurring Annual Costs:

The costs will not end after you bring Fido (or Fluffy) home. You should budget about $1,125 yearly on vet visits, food, boarding, toys, and also thegrooming for a cat, and about $1,641 on a dog, according to the American Pet Products Association’s most recent National Pet Owners Survey.


The Lifetime Cost of Having a Dog or a Cat:

Cats: $13,625 to $17,510
Dogs: $16,607 to $22,423


If the decision came down to your wallet, cats are potentially cheaper than dogs, costing about $13,625 to $17,510 in its lifetime, compared to dogs at $16,607 to $22,423.

They based the lifetime costs on the average lifespan of dogs (10-13 years) and cats (12-15 years).

However, even though cats typically live two to three years longer than dogs, they still come out more affordable in the end.