Is Pet Insurance Right For You And Your Cat?

by | Jun 6, 2024

, Is Pet Insurance Right For You And Your Cat?, The Comforted Kitty

Pet insurance is steadily growing in popularity as veterinary costs rise and people consider their cats to be their beloved family members. But, is pet insurance right for you and your cat?

Whether pet insurance is right for you depends on your finances and your cat’s age and health. Pet insurance is best for young cats and kittens without pre-existing medical problems. If your cat already has a few medical diagnoses, insurance may not cover their care.

In this article, we’ll discuss how much pet insurance for cats costs, factors to consider before buying pet insurance, and what pet insurance does and doesn’t pay for. We’ll also look into some alternatives to pet insurance to help you decide what’s right for you.

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost for Cats?

In 2023, the average cost for pet insurance for cats was $383.30 a year or $31.94 a month for accident and illness coverage.

People who opted for accident-only coverage paid around $116.11 per year or $9.68 a month.

This is much less than it costs to insure a dog. However, you may end up paying more or less depending on the plan you choose and the age and breed of your cat.

For instance, I’ve been quoted around $60 a month for a high-coverage plan for a senior cat pretty consistently.

Factors to Consider When Buying Pet Insurance

Your Cat’s Age

If you’re adopting a new kitten, it makes sense to get pet insurance right away. If you’re adopting an elderly cat or looking for coverage for your current pets, insurance can still be worth it–but not if you’re looking to cover already-diagnosed conditions.

Younger animals cost less to insure since they’re at a lower risk of developing severe health problems. They also tend not to have pre-existing conditions that won’t be covered.

Pre-Existing Conditions

It’s important to get insurance before your cat gets sick, as pet insurance will not cover pre-existing conditions. This gets especially tricky if your cat has an illness like Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) that impacts their immune system. Many illnesses your cat may develop can be linked back to their diagnosis by your insurance company, and they’ll likely refuse to pay out.

Pet insurance can be worthwhile for some cats with preexisting conditions, however, especially if the disease impacts only one specific part of the body, and the cat is still young.

You never know what else will come up as they age!

The Breed of Your Cat

Lastly, consider your cat’s breed (if you’ve adopted from a breeder). Some cat breeds are more likely to develop health problems, such as flat-nosed breeds developing brachycephalic syndrome.

High-risk breeds tend to cost more to insure, but this can be worthwhile as they’re at greater risk of wracking up high vet bills.

The Number of Pets in Your Home

Insuring one cat might be in budget–but if you have four cats, the costs are trickier to handle. For multi-pet households, it might make more sense to have a savings account that can cover any of your pets’ care.

Or, you can look into companies that offer a multi-pet discount.

Your Budget and Lifestyle

Lastly, consider whether you can consistently pay for pet insurance. Premiums tend to go up each year, and a young cat might live ten or twenty more years!

Unfortunately, if you do have to cancel your pet insurance before your cat reaches old age, you won’t get your money back for the years you paid into it. You’ll be left to pay for their end of life care on your own.

Of course, we can’t always plan out where we’ll be financially in ten or twenty years–but keep this in mind if you have any big life changes coming up or foresee yourself being unable to afford pet insurance over time.

How the Vet Bill is Paid

Most pet insurance plans require you to pay upfront for veterinary care and reimburse you later on. If you don’t have the funds, this can prevent your pet from getting the care they need–so, you’ll still want a dedicated savings account for emergencies.

Although it’s more rare, there are some plans that pay the veterinarian themselves, which means your money won’t be tied up while you wait for the insurance provider’s approval. There’s also no risk that you’ll pay out of pocket and not be reimbursed later if the care isn’t covered.

What Does Pet Insurance Pay For?

Pet insurance pays for unexpected veterinary expenses such as illnesses and accidents. For example, most plans will cover care for feline kidney disease or surgery for bowel obstructions if your kitten eats something they shouldn’t.

For reference, I paid thousands of dollars at an emergency vet when my own cat was diagnosed with kidney disease–and he now needs to be on a prescription diet that costs over $120 per month. Pet insurance would’ve paid for these expenses had I had it at the time, and kidney disease is one of the most common illnesses in senior cats.

When it comes to surgeries, I’ve never had a kitten need surgery for a blockage–but it can cost several thousands of dollars.

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

, Is Pet Insurance Right For You And Your Cat?, The Comforted Kitty

Although pet insurance can save you a lot of money, it’s unlikely that it’ll pay your entire vet bill. Most pet insurance plans cover a certain percentage of your vet costs after you’ve paid a deductible. If your plan has a $250 deductible, insurance won’t pay anything until you’ve spent $250 on eligible vet care.

Plans can cover a low percentage of your pet’s care all the way up to full coverage. Typically, the plans that cover more also cost more monthly.

Your plan might also include a limit to what the insurance company will pay annually. If you exceed this limit, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for the rest of the year.

What Won’t Pet Insurance Pay For?

Pet insurance is meant to cover unexpected costs, so if something is routine, it’s likely not covered.

Here are some things that most pet insurance plans do not cover:

  • Exam fees
  • Routine wellness visits
  • Vaccinations
  • Dental cleanings
  • Spay or neuter surgery
  • Pre-existing conditions

Make sure to read through your plan carefully before purchase, as every company and plan is different. Some plans allow you to pay extra for routine veterinary care such as vaccines and wellness visits.

Alternatives to Pet Insurance

, Is Pet Insurance Right For You And Your Cat?, The Comforted Kitty

If pet insurance isn’t right for you and your cat, you can still find alternate ways to pay for their care! Here are some examples:

A Pet Savings Account

Starting a savings account for your cat is most helpful prior to adoption, since emergencies can happen at any time.

Most people put aside what they’d be spending on pet insurance each month after adoption, and this isn’t as advisable. This is because it only works out if your cat gets sick in old age–not if an accident or illness occurs shortly after their adoption.

Having a savings account also means there’s a limit to how much you can spend on your cat’s care, while some pet insurance plans are unlimited–and all of them reset annually.

Low-Cost Vet Clinics

Low-cost veterinary clinics are a huge support for those on a tight budget. They often see many patients a day for a cheap cost.

Some of these clinics aren’t as thorough, so it may be a good idea to use them in combination with another veterinarian. They tend to focus on basic care and don’t always have the equipment needed for extensive diagnostics, such as radiography. However, it definitely depends on the clinic!

Free Vaccination Events

You might have free vaccination events in your area. They’re often sponsored by local shelters, rescues, or veterinary clinics.

If you can find out when these events take place, you can ease your financial burden considerably when it comes to vet bills.

Credit Cards

Another option is to finance your cat’s care through a credit card. The most popular for veterinary care is Care Credit, but any credit card will work.

Charging your cat’s care on a credit card shouldn’t be your first resort, since interest can pile up over time. Instead, it’s recommended for emergencies when you don’t have pet insurance or savings.

Pet Charities and Crowdfunding

Look for local charities that help people pay for their cat’s medical care. You might be able to receive assistance from them!

Another option is to ask your community to help out by fundraising for your cat’s expenses.

Of course, both of these can be unreliable–so they aren’t something to plan for, but instead are ideas to consider in a crisis.

I hope this article has helped you to decide whether pet insurance is right for your cat. Remember that pet insurance can save you thousands of dollars in the right circumstances, so don’t dismiss it! But if it isn’t right for you, it’s okay to find an alternative to funding your cat’s veterinary bills.

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