How Much Does It -Really- Cost to Live With Cats in a Studio Apartment?

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Having any pet means that we have the responsibility to make sure that our cats have the things that they need to lead healthy lives. While this isn’t expensive, there are certain costs that we have to take notice of when thinking about taking care of a cat.

So how much does it cost to have a cat in a studio apartment or small apartment? For most apartments and households, there is an initial cost of 100 USD to take care of the cat’s essentials (litter box, food, water, and scratching post).

There is also about 400-500 USD after this initial cost (within the first 6 months to a year) for their vet fees (checkups, neuter/spay, and vaccinations) to make sure they are healthy and ready for their new lives. After the initial 6 months or so, there is about 30 USD – 50 USD cost of upkeep monthly.

In the charts below, we take a look at more into detail on how much having a cat really costs inside a small apartment.

Depending on the number of cats and where you live, the price might vary but this is typically what to expect.

First Time Cat Owner Essentials List

A cat’s essentials for an apartment is pretty simple. Essentials mean very basic for a cat’s life but don’t exactly mean that they will have a stimulating life. However, these are the things that will get you started and allow you to continue building and improving the stuff that matters to your cats!

A cat will require:

  1. A litter box – $10-20 – luckily in a small room, you only need one litter box! You would only need more if you have 3 or more cats!
  2. Food/Water – $10-20
  3. A scratching post – $30 – a sturdy scratching post that is a bit more expensive will last longer and be replaced less than cheap ones.
  4. Bonus – Cat toys or other cat furniture – $20-30 (could be more or less depending on your creativity or inventiveness)

All in all, the essentials will cost approximately $100 USD. This would be the initial cost for a first-time cat owner.

What Are the Costs Within 6 Months of Owning a Cat or Kitten?

If your cat is a kitten, then we have to also take note of the costs of going to the vet. A kitten or stray will need to be checked up by the vet to ensure that they are healthy and will need to have vaccinations.

Kittens will be vaccinated every 3-4 weeks until they are around 16 weeks old. Adult cats without a history of vaccinations might only need two rounds of vaccinations, with a 3-4 week gap in between each round.

This means that having a kitten will noticeably more expensive than adopting an adult cat simply because of their vulnerable health at this period in their life (more checkups, more vaccinations, possibly more health issues).

Most kittens will also need to be spayed or neutered within 6 months. A spay will cost more than neuter usually.

Kitten (3 weeks – 16 weeks old)Adult Cat (Over 16 weeks old)
Table based on USD amounts. Price might vary depending on region.

What Is the Cost of Maintenance and Upkeep of Cats?

After the initial costs in the first 6 months is over with. The costs of having a cat drastically decreases as vaccinations happen every couple of years rather than every few weeks and no more frequent vet visits (hopefully).

Therefore, usually, the only things to care for is our cat’s food and litter box substrate to replace after we scoop.

Monthly Costs of Owning Cats in a Studio Apartment

Giving our cats good food doesn’t have to be very expensive. If you are feeding your cats dry-food regularly and using wet food to supplement.

In a month I go through one of these bags for my 4 cats here in Korea. This is a 6.5 kg bag of grain-free dry food. Its regular price is 40,000 KRW which equates to $33 USD.

The next thing is the litter box substrate. A lot of cat owners will use clay (clumping litter), whoever I’ve always felt that it’s too inefficient in terms of use and price.

It always feels like I go through bags of clumping litter so fast. Since I’ve switched to pine litter and it’s so much better in terms of tracking, cleanliness, and cost. A full guide on pine litter here!

For the whole month, I would use the pine litter below. This is the brand that’s available here in Korea. That whole bag is 20 kg and that is the only bag that I need for my litter box.

This whole 20 kg bag of pine litter pellets costs 13,800 KRW which equates to about $11 USD.
Monthly Expenditure For Food and Litter for CatsFood (Grain-free)Litter (Pine Pellets)
1 Cat Total = $10-15$10-15Under $5
2 Cats Total = $20-25$15-20Approximately $5
3 Cats Total = $30-40$25-30$5-10
4 Cats Total = $40-55$30 – 40$10-15
Table based on USD amounts. The price might vary depending on the region. These prices are based on Korean products.

As you can see, after the first 6 months or so when all the vet stuff is out of the way – us butlers only have to worry keeping a good supply of food and litter substrate available.

Other Important Expenses and Hidden Costs of Owning Cats

Although the above covers most of the expenses that one might expect to have when owning a cat or multiple cats. There are of course some hidden costs that you might need to think about as well when considering having a cat.

Maintenance of Apartments with Cats

Having a cat ensures that you might have to think about the choices you make in terms of the furniture you use in your apartment or home.

Cats have claws and teeth – and these claws are mandatory. You can trim them or cover them but every once in a while when it gets sharp, it can cause some damage to your furniture depending on the furniture you have or choose.

Your new cat or kitten might not be trained or socialized and might have destructive behaviors – i.e. scratching things, biting, or taking things apart. So it’s always good to cat-proof or Bengal-proof your apartment!

You’ll find yourself learning how to do repairs on certain things or keeping other things out of reach of your cats. Or you can pick out furniture that might be more resistant to claws and puncturing. This costs a bit of money or a lot of money depending on what you have in your home.

Also, like many other animals, cats have fur and fur needs to be managed and cleaned. So expect to purchase tools and cleaning devices to keep the shedding at bay.

Cat Toys and Devices Need Maintenance Too!

Cats love to scratch, I go through these hanging cat scratchers like candy, because Latte loves it so much!

Cats are hunters at heart, so when they play – they go all out. This means using claws and teeth to catch whatever prey (toy) that might be rolling around!

Small weak wands or toys are no match sometimes and as a result, will require replacement or repairing.

I would recommend sticking to toys that have the least amount of parts so minimal breakage occurs and if it does occur – it is easily repaired or replaced with some alternative.

These costs can add up if we’re not careful! Especially if you’re not toy cycling. Buying new toys every week or month can be a big waste of money!

I go into detail about toy cycling and what I do with toys for my cats in this article: How To Tire Out Bengal/Active Cats.

Sudden Expenses and Injuries When Owning a Cat

Like many things in life, it’s hard to predict everything that’s going to happen. One minute our cat might be healthy and the next they might suddenly injure or have some sort of infection. It happens more often than you might think.

My youngest cat, Loki, is always roughhousing and energetic. There was one day where he and his brothers were playing particularly roughly and it seemed fine until the next morning I had found that one of his eyes had almost gone completely gray. It was terrifying.

A trip to the vet and a checkup later, the vet guessed with all the roughhousing he was doing with his brothers, somehow Loki’s eye was hit with maybe a paw or a leg that scratched his eye and as a result, has become infected. Luckily we noticed quickly and a week later his eye was completely fine.

Since it’s hard to predict these things, it’s always best to be a bit prepared for any unplanned visits to the vet. It’s always recommended to put aside some money for those sudden events and might require a professional to look at.


In conclusion, it’s not all that expensive to own a cat or multiple cats, especially after that 6 months mark. However, it does require some preparation beforehand so that your cat can be looked after well and avoid the things that might become expensive.

Let me know in the comments on how much you spend on your cats!


With a science background and years of experience including learning, observing, and training cats - increasing our beloved feline's welfare and wellbeing is the priority and passion.

2 thoughts on “How Much Does It -Really- Cost to Live With Cats in a Studio Apartment?

  1. Hi Monsieur TN! I was wondering if you could share the pet gates you use for your studio apartment. I’m interested in getting a similar set up. Thank u!

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