The cost of a free kitten vs. the cost of a rescue kitten

120716-kittenThe signs are everywhere in the spring: Free kittens! You’ll see them advertised on Facebook, Craigslist, and roadside signs. Friends may stop you and ask, “Know anyone who wants a free kitten?”

Many rescue groups are taking in these free kittens, too, whether the cats are being surrendered to them, rescued from a kill shelter, or trapped from a feral colony. Want to adopt one of these kittens? In Southern Maryland, the average adoption fee for a kitten from a rescue organization is $125.

If that seems like highway robbery, consider the cost of these items for your new kitten:

  • Vet checkup: $10 to $50+ for an office visit, depending on the vet
  • Rabies vaccine: $5-20
  • Distemper vaccine: $10-20 each time, administered three times
  • Microchip: $45, including registration
  • Spay or neuter: $50 or less at a low-cost clinic, in the hundreds at a vet
  • Deworming: Around $20 for a home remedy, as much as $70 from the vet

(Sources:,, and

Let’s add all that up. At the extreme lower end, you’re looking at $160. At the upper end, your costs could be $445, using $200 as the cost of spay or neuter.

When you adopt a pet from a rescue organization or shelter, all of the items on the list above are included. The animal has already been seen by a vet and given the necessary vaccines. It has been spayed or neutered. Other problems, like fleas or mites, have also been treated, and your cat has been tested for diseases like FIV or FeLV. Because they care for several animals, rescue organizations can often get these services for less than the general public.

Your adoption fee, however, covers so much more. Rescue groups and their volunteers or staff also provide these services:

Socialization: If the animal came from outdoors or a bad situation, a foster home has been enlisted to help the animal become socialized and learn to trust humans.

Litter box training: This is necessary if mama cat wasn’t around to help the baby learn that skill.

Personality profile: If an animal has lived in a foster home, the foster family knows that animal like their own pets. They can tell you how they react to various situations and stimuli, and what the animal likes and doesn’t like. You’ll also know how the animal copes with dogs, other cats, and children.

Support for the organization: Rescue organizations – especially those that are run by volunteers – have no overhead. Many don’t even have a building – they are foster home based. Every dollar these groups take in goes back to the care of the animals they rescue.

Help for other animals: Whenever you adopt from a rescue organization, you free up space in a foster home for another animal in need. These organizations actively look for animals to rescue, whether they are springing animals from kill shelters, trapping kittens and friendly adults from feral colonies, finding homes for strays, or working with owners who can no longer take care of their pets.


3 thoughts on “The cost of a free kitten vs. the cost of a rescue kitten

  1. Great posty. Altho’ da area we live in is much different. They do charge a huge fee, but all dat be included is a spay/neuter done fur furee by a volunteer VET. And da animals are always sick and require lots of VET visits and meds once adopted. One is likely to get a healthier kitty from one of those “give away” kitties. We so wish things would change here. 😦 Big hugs

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Raena

    Liked by 1 person

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