Some say the world is split into cat and dog people. I don’t believe that, but if I had to choose, I’m 100% #TeamCat. And you know what? Cats are cheaper to raise than dogs!
Aside from the usual vet fees and food costs, you’ll probably need to cat-proof your home to keep your meow-y companion happy. However, most cats hardly need grooming and training sessions. So if you’re more Sylvester than Scooby Doo, here’s all you need to know about getting a feline furkid.
Getting a cat in Singapore: Pet shop or cat adoption?
All cat lovers have wondered: Can I just bring that manja stray cat home? Technically, the answer is yes. However, these community cats are used to free roaming and may not do well at home. You can expect difficulties when it comes to housebreaking and obedience. You will also need to take it to the vet for a preliminary checkup and to get the necessary shots done. It’s a hit-or-miss, so make sure you’re prepared to put in the time, patience and money if you do this. Don’t take in a stray cat on a whim, only to release it after a few days – it is extremely stressful for the cat.
If you’re swinging between buying from a pet shop or adopting from a shelter, I will always recommend adoption. However, unlike purebred dogs, purebred cats are much harder to find at shelters.
And just in case you’re thinking of getting a dog instead, you can read about the costs of dog ownership in Singapore.
Cat adoption in Singapore
There aren’t as many cat shelters in Singapore, but there are many cats at SPCA. You can also look online on adoption boards, but be careful – some are backyard breeders looking to illegally sell their animals.
Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Singapore (SPCA)
At SPCA, it costs $80 to adopt an adult cat and $100 for a kitten (under 6 months old). Senior cats (above 5.5 years old, pedigrees included) and those that’ve been up for adoption for over a year cost $25. Pedigrees (and their crosses) under 5.5 years old can be adopted at $150. Your cat will be vaccinated, sterilised, dewormed, microchipped and registered.
Cat Welfare Society (CWS)
CWS is not a shelter, but on has an adoption board on its website. The recommended adoption fee is $40 to $80, but can possibly be more if procedures like vaccinations and sterilisation has been done. There is also a guideline for responsible cat ownership for prospective adopters to follow.
Buying a cat in Singapore
Kitten mills are as unethical and inhumane as puppy mills, but thankfully, they’re not as prevalent in Singapore. When it comes to cats, backyard breeding seems to be the bigger problem in Singapore.
Always be suspicious if you see super expensive purebred cats being sold on community marketplaces like Carousell, Gumtree and more. Most listings are titled with ‘cat adoption’, but if the ‘adoption fee’ costs thousands of dollars, be wary. You may think you’re saving the poor kitty’s life, but if you fuel the demand for it, the illegal breeders will continue supplying ill-bred kittens.
If you choose to buy from a shop or a breeder, expect to spend between a few hundred to thousands. Pure breeds like Persian and Munchkin cats can cost you $800 and up. Pedigree crosses are slightly cheaper, but still in the $300 to $700 range. Be warned though, having a purebred cat is like dating a high-maintenance girlfriend: They’re quite fragile and you may find yourself having to invest a lot more money in health and grooming.
Costs of seeing the vet in Singapore
Once you’ve got your new furkid, you’ll need to bring it to the vet. Basic consultation can cost from $20 to over $60 per visit, and this excludes medication and other procedures.
$25 – $40
$60 – $250
Usually costs more for female cats
$50 – $80
The main initial procedures you will need to get done are vaccination, sterilisation and microchipping. Most owners don’t deworm their indoor cats, and only deworm their outdoor cats when they actually get the worms (nasty intestinal parasites). If you want to anyway, it is relatively affordable at $30 to $50. Also, unlike dogs, you won’t need to get a licence to own a cat. If you adopted your cat from a shelter or previous owner, make sure to ask for medical records so you know what to do.
It’s also important to note that although many Singaporeans keep cats in their HDB apartments, it is actually not allowed. While authorities typically keep a blind eye to it, you may get caught and fined if anyone complains about you.
Cost of cat food in Singapore
Cat food is comparatively cheaper than dog food. Also, considering that most cats are under 5kg – save for giant breeds like the Maine Coon – they eat less too. There are several types of cat foods in the market:
Type of cat food
Dry cat “biscuit” type of food
Widely available at supermarkets and pet shops
$ – $$
Wet canned food
Cat meals in individual cans
Usually meat, grains, and gravy
Widely available at supermarkets and pet shops
$$ – $$$
Pure meat diet
Freeze-dried for convenience
Available at pet shops only
Home-cooked diet with customisable proportions of meats, grains, etc
Usually lacks essential vitamins and nutrients that are supplemented in commercial cat food
You can find large bags of cat kibble at your local supermarket (and even petrol kiosk) for under $10, but these are the low-end cat food. They’re filled with additives and little meat, which is unhealthy for your feline. The higher-end brands are typically grain-free, and contain quality cuts of meat. The quality kibbles can cost $100+ for the large packs (10kg), which will last months if you have just one cat. Kibbles also encourage good dental hygiene in your cat.
Wet canned food typically contains mostly meat, which is great since cats are mostly carnivorous. Unlike dogs, they don’t need too much veggies and grains. Canned food also usually comes in gravy or pate form, which help to hydrate your cat. You may choose to mix kibble and canned food.
Freeze-dried cat food is the most expensive option, and involves freeze-drying raw meat to preserve its nutrients and vitamins. It’s like feeding your kitty a raw diet, but without the hassle – no blood and lower risks of contamination. Most commercial freeze-dried diets are supplemented with vitamins and nutrients for a balanced diet too. Unfortunately, freeze-dried raw meat meals are the most expensive food option, and a 14oz (397g) bag of the popular Primal Feline freeze-dried formula will cost around $88. Primal often has 1-for-1 sales at their retailers though, so watch out for those. Freeze-dried meat is too expensive for most people to feed their pet cats, so most owners mix it with kibble and canned food.
Lastly, you can choose to home-cook your cat’s meals. It takes a lot of effort to research the nutritional needs of your cat, so although not impossible, it is not recommended. In general, cats need a high-protein, meat-based diet.
Cat-proofing your home
Once your furkid is ready to join the family, you’ll need to ensure your home is cat-friendly. If you live in a high-rise apartment, your cat is probably going to stay indoors most of the time. If your windows do not have grilles, you should mesh them so Kitty doesn’t get too curious and fall out the window. You can get cheap plastic or metal mesh from your neighbourhood hardware stores and DIY it. Other measures include hiding cables and covering sharp furniture edges (yup, it’s kind of like baby-proofing your home).
Other costs of keeping a cat in Singapore
Other cat products and services
$20 – $30
$20 and up
$10 – $30
$10 – $20
Basic cat grooming
$50 – $100
$60 – $200+
Interactive cat toys
Miscellaneous cat accessories
Next up, you’ll need to stock up on some basic cat necessities. While some people will have you think you need to spend a fortune on fancy toys and (shudder) fashion items for your cat, you don’t. You’ll need a food bowl ($10 and up), carrier ($20 – $30), litter box ($20 and up, depending on the brand and type), and a steady supply of cat litter. There are many types of cat litter, but generally they cost about $10 – $30 per bag.
Unless you adopt or buy a pedigree cat, you’re unlikely to need to spend too much on grooming. Cats are pretty clean pets, and most owners manage to bathe and clip their nails at home. You can get a cat shampoo from pet stores at around $10 to $20 per bottle (around 500ml). Grooming combs and nail clippers cost around $10 – $15 and $20 respectively.
If you have a long-furred feline that needs to regular mane maintenance, basic cat grooming costs around $50 to $100. Full grooming is typically about $20 to $50 more. Do note that getting a full fur-cut and removing mats cost extra.
Most house cats prefer to stay home, so if you’re heading overseas, you may want to consider getting a pet-sitter instead. If your cat is fine with a little stay-cation, popular cat hotels include Catopia, Nekoya and more. Cat hotels in Singapore charge about $35 to $50 per night. If Kitty needs to stay home and you don’t have anyone to help pet-sit, you can try searching for help through PawShake.
Cat toys & furniture
Since your cat will be spending most of its time at home, you have to keep occupied and stimulated so it doesn’t grow bored (and decide to wreak havoc). First, you’ll need to get a scratching post for your ferocious feline to maintain its claws and satisfy its natural urge to scratch. You can get simple scratch boards for under $30, but if you want a more fancy cat condo, it can cost anything from $60 to $200.
Regular teaser toys and wands only cost a couple of dollars, while the high-tech laser and electronic toys can go up to $40+.
Where to shop for cat stuff in Singapore
There are several pet shops in Singapore, the biggest chain being Pet Lovers Centre (PLC). PLC is available at most shopping malls and is probably the most convenient if you need to do an urgent pet food run. However, their prices are also higher than many other pet shops, especially the neighbourhood ones.
Serangoon North is known for having a row of neighbourhood pet shops, and many owners go there to stock up on cheap supplies. Another affordable pet store is PolyPet at Sunset Way – prices are 10% to 30% cheaper than at PLC, and you can check their online catalogue here.
Are you a cat owner or do you aspire to be one? Let us know in the comments!
More Info: blog.moneysmart.sg