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Economically speaking, the top dog is a cat

Our apologies to man's best friend, but when it comes to the long-term costs of pet companionship, the top dog is a cat.

Comparing costs for pet care, dog vs. cat

Costs of caring for a larger dog are higher than for a cat. — Masterfile

The typical cat owner spends about $20 a month on food and treats — much less than the $36 average spent feeding a dog, finds a recent survey of 1,100 owners by Consumer Reports.

See also: Budget-friendly tips for common cat problems.

But choose a small dog, and cats don't look like such a bargain. According to the ASPCA, small dogs cost about half the annual food tab of cats. Meals for medium pooches are nearly the same, while larger dogs cost nearly twice as much to feed as cats.

Add everything else — from spaying to toys — and the total first-year expenses for dogs run between $1,314 to $1,843, with those amounts increasing depending on size. For cats, it's about $1,035.

You may also like: Pet health insurance covers vet costs. >>

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.

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