Any animal you bring into your house is going to cost some money, although the benefits of companionship among other things often time make it worthwhile.
If you're looking for an affordable pet and are considering a cat, I have some advice to pass along from personal experience:
1) Get a female. Now before you say "but spaying costs more than neutering", consider the fact that this is a one time cost, and the difference in price is not that much. However, if your male cat is unlucky enough to contract FUS, look out. Cha-ching cha-ching. We've sunk about $1,500 so far into keeping our male alive.
2) Make sure the cat you choose has a tail. Little know fact (at least it was little known to me): the nerves associated with bladder and bowel control are very low in the spine and close to the tail. We adopted a Manx and couldn't figure out why she peed everywhere and dropped pieces of fecal matter in the most inappropriate places. Turns out that Manx (stub tails) have control issues because they don't have complete tails. In fact because of this, there are regulations in place that prevent Manx breeders from breeding too many successive generations of tail-less cats.
Anyway, no tail = bathroom issues = $$$ spent on clean up. Ugh.
3) Litter tip: get cedar pellets. Wonderful stuff. A bag lasts an entire year because the cedar completely absorbs the smell; all you do is scoop out the poop. Safe for your dog as well; if you have a dog with the nasty habit of dining in the cat box, the cedar litter won't obstruct his bowel the way that clay based clumping littler will, resulting in fewer vet bills.
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