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Getting a puppy or kitten? Here’s your budget checklist.

​I love animals and the joy they bring, and I think it’s wonderful that hundreds of families across Australia will adopt pets over Christmas and the school holidays. Unfortunately, however, hundreds of others will be abandoned because people often underestimate the cost and responsibilities of pet ownership. That’s why I recommend, before you buy a puppy or kitten, to go through this checklist first.

  • Call a local vet to ask about the cost of microchipping, vaccinations and worming. The RSPCA advises that the first-year cost of a puppy starts at $2,350 and $1,150 for a kitten. They recommend budgeting about $900 for every consecutive year.
  • While speaking with the vet clinic, ask which food they recommend and the average cost per month. Proper nutrition is an important factor in avoiding expensive illnesses and injuries.
  • Contact your council to find out about the cost of animal registration and your options. If you’re adopting a pet that’s already registered, ensure that you fill out the transfer paperwork.
  • Think about how you’ll care for the pet when you’re on holidays. Do you have a friend or family member who can help out or will you need to budget for boarding costs? Call a few pet boarding services to see how much they charge. (The kennel I use is $29 a night.) Catteries are usually a little cheaper.
  • Research the breed and speak to other owners about its suitability for your lifestyle and experience. According to the RSPCA, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are the most likely dog breed to be abandoned, followed by Kelpies, Blue/Red Heelers, Maltese Terriers and Jack Russells.
  • Keep in mind that two pets may be easier than one, in which case you will need to double your pet budget. Cats usually do well on their own, but dogs are generally social animals that benefit from constant companionship. Working breeds require an especially high amount of stimulation.
  • Pay a visit to some animal rescue shelters. Adopting an adult dog or cat may save you money, toilet training and a heap of chewed shoes.
  • If your heart is set on a puppy or kitten, speak to a number of breeders and ask to meet the pet’s mum and dad in person. The RSPCA has a guideline for finding responsible animal breeders.
This article has been prepared for information purposes only, and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information in this article you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.