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How Much Does A Tortoiseshell Cat Cost? [Finance Guide]

If you are thinking about acquiring a tortoiseshell cat, you might wonder how much they cost. Of course, there are costs of getting the kitten, but you’ll also want to consider the long-term costs of looking after your pet. Here’s everything financial that you need to know to budget accordingly.

So, how much does a tortoiseshell cat cost? Tortoiseshell cats typically cost between $300-$1000, on average. Although premium breed tortoiseshells can cost upwards of $2000, nearing $3000. You could, however, get lucky and find one at an animal shelter, though this might take time. A $100-250 adoption fee may also be required.

Generally, tortoiseshell cats tend to be on the higher side when it comes to price.

That’s because of the unique coat coloring these beautiful cats have.

But, as this is not a breed, you will find quite the variance – not just in the cost, but the cat that you will ultimately receive (size, temperament, etc).

And while it is good to have an average, consider that other factors will play a role too; many of which are out of your control.

For instance, the current supply and demand in your area.

But there are others too; as we shall now continue to explore below. 

Factors That Influence Tortoiseshell Cat Cost

Several factors come into play when working out how much your tortoiseshell cat will cost.

Choice of Breeder

If you are getting a purebred tortoiseshell cat, the breeder you select will influence the cost of your cat.

If a breeder has an excellent reputation, they are more likely to offer a fair price for a tortoiseshell.

However, you’ll pay more than if you were to get a mixed breed cat.

If your breeder is registered, then part of the sale price of their kittens will include covering their annual breeder fees plus the fees to register the kittens.

Cat breeding is done to advance the breed by producing the strongest progeny with the best genetic lines, and this costs money.

Pedigree Vs. Mixed Breed

There are some things to consider when deciding between a pedigree or a mixed breed cat.

Choosing A Pedigree Cat

If you choose a pedigree cat, you may be able to take your cat to competitions and shows.

Check that tortoiseshell cats are allowed, as some breeds do not recognize torties as official representations of the breed.

Some mixed-breed cats can enter competitions, although not at the same level.

The entry fees for cat shows start at $30 to $50 per cat and up.

Of course, if you choose to show your cat, you may have to factor in travel expenses, depending on the show’s location.

The purchase price of pedigree cats is usually much higher than that of mixed breed cats, tending towards prices of $1000 and up.

Because purebred cats are kept in similar bloodlines, their health isn’t as robust as their mixed breed companions.

The chances of developing a genetic disease are greater, which could mean hefty (and unexpected) vet bills in the future, as well as a shorter lifespan.

Choosing A Mixed Breed Cat

If you choose a mixed breed cat, the purchase price is typically much lower. Sometimes as low as $300.

And if you’re fortunate enough to find your tortoiseshell cat at a shelter, you can even get your pet for free.

As mixed breed cats tend to have a more varied genetic background, they usually have longer lifespans and more vibrant health.

The average lifespan of a healthy moggie cat is 12 to 20 years, compared with an average of 12.5 years for a purebred cat.

Can You Adopt A Tortoiseshell Cat?

The good news is that you can, if you wish, adopt a tortoiseshell cat, although you may have to get in line. These cats are very popular because of their beautiful markings!

Some organizations devote themselves to rehoming tortoiseshells, and a quick Google search can determine if there’s one in your area.

You can also try an online service to see if any tortoiseshells have been listed on other adoption websites.

Other Upfront Costs When Buying A Tortoiseshell Cat

Other costs to take into account when buying a tortoiseshell cat include cat litter (for indoor cats), cat toys, a cat bed, a scratching post, and other items.

Costs for these items vary widely, but here are some basic prices to consider:

  • A litterbox with a litter scoop. Prices start at about $12 for a simple, uncovered litter box. There are ‘scoop-free’ litter boxes available now for as much as $100!
  • A pet carrier. You’ll need a pet carrier to take your cat to the vet for regular visits, and these range in cost from $14 for a simple cage-style carrier to soft mesh carriers or backpacks for $30 and up.
  • Food and water dishes. Food and water dishes are a one-time purchase, usually, and start at $3 per bowl, right up to $70 for a set of 3 fancy non-slip bowls.
  • A cat bed. There are many different kinds, with kitty ‘igloos’ starting at $12, heated cat ‘caves’, and ‘scratcher’ beds that go for as much as $100 or more.
  • A scratching post. If you don’t want your cat to scratch your furniture, let them indulge this instinctive behavior for marking their territory on a scratching post. Simple models start at $10, going up to multi-level cat trees that can cost $80 and up.
  • Cat toys. There are many different types of toys for cats, and the ones you choose will depend on your cat’s preferences. Some toys blink, others make noises, and others roll. Expect to pay anything from $3 for a set of balls to $150 for a miniature robot mouse!

Ongoing Costs When Owning A Tortoiseshell Cat

Some ongoing costs to consider are things like vet fees, pet insurance, cat litter, and food.

Vet Fees

You will want to bring your cat to the vet for regular checkups, whether they are a tortoiseshell or not.

Expect to pay $90 to $200 per year for routine visits for an indoor cat.

If you choose to spay your cat, you’ll want to factor in the cost of the operation.

In private veterinary practice, spaying a female cat usually costs between $300 and $500.

For the rare male tortoiseshell, neutering costs are about $200.

There are cheaper options for spaying and neutering, usually at an animal shelter or a non-profit service, where costs are on average $50.

Check the Humane Society website for more low-cost options for ongoing care for your cat.

Depending on the type of pet insurance you have, spaying or neutering costs may be included with your policy.

If You Have an Outdoor Cat

If your cat spends time outdoors, you’ll need to allow for preventatives for fleas, ticks, and worms, along with additional tests and vaccines.

Outdoor cats cost roughly $350 yearly for routine vet fees.

Having said that, you won’t have to factor in costs for cat litter (see below).

If You Have A Male Tortoiseshell Cat

If you have a male tortoiseshell cat, anticipate extra vet bills and higher ongoing costs for proper care.

Male tortoiseshell cats are scarce, with one male per approximately 3,000 female tortoiseshells.

The male tortoiseshell’s health tends to be more fragile since male tortoiseshells have an extra X chromosome, making them subject to Klinefelter’s Syndrome.

Klinefelter’s is a health condition that makes cats vulnerable to potential issues such as:

  • Higher levels of body fat, possibly leading to heart disease or other health conditions
  • Greater risk of bone fractures because of lower bone mineral content
  • Resistance to insulin, potentially leading to diabetes

Because of the above potential health issues, male tortoiseshells tend to have a shorter lifespan than female tortoiseshell.

Female tortoiseshells live on average for about 15 years.

There have been no studies done, however, to know exactly how long male tortoiseshells can live.

Pet Insurance

You may want to get pet insurance for your tortoiseshell cat.

The average monthly cost for pet insurance for cats that covers accidents and illnesses is $29, though this is likely to be higher for purebred as well as older cats.

When looking at pet insurance, decide what you can afford to pay each month, as well as how you could pay for a deductible if your pet gets ill.

Lower monthly costs usually mean higher deductibles and vice versa.

If your budget isn’t very flexible to allow for a larger deductible, you may wish to select a monthly plan that costs a bit more per month but has a lower deductible, should you have to cope with the unexpected.

Cat Litter

If your cat lives mostly indoors, you’ll want to factor in the cost of cat litter.

Expect to pay about $100 to $250 each year, depending on the kind of litter you buy and whether you need more for other cats in your home.

Food Costs

The average cost for food to keep your tortoiseshell fit and healthy is about $120 to $500 per year.

If, however, your cat requires a prescription diet – for chronic medical issues – you can expect to pay as much as $500 yearly.

Most cats will do well with the usual cat food that you can get at grocery stores or pet stores.

Do check the ingredient list, though, because higher-quality food can save you money in the long run.

Providing a well-balanced diet for your cat can save you money on vet bills, and quality food tends to last longer since you won’t need as much of it in each feed.

Check with your vet if you aren’t sure which food your cat will do well with – although most cats do best when given dry and wet food.


Tortoiseshells are quite the expensive cat to buy as kittens.
Although, you can undoubtedly get these a little cheaper should you be okay with getting a mixed breed, or an older cat from a rescue (if you are fortunate to find one).

In reality, the upfront cost of a tortoiseshell is a range; there are too many variables at play to provide you with one fixed price.

One thing that will cost you for sure, though, is other associated upfront costs required to own a cat (if you have not made them already) and ongoing costs for care.

And do consider that you’ll need to pay these throughout your cat’s life.

While it may be more manageable than these costs come over time, it does require a little financial planning on your part.

Just be sure you can afford to take on this stunning cat.

Wondering how much other cat breeds cost too? Find out in my respective finance guides below: