The Cost of Keeping a Cat or Dog in Japan

The Cost of Keeping a Cat or a Dog in Japan

Having a cat or a dog is a rewarding and fulfilling experience, whether in your home country or Japan. But some things are different so let us consider the challenges and expenses of keeping a pet in Japan first. This article explores some of the costs of owning a cat or a dog in Japan, such as food, grooming, veterinary care, insurance, and housing. We will also share some tips and resources on how to save money and find the best deals for your furry friends.

Make your choice: Cats and dogs have their characteristics and personalities, which may not suit the needs of all people. For example, cats are relatively independent and require less walking and training, but they do need more time and effort for hair care and litter box cleaning. Dogs, on the other hand, like to interact with humans and are loyal and smart, but require more exercise and training, and may cause problems with barking, hair, and odor.

First, we look at some recent surveys which give you an idea of pet expenses.

Survey 1: According to a customer survey of the pet insurance company Anicom from the year 2020, pet owners in Japan spend an average of about 300,000 yen annually on a dog and 160,000 yen on a cat. The initial purchase costs of the animals are not included.

The top expense for both animals was food at about 50,000 yen, followed by insurance fees of about 50,000 yen for a dog and about 30,000 yen for a cat, while medical fees were about 45,000 yen and 24,000 yen, respectively. Expenses can be significantly higher if the animal becomes sick or injured.

The survey included spending on small animals such as rabbits, birds, and ferrets for the first time in its latest survey, and found that rabbits are the most high-maintenance of these animals. The annual expenditure for a rabbit was around 88,000 yen, including heating and lighting costs of around 24,000 yen.

Survey 2: Another Japan-based insurance company, R&C Co, surveyed 3,000 cat owners aged 20 to 60 across Japan at the end of the year 2022. This poll revealed an average total cost of owning a cat over its lifetime of 2.64 million yen. The largest expense is food at 644,885 yen per year or 3,515 yen per month. The next expensive item is medical care, which can increase dramatically with a single visit to the vet, averaging 468,419 yen.

Having cats as roommates causes another expense that should not be ignored: Many cat-owning households keep their thermostats at room temperature for longer periods. Based on the amount of time the air conditioner for cooling and heating is used and its electricity costs, R&C calculated that the total winter heating cost for a cat’s lifetime averages 393,363 yen.

Survey 3: Dog owners spent on average more than 300,000 yen annually on their furry companion, according to a survey conducted in 2021 and published by Statista. The largest amount was dog food-related expenses, with almost 66 thousand yen, closely followed by medical expenses for injuries and illnesses which required 51,000 yen. Shampoo, cutting, and trimming fees summed up to about 51,000 yen. Pet insurance cost 46,000 yen.

Preventive measures like vaccination, examination, etc. caused expenses of 33,000 yen, supplements 15,000 yen, daily necessities 14,000 yen, clothing 13,000 yen, transportation fees 13,000 yen, energy bill (additional amount for a dog) 12,000 yen, discipline and training fees 7,500 yen, collar and leash 7,000 yen, pet hotels and pet sitters 5,000 yen, leisure facilities like dog parks 3,000 yen and disaster protective goods 800 yen.


There are three main channels to buy a cat or a dog in Japan:  directly from a breeder (normally specialized on one race), from a pet shop, or from an adoption shelter.

Most people visit a pet store to buy a cat or dog although the living conditions for the animals on sale are often visibly not good. The main advantage of a pet store is the lower price of animals when compared with breeders selling directly to end customers. Some big chain stores are Kojima Pets, Coo and Riku, and Aeon Pet.

Another advantage of a pet shop is that you can buy your animal right away instead of waiting for a kitten or puppy born at a breeder’s place. The waiting times at reputable breeders can be quite long. At the same time, pets from stores are more likely to be stressed and may have behavioral and health problems. Customers do not know the breeding conditions at the suppliers or contractors of the pet shops.  Prices for cats and dogs in pet shops can range from 100,000 to 500,000 yen depending on the race.

Animals from reputable breeders can be easily twice or more expensive than in shops. Their main advantages: You can check the breeding conditions yourself and often can even meet the mother and father of your cat or dog.

Adoption shelters are the most affordable option, and they offer a variety of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds. Adoption fees are typically much lower than the prices at pet shops, and they usually include spaying or neutering, vaccinations, and microchipping. Some popular shelters are Arkbark (mainly Osaka), Tokyo ARK, Chiba Wan, Animal Walk Tokyo, Animal Refuge Kansai, Japan Animal Trust, Dog Shelter, and Japan Cat Network.


If you live in an apartment, you need permission for your animal and normally have to pay a pet deposit and/or pet rent. The pet rent can vary depending on the size of your animal and the size of your apartment. The typical monthly extra rent per cat or dog is between 3,000 and 5,000 yen. Register your dog at the municipal office in the city you live and get a license tag to identify your ownership (fee of about 3,000 yen). Microchipping is also available and can cost 10,000 yen or more.

Another point to consider: Traveling by train or plane in Japan is difficult with pets. For example, when using the train you have to put your dog in a closed bag or a cage. The combined wage of bag/case and animal must be below 10 kg and an extra ticket for “personal belonging” (290 yen) is required. (This is one reason why the Japanese prefer small animals.)

Also, most hotels, hostels, guest houses, and Airbnb places do not allow animals. While traveling, most people have to put their pets in an animal boarding house. This can easily set you back by 3,000 to 5,000 yen per night depending on the quality of care for your animal.

Here at, we can support you in your search for a pet-friendly place to live with your 4-legged friend. We have hundreds of listings for pet-friendly apartments in Tokyo, so have a look!

Veterinarian Care: 

The most expensive part of pet ownership are visits to the veterinarian. You can expect to pay anywhere from 5,000 yen to 100,000 yen for a routine checkup, and much more for any major medical procedures.

Many owners decide to neuter their animals, the procedure may cost several ten thousand yen at an expensive clinic but prices are not fixed. Sometimes, your local government pays a subsidy for spaying and neutering pets.

Vaccinations are also expensive. Dogs are legally required to have an annual rabies vaccination. Many dogs have to take medicine against filariasis, a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes. For example, the anti-filariasis medicine “Nexguard Spectra” costs 33,600 yen per year. Other items like flea medication can be bought in drug stores.


Pet insurance can help to cover the cost of unexpected vet bills. You can expect to pay anywhere from 5,000 yen to 10,000 yen per year for pet insurance. For example, Rakuten Super Pet Insurance compensates a certain percentage of the treatment cost for prescribed treatment at a veterinary hospital for a certain number of times. Covered are urolithiasis, intervertebral disc herniation, cancer, accidental ingestion, etc. as well as some dental treatments and patellar luxation.

Besides, third-party liability insurance is not required in Japan but is worth considering. If a dog or a cat injures another person through the owner’s negligence, the owner may be held legally liable under Article 209 of the Penal Code and is subject to a 300,000 yen fine.


The cost of pet food depends on the appetite of your animal and the type of food you choose, but you can expect to pay anywhere from 10,000 yen to 100,000 yen per year.


The cost of grooming will depend on the type of pet you have and how often you need to have them groomed. For example, a dog that needs to be bathed and brushed once a week will cost more than a cat that only needs to be brushed once a month. Some dogs require regular hair trimming every four to six weeks which can easily cost you 7,000 to 10,000 yen each time.

Toys and supplies: 

You will also need to purchase toys and supplies for your pet, such as a bed, a cage, food and water bowls, a leash, and a collar. Cats need kitty litter and dogs disposable diapers to pee on. The cost of these items will vary depending on the type of pet you have, the quality of the items you choose, and the place where you buy or order them.


Some dogs require training, especially when the owner has not done a good job educating them when they grow from puppies to adults. Shiba Inu dogs, for example, are known for being stubborn, so they may require some training. You can expect to pay anywhere from 5,000 yen to 10,000 yen for a class with a dog trainer.

The farewell: 

Apologies for mentioning the heartbreaking and sad ending of pet ownership at this point but for the sake of completeness, this cost item should also be taken into account. You can ask your ward to dispose of the deceased pet (starting from about 2,000 yen). The mobile cremation service PET 594 CAR for animals up to 25 kg comes directly to your apartment and also offers funeral rites. Prices depend on the weight of your pet and start at 15,000 yen. Other service companies will pick up your pet and return an urn with the ashes.

In conclusion, the costs of owning a cat or a dog in Japan can add up significantly. However, the joy and companionship that pets provide are invaluable. The love and happiness that come from having a furry friend by your side will make it all worthwhile.


Thinking of getting a pet? Check out our listings of pet-friendly apartments in Tokyo.

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