Tortoiseshell cats have unique coloration, typically red and black, in a pattern that resembles a Tortoiseshell. Like Calicos, most Tortoiseshell cats are female, and males are quite rare.
Though Tortoiseshell coloration occurs in a variety of breeds, it’s still relatively rare and sought by owners. Depending on the breed and where you acquire the cat, you could spend $25-$200 by adopting or $1,000-$2,000 buying a Tortoiseshell cat from a reputable breeder.
Bringing Home a New Tortoiseshell Cat: One-Time Costs
You may be thinking that the biggest expense of getting a Tortoiseshell cat is paying for the cat itself, but your one-time costs can be much higher.
A “free” cat isn’t really free. Even if you get lucky and there’s an accidental litter, your kitten will need veterinary care. The ASPCA estimates that the initial veterinary costs for a cat are around $365 for spaying, neutering, vaccinations, and an exam. This can vary by your cat’s age, location, and the vet clinic’s pricing.
The price for adopting a cat can vary according to age, behavior, medical condition, and demand, which may apply to the desirable tortoiseshell coloration. If that occurs with a popular breed or it’s a kitten, it may be on the higher end of that range. Fortunately, this adoption fee includes spaying or neutering, vaccinations, deworming, and other medical care.
The price for a Tortoiseshell cat can vary by breeder and the specific breed you’re looking for. Tortoiseshell can occur in Maine Coons, American Shorthairs, British Shorthairs, Persians (and variants), Cornish Rexes, Ragamuffin, and more.
With the rarity of the Tortoiseshell pattern and the premium cost of some of these purebred cats, the price can go well into thousands of dollars. Show quality, breeding rights, and rare males can increase the price even more.
Initial Setup & Supplies
Whether you get a free kitten or a purebred Tortoiseshell cat, you will have additional upfront costs for supplies to bring your cat home. Your must-haves include a carrier, litter box and litter, a collar and ID tag, scratching posts or mats, and cat food and bowls. You may also want to get toys, cat shelves, beds, and other supplies, which raises the price.
List of Tortoiseshell Cat Care Supplies & Costs
|ID Tag and Collar||$25–$50|
|Nail Clipper (optional)||$10|
|Food and Water Bowls||$20|
How Much Does a Tortoiseshell Cat Cost Per Month?
- $53+ per month
Based on information from the ASPCA, cats cost around $634 annually, which is around $53 a month. This not only includes your upfront costs for the cats and one-time supply purchases, but recurring costs like food, treats, and veterinary care. Once your cat is spayed or neutered and vaccinated, you will need to keep up with annual checkups, vaccinations, flea and tick medication, and heartworm medication.
If your cat has health problems or requires regular medication for a chronic condition, those costs can go much higher. For example, diabetic cats can cost $50 or $100 extra per month for prescriptions like insulin—on top of the other expenses.
- $46–$253 per month
Your cat’s health care, which includes food, grooming, vet care, and insurance (if you choose to purchase it), will likely be the most expensive part of cat ownership. But this is the most important part of ensuring a long, healthy, and happy life for your cat. Fortunately, some expenses are one-time purchases, such as spaying and neutering or grooming supplies.
- $10–$50 per month
Cat food costs can vary widely. Each cat costs about $10 to $50 per month, depending on what food brand you feed, whether you feed wet or dry food, how often you feed your cat, and how much your cat eats. Many cat owners combine wet and dry food to save on costs and provide well-rounded nutrition to their cats.
- $1–$15 per month
Professional cat grooming isn’t common, but it is an option for cats that are difficult to groom at home like Maine Coons or Persians. Otherwise, you will need to purchase grooming supplies once, but they could last your cat’s lifetime. These cost around $5 to $15 for a brush, comb, shedding brush, and nail clippers.
Medications & Vet Visits
- $25–$150 per month
Veterinary care for cats is often cheaper than it is for dogs, but it’s still expensive. Most of the expenses occur during annual visits, but cats may have health conditions that need to be monitored more frequently throughout the year or sick visits for sudden injuries or illnesses. Kittens and senior cats may have higher expenses as well, though this is temporary.
- $6–$38 per month
Cat insurance is a monthly expense that pays off if your cat gets sick or injured. There are several pet insurance companies available with different plans for cats, including accident and illness, accident only, routine care, and add-ons.
The costs vary widely according to your cat’s age, health, breed, and preexisting conditions and the plan, reimbursement amount, and deductible you choose. It can be as little as $6 per month or as much as $38, if not more.
- $10–$50 per month
There are ongoing maintenance costs for owning a cat, such as using litter, litter box liners, deodorizing spray, and more. If you give your cat disposable toys like a cardboard scratcher, this will also add to your maintenance costs each month. These expenses are typically low, however. Some products you will purchase in a pack, such as litter box liners, and they will last for several weeks.
Example for cats:
|Litter box liners||$20/month|
|Deodorizing spray or granules||$5/month|
- $2–$25 per month
Cats enjoy playing with toys. You can stock up on cheap toys like cat teasers or catnip balls, or spring for premium interactive toys like electronic laser toys. Either way, your cat toys will last for some time (hopefully!) before they need to be replaced. Larger enrichment purchases, such as a cat perch or tower, are more expensive but last much longer.
As an example, a subscription box of cat toys averages about $25 each month. These subscription boxes include toys, treats, and novelty gifts for cats and cat owners (mostly for the cats), to give you an idea of how much you could spend on cat enrichment.
Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Tortoiseshell Cat
- $50–$250 per month
As you can see, the total monthly cost of owning a cat varies significantly. Your cat’s health costs, like food, vet care, and insurance, are the most expensive. If your cat is ill, you may have higher monthly costs for vet care, medications, special diets, or pet insurance coverage.
After these expenses, your maintenance costs vary depending on what you choose for environmental maintenance and entertainment. For example, litter box liners make cleaning the litter box more convenient, but they’re not necessary for cat ownership. The same applies to deodorizing sprays.
Additional Costs to Factor In
Health care, entertainment, and maintenance are all routine expenses you can expect to pay throughout the year, each year of your cat’s life. There are other costs that may come up that you’re not expecting, however.
If you travel often, you may need a pet sitter to care for your cat while you’re away. Your cat can also have an injury or serious illness that requires emergency care, which is more expensive that vet care at a regular vet office. If you don’t have pet insurance, you should have an emergency fund to cover unexpected vet expenses.
Another thing to consider is expenses related to behavioral issues. Intact male cats can spray, and you may need to treat carpeting or furniture for odors. Cats may also scratch curtains, carpets, couches, bedding, and other surfaces in your home, which may need to be repaired or replaced. Severe behavioral problems may need to be addressed with the help of a veterinary behaviorist, the cost of which varies across the country.
Owning a Tortoiseshell Cat on a Budget
If you’re on a tight budget, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring home a Tortoiseshell cat. These cost ranges include a lot of optional expenses that you can reduce or remove completely, such as litter box liners and subscription cat toy boxes. Other expenses, such as the cost of getting a cat, can be reduced by going to a shelter.
Saving Money on Tortoiseshell Cat Care
The biggest expense that you can save on a cat is skipping the breeder. If you choose to adopt a cat from a shelter, you will have a much lower fee to adopt instead of purchase, which includes spay or neuter and vaccinations. That alone can save you thousands of dollars.
After that, the biggest expenses are health care. Though it may seem counterintuitive, feeding a high-quality food over a cheap brand not only provides better nutrition, but your cat will get more nutrient-dense food to support better health. With that, you should be careful to avoid overfeeding—obesity isn’t good for your cat or your wallet.
Veterinary expenses are similar. Keeping up with your cat’s regular vet care, including routine dental cleanings, exams, and vaccinations, can prevent much more expensive problems from cropping up in the future. For example, heartworm may require thousands of dollars to treat with surgery to remove the parasites, but it costs less than $100 a year to prevent.
You should also spring for pet insurance. For a small fee each month, you can have peace of mind that your cat is covered in the case of major illnesses, injuries, and emergency visits, which can run thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Be sure to review your plan options to decide the best plan for your needs and budget.
Other ways to save are by cutting out the non-necessities. Your cat doesn’t need a lot of toys—just a good scratching post/perch combination and some simple toys are often enough. You can also make some things for your cat, such as scratching mats and cat towers, to provide more enrichment.
We're quite fond of cardboard as a material in cat scratchers, which is why we love the Hepper Hi-Lo Cat Scratcher. Encased within a well-constructed, modern birch plywood frame, this scratcher is designed with both cats and their owners in mind. It offers three versatile configurations to keep your feline friend active and entertained while enticing them to fulfill their natural scratching instincts (and away from scratching things they shouldn't). For more details, click here! At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest, so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!
We're quite fond of cardboard as a material in cat scratchers, which is why we love the Hepper Hi-Lo Cat Scratcher. Encased within a well-constructed, modern birch plywood frame, this scratcher is designed with both cats and their owners in mind. It offers three versatile configurations to keep your feline friend active and entertained while enticing them to fulfill their natural scratching instincts (and away from scratching things they shouldn't). For more details, click here!
At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest, so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!
The cost to buy and own a Tortoiseshell cat falls within a big range. The most important expenses relate to your cat’s health and well-being, but you can expect other expenses for entertainment, maintenance, and more. Fortunately, there are ways you can care for your cat on a budget and promote a long and healthy life.
Featured Image Credit: coryr930, Pixabay
- Bringing Home a New Tortoiseshell Cat: One-Time Costs
- Initial Setup & Supplies
- How Much Does a Tortoiseshell Cat Cost Per Month?
- Total Monthly Cost of Owning a Tortoiseshell Cat
- Owning a Tortoiseshell Cat on a Budget