How Much Does It Cost To Adopt A Shelter Cat?

The rates to adopt a shelter cat can vary widely, depending on how much care the cat has needed and what tests are done before he’s ready for adoption. In general, between $50 and $150 is common.

What to Expect

Abandoned cat behind the fence in animal shelter. Pet adoption. Playful tabby cat.

You can expect the cat to be spayed or neutered or you’ll be given a certificate for the surgery at a shelter-approved veterinary hospital.

“In California, it’s a state law that pets be spayed or neutered before they leave the shelter so this might happen as early as eight weeks of age or if the age is unknown when the cat weighs at least two pounds,” says Aimee Gilbreath who works with Found Animals in Los Angeles.

Kitty will have his rabies shot, also required by law, and probably a distemper shot as well.

After that, it depends more on the budget of the shelter as to what else is included. Some shelters add in other vaccinations, de-worming and antibiotics as needed.

A microchip is a bonus - if it’s not included, ask if one can be injected. You’ll have to update the information with the microchip company so they have your contact information, not the shelter’s.

Even though the kitty is now going to be an indoor cat, there’s always the chance that a door will be left open or a window screen is loose. A microchip improves his chances of coming home if he makes the great escape.

Adoption Process

The Iroquois County Animal Rescue (Illinois), also known as ICare, rescues cats from animal control, high kill shelters, and takes in strays.

They also handle pregnant cats, litters, abandoned cats, sick or injured kitties and “nuisance” cats that someone has complained about.

Cat at an Animal Shelter

The adoption application is three pages long. “It’s long because we want to get an idea of the person’s lifestyle. Will a cat fit in better than a kitten?

Can they financially care for a cat and provide food and basic vet visits?” says Margaret Fox, volunteer for ICare. “We check veterinary references. We want to make sure that the cat is going to a forever home.”


The Cost

Hand of a woman petting a scared and shy cat that is lying in a cage at a shelter

Fees are $80 for an adult cat, $90 for a kitten, and $100 for a purebred cat.

“We want the people who are willing to take an adult cat instead of insisting they want a cute baby, to have a little extra benefit,” says Fox. “The cute factor will always get a kitten adopted. The adults need a little extra help.”

Pets from ICare receive a rabies shot, two distemper shots, are dewormed twice, are tested for feline leukemia and feline AIDS, are spayed or neutered, and receive a microchip.

“This is in addition to caring for any illness or injuries they have when they arrive,” says Fox. “We often spend more on the veterinary fees than the adoption fee brings in. We want to provide an affordable adoption to get the cat the best home.”

ICare doesn’t take owner turn-ins unless there’s an extreme reason—the death of the owner, serious illness, or the need for nursing home care.

“In cases of owner turn-ins, the cats miss the family so much, it causes problems,” says Fox. Cats won’t eat or groom themselves and are generally depressed.

How to Come Up with the Best Decision

Small Shelter kitten with Yellow eyes

When adopting a shelter cat, take a look at your lifestyle. Do you want a lap cat? An older adult cat might be best. Do you want an active playmate for another cat?

Look at a younger kitty. If there are young children in the home, a kitten won’t be the best choice—sharp claws and teeth and little hands won’t be happy together.

An older person isn’t a good candidate for a kitten either—a zooming kitten can cause a fall, a scratch can tear fragile skin.

The shelter or rescue people know the cats best. Ask for their advice and then follow your heart. If there’s room, get two.


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13 comments on “How Much Does It Cost To Adopt A Shelter Cat?

Victoria Malfitano-Goins January 13, 2023
Where are you located?
phyllisjones June 12, 2013
I just started volunteering for Save A Pet Florida as an adoption rep. You're right icy87 we are thorough before letting just anyone adopt. We would love to see all the kitties go to a home but there are so many people that decide that it's too much work and abandon the animal. The adoption fee is $89.00 and they have all shots, micrchipped, neutered/spayed and you will leave with their medical record. We have adoptions every Sat & Sun from 11:00 - 4:00 at the Petco in Jupiter Fl. If anyone lives in Palm Beach County and is serious about adopting a cat or dog please stop in and visit us. Petco, 901 Indiantown Rd Jupiter, Fl. If I didn't have 2 cats already I would have taken in a momma cat and her 2 kittens but I also need a bigger home.
icy87 June 12, 2013
We paid $120 for our cat but I have to say, it was well worth it. The shelter is very thorough and though that might be tedious for the buyer, its the best for their kitties. He came with all his shots, spayed and microchipped. I can't wait to get another kitty, but I need a bigger home..
aprilyim June 10, 2013
I adopted Simba from the North Shore Animal League of America ( when he was approximately 1.5 yrs old. The adoption fee was $55.00. Prior to the adoption, he was neutered by their medical center, vaccinated, and treated for roundworms. They did a brief background check on us and I remember feeling so excited in the waiting room.
phyllisjones June 7, 2013
my sammy cost $50.00 and she was spayed, microchiped, and had all her shots. The shelter I adopted her from required a check for $50.00 and they let you take the kitty home for a "test drive". If you form a good relationship with yourself and other pets and sign the final adoption papers that's when the shelter will cash your check. That being said and I already have a kitty, I had to buy seperate cat box, dishes, bed, food, adding up to over another $100.00..But it's worth it.
lovecats123 June 5, 2013
coco has a liver issue inside of her ears are yellow. The yellow pee is from the liver. Just cost $150 for fluids, antibiotic,pill to increase appetite n visit yikes I think that is steep at least for me. Prognosis guarded. So we wait and see :(((
cathylcar June 4, 2013
I paid $105.00 for the cat I adopted at Camarillo animal shelter. The group I am fostering for has different charges for kittens to Sr cats but there is absolutely no profit involved
my2kittycats June 4, 2013
Our humane society does everything including micro-chip. Adoptions are $100 per animal but they are running a special this month. All cats over 6 months old are $25.
lovecats123 June 3, 2013
coco ate some today I watered her food down but she peed on her pink bed and now it is dark amber. She will NOT drink any water. Have appt at vets, made me wait until dr available after surgeries. D PS atleast she is still peeing
marcocat27 June 3, 2013
Catman2 Inc charges $80.00. This includes leukemia test, rabies shot, spay or neuter and d/L shots. We lose money on every adoption. We have to grobble to raise the difference. This is no way to make a living. It is a labor of love for the insane. Harold
matts mom June 3, 2013
Matt was 150 from a no-kill shelter. a little steeper than say getting an online kitty, but that fee allows them to vet and spay/neuter the animal, and they save cats from the humane society's kill list as quickly as their cages come open. We got him at age 2, thinking that an adult stray would have less chance at adoption that the adorable kittens they had---In memory of the cat we had just lost we wanted to save another.
lovecats123 June 3, 2013
At my local kill shelter it was $110 and that included vaccines, chip and spaying and big bag of food. She is a siamese burmese with big blue eyes triangle head. However she is only lasting a year she was 5 when I got her and I as of this post she is going to kitty heaven with liver and kidney failure that is taking her life in less than a week. I first.noticed the problem when she peed on my bed last week and it was bright yellow. I didn't have a clue but after checking this site, I was able to figure it out. Mixed her food with water and that helped but only a little. She is so pretty, just beautiful :(((( Her name is coco bean. Please give a prayer she isn't suffering.
betsygee June 2, 2013
We have three rescue kitties from our local SPCA. I don't remember exactly, but I think the fees were around $120 each including spaying, microchip, and vaccines. But we got our first two on a "two for one" sale because they wanted to adopt out the brother and sister together. :-)

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