Posted on: August 20th, 2013 by Dr. Melissa Mustillo
Unfortunately, accidents and illnesses will happen to your cat over his or her lifetime. What would you do if your cat became sick or injured and the treatment(s) were expensive? Would you let cost compromise the quality of care that you give to your cat? Veterinary medicine is advancing every day, and new technology and treatments come with additional costs. Because of this, it is time to consider pet insurance for your furry companion. If you do not have health insurance, do not feel guilty: approximately 99% of cat owners don’t have insurance.
We all know that cats are notorious for masking illness. A serious condition in a cat is often quite advanced before an owner picks up that something is wrong. This makes it more complicated and expensive to diagnose and treat than if we recognized it earlier. Many insurance policies also include routine health care and routine dental procedures as well. Consider this: most emergency room visits can cost over $1000; routine care for your senior cat can exceed $500 per year (that’s if they are healthy); and dental procedures can cost $400 and more if extractions are indicated.
It’s critical to consider cost when it comes to your cat’s health. People shouldn’t necessarily feel guilty for making the decision not to treat their beloved cat or even to euthanize if necessary. Before adopting a new pet, cost of their care should be taken into account to make sure it is right for your family. Callous though it may seem, people do have finite financial resources. However, you may not have to go through the heartache of not being able to care for your pet when, with health insurance, you would have had the means.
There is no right answer in choosing a pet insurance company and policy for your cat. There are numerous companies offering insurance and I urge you to read about each company before choosing a policy. Some companies provide complete care with 100% re-imbursement, whereas others only cover emergencies. Most companies do require you to pay the bill, or a portion, up front at the time of the visit. You may need to fill out a claim form (most are very simple and one page), have your veterinarian sign the form, and fax or mail the form in. Also remember, NO company will cover a preexisting condition, so we recommend getting insurance when your kitty is young and healthy, ideally as a kitten. With pet insurance you and your vet can focus on giving your cat the best care without the extra worry of cost.
Here are two insurance companies that A Cat Clinic is familiar with. We encourage you to check out their websites to compare policies.
• Embrace Pet Insurance www.embraceyourpet.com. If you mention that you are a client of A Cat Clinic, you will receive a 10% discount.
• Trupanion www.trupanion.com
If pet health insurance is not right for you, or if your cat already has a medical condition, there are other financial options that can help you. Options include:
• CareCredit Healthcare Finance is a credit card for health expenses that can be used for pets and people. The company offers no-interest plans for bills that are paid in full within a certain number of months, sometimes as many as 24 months. Visit carecredit.com for more information
• Angel funds are a resort for people who can’t afford to take care of their cat in an emergency situation. The Humane Society lists about 20 organizations that provide financial assistance to pet owners in need.
• The American Animal Hospital Association (aahanet.org) has a Helping Pets Fund that assists owners who are experiencing financial hardship.