Why Do Animal Shelters Have Adoption Fees For Cats?

Portrait of one grey and white calico kitten playing in cage waiting for adoption

(Picture Credit: ablokhin/Getty Images)

If you’ve adopted a cat from a local shelter, you’ll most likely have paid an adoption fee as part of the adoption process.

But have you ever wondered why adoption fees exist? And what sort of things does an adoption fee go to pay for?

Here’s what you need to know about shelters and adoption fees.

What Do Adoption Fees Cover?

When you pay an adoption fee to a shelter to adopt a cat, you might wonder what sort of things that fee covers.

Some of the most common things that adoption fees cover include:

To get a sense of how adoption fees help to fund shelters, the Animal Humane Society estimates that adoption fees cover 39 percent of the cost of caring for and rehoming animals. The rest comes from fundraising efforts and donations.

Additionally, adoption fees can help deter people from taking cats for inhumane and abusive purposes, such as to be used as bait during illegal dog fights.

Why Are Some Shelter Fees Higher Than Others?

Very sad cat portrait with big eyes in cage waiting for adoption

(Picture Credit: ablokhin/Getty Images)

There are a number of reasons why some shelters might have higher adoption fees than other shelters.

Sometimes, the location of a shelter might factor into the rate of the adoption fee. Shelters in neighborhoods with higher rent or living costs might simply need to raise more money to care for each animal.

The number of cats needing to find their forever home can also affect the rate of an adoption fee. Similarly, the size of a shelter can factor in, especially when it comes to the economy of scale that comes with bulk purchasing food and essential supplies.

Why Do Some Cats Have Lower Fees?

If you’ve noticed that some cats seem to have lower adoption fees than the rest of the cats at a shelter, this may be due to a couple of reasons.

Older senior cats are often seen as harder to rehome, so a lower adoption fee — or even waiving the adoption fee — can help speed up their search for a new home.

Certain breeds and colors of cats are also more popular than others, with black cats unfortunately often overlooked at shelters. So lowering an adoption fee can help result in a wider selection of cats finding forever homes.

Finally, during certain times of the year and for certain holidays, shelters might also run their own promotional campaigns and lower or waive adoption fees for a limited period of time. Many shelters also allow donors to sponsor a cat and cover their adoption fee for any potential adopter.

How much was the adoption fee for your last rescue cat? Do you think it was reasonable for how much the fee covers? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!