How Much Does It Cost To Have A Litter Of Kittens?
And so it begins
Planning for a litter of kittens starts well before the magic happens. Reputable breeders first spend countless hours researching pedigrees and lines. Once a decision is made as to what direction they would like to take their program, the waiting game begins. If a breeder is lucky, they may only have to wait months for their perfect cat but this is usually not the case. Breeders may sometimes wait years for the ideal cat to be born or offered for their program and in which case, they have to wait for at least one male and one female.
Getting the kitty
The perfect cat is finally found. The breeder has paid anywhere from $2,000-20,000 for their ONE cat. That's right! I said up to $20,000 for one cat. Now the job comes of getting the kitty. There are many factors to this equation. First, is the cat being purchased nationally or internationally ? Then second, is the cat being shipped as cargo or is an agent going to fly with the cat?
If nationally and being shipped as cargo, shipping of the cat typically costs around $300. This does not include a mandatory health certificate, airline approved carrier, and bedding for inside of the carrier. This will additionally cost around $100.
If the cat is coming nationally with an agent, shipping can range from $200-500. Plus, you may still need a carrier and bedding.
Shipping a cat internationally with an agent can range from $500-1000. Again, bedding and carrier may need to be purchased.
When internationally shipping a cat as cargo, a rabies certificate and health certificated are mandatory. This needs to be added to the price of an airline approved carrier and bedding. Breeders need an agent to present the cat to customs and act on their behalf. This in itself can cost over $200. The price of shipping without all of the above fees is between $700-$1,500.
Kitty has arrived
Once a breeder finally has their new kitty for their breeding program, testing begins. A trip to the vet to ensure the cat is free from FIV and FeLV, which are both deadly and contagious, is just the beginning. The breeder may chose to do a fecal PCR at this time also. My vet charges $34 for FIV/FeLV and $145 for a fecal PCR. This does not include the $42 office visit.
I choose to send my cats DNA into UC Davis to ensure that my cats are negative for PKD and PRA-pd regardless if the person I got my cats from has previously done it. UC Davis charges $65 for this test. At this time, I may also add an additional test to see if my cat is a carrier of dilute, and see if they are homozygous or heterozygous agouti which is an additional $40.
Caring for the future breeding cat is not as inexpensive as one may think. Grooming is just one aspect of this. There are numerous shampoos that are needed with some of them costing $100 a bottle. The breeder buys many kinds of shampoos to see what will work well with the cats coat so it may look its best. My shampoos average $25 a bottle.
Special equipment is also needed for grooming. I have stand up dryers, cage dryers, and handheld dryers that range anywhere from $99-399. The clippers that I choose to use along with accessories was around $500. Replacement blades cost $30.
A quality comb will cost about $30 (you will need several of these and also several different types), and a good pair of scissors cost between $100-250. Keeping a spare pair is nice to have while the other is out being sharpened. To say a breeder spends $500/year on grooming products and supplies is a conservative statement.
Some breeders get away with using a spare bathroom to groom their cats or even the kitchen sink. I chose to have a grooming room built. Having additional rooms built is definitely a costly venture!
Husbandry is an essential part of having a cattery. Breeders need to keep the areas where the cats live clean and sanitary so the animals may have a healthy life. In order to do this, the breeder uses special cleaning agents that kill fungus, bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and parasites. In some instances, a fogger is used with these cleaning agents. A fogger costs around $300 and over the course of a year a breeder may spend over $400 in cleaning supplies.
Cat litter, food, dishes, litter boxes, litter pails, scratching posts, toys, etc are also needed. They also need to be replaced from time to time. Add another $2,000 to the investment with an annual approximation of $600 for food.
Are the breeders cats housed in separate rooms because the male sprays? If so, were the rooms built specifically for the cat and do the have their own ventilation system? Well, this can cost the breeder upwards of $10,000.
The breeder has their kitty and would now like to get a title on their cat at a cat show. These days, most breeders purchase a SturdiCage for their cat. If you are lucky, you can get one during a sale, otherwise it will cost a minimum of $285 for the cage, skirts, and grooming station. Of course, accessories are always extra!
For me, the typical price to enter one cat into a show is around $115. This includes the double cage space and a grooming space. The price goes up if I am showing more than one cat. From there, I will have had to spend money on gas to get to the show (which are rarely ever within a close distance) or pay for a plane ticket and then a rental car. Plus, I will need a hotel room for the weekend. Then there is the extra expense of food. I always have at least one kid with me so I am paying for multiple people.
The higher the title on the cat, you can be assured that more money was spent. Some people can scrape every penny they have and get away with spending $5,000 for a RW, but it can easily cost $50,000 to campaign a cat.
We wanted to have our own "intensive care unit". In the event a vet is ever needed to make a house call, we want to be prepared. This includes but is not limited to an oxygen concentrator, incubators, nebulizers, a portable sonogram machine, and a stocked pharmacy of typical medications used in catteries. I think the price of all of this goes without saying.
Usual instruments and supplies for breeding aside from the items listed above will need to be replaced from time to time. These items can cost between $50-150 annually.
The breeding cat
Prior to breeding a female, special care is given. She is checked by the vet, current on vaccinations, and given a clean bill of health. When the female shows signs of estrus, she is given a medication that will continue for one week after breeding and is given once again for one week before giving birth until one week postpartum. The pregnant cat will eat more because she is eating for up to 6 kittens and in turn will increase the use of cat litter. The vet visit and medication costs me $102, The increase of food and litter is probably an additional $60 to what I already spend yearly.
The cost of raising a litter can vary greatly because every litter is different. If the queen needs a c-section, this can drive up the price greatly! The cost of a c-section can range anywhere from $500-3000 depending on vet, area you are located, and complications during the c-section. A c-section in my area is around $2,000. Once the kittens are born, a long lasting medication is given to help with G Strep, a normal bacteria present in all cats. This costs $15/kitten.
Lets hope that all goes well and no more vet visits are needed and there are no problems with the kittens. If this is the case, over the next 12-16 weeks the increase of food and litter for 6 kittens will cost approximately $300. If it's not the case and one or more of the kittens need an additional visit to the vet, add more money onto your investment.
The time comes where the kittens have to go to the vet for a check up and receive their vaccinations. Then, the time will come where they will be spayed or neutered before going to their new home. This is about $250 for each kitten.
There are many other costs that go into raising cats that I will not go into detail on but will quickly list a few: Wear and tear on my vehicle plus upkeep from driving THOUSANDS of miles to and from cat shows, advertising, garbage bags, wear and tear on my furniture and flooring, registration of cats and litters, microchipping, etc.
Actual cost of raising a litter of kittens from a reputable breeder
Breeders have spent more hours than admitted in taking care of their animals. Whether it is staying up at night hand feeding kittens that need extra care, going days on end without sleep to attend a cat show, and the countless hours driving to and from the vet or even taking days off from paid jobs for our cats. Not to mention the hours spent interviewing potential homes for our kitties. A reputable breeder is never really compensated for a cat, kitten, or litter.