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How to Be Prepared for Your Cat's Veterinary Bills

Cat vet costs climbing; prepare for cat vet bills.

Cats are among the greatest joys that many people have in their lives. However, they do come with expenses and chief among those are the veterinary bills. How can you be prepared for these veterinary costs so that you can focus on providing the best care for your cat?

Research and Prepare for the Costs of Routine Care before Acquiring a Cat

All cats will require a certain level of routine preventative and maintenance care.

  • Ensure that you have the money to care for your new cat's routine needs before you acquire a cat. Many people just don't know how much a cat, especially a kitten, will cost per year. Prepare yourself by contacting several veterinary clinics to find out what your new cat will need and how much it will cost before you adopt. You may have to wait and save a little bit, but you'll feel better being able to properly care for your new feline friend.

    • If you adopt a kitten, she will need at least the following: a series of vaccinations, possibly a spay or neuter surgery, dewormings, and flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives.
    • If you adopt an adult cat, she will need a wellness exam bi-yearly or yearly, periodic vaccinations, fecal sample checks, and preventative medications at a minimum. Some veterinarians also recommend screening tests such as bloodwork at intervals as well.
  • Providing your cat with good routine care can save you money in the long run. Lots of problems can be prevented with proper vaccinations and preventative care. Your veterinarian can identify any current problems and potential problems earlier when he examines your cat on a routine basis. Keeping small issues from becoming big problems reduces the associated costs.
  • Shop around for price but also get recommendations for veterinarians from family and friends. The saying is that you can't tell a book by its cover and you also can't tell a veterinarian by his prices. Shopping around to find out what the veterinary clinics in your area recommend yearly for cats is a great idea and you can rule out any clinics that are too expensive. But don't automatically choose the cheapest one or the one with the fewest medical recommendations. Talk with your family and friends to find out which veterinarians they trust, and use that information, together with the results of your phone shopping, to choose a doctor for your new cat.
  • Make sure you factor in food and gear. Routine costs like food, litter boxes, cat litter, beds, grooming tools, scratching posts, and toys can add up. You'll want to be sure that you consider all of the costs of a new cat before you commit.

Be Prepared for Emergencies and Common Problems

Can it be proven: do dogs get jealous?

Hopefully your cat will never experience an emergency but it could happen. If it does, having a plan beforehand will ease your stress about the costs and allow you to focus on your cat's health.

  • Know where to go in the event of an after-hours emergency. Does your regular veterinarian see emergencies? If so, how much will he charge for the exam? Does he allow payment plans for diagnosis and treatment or will you need to pay in full at the time of the visit? If your veterinarian does not see after-hours cases, research the emergency clinics in the area so that you know their prices and payment options. Ask your regular veterinarian what emergency clinic he recommends.
  • If your cat engages in activities that are associated with common injuries, such as going outside, or belongs to a breed that is predisposed to certain health conditions, know the common costs of treatment and save up ahead of time. Talk with your veterinarian during your cat's regular wellness visits about this. Based on your cat's lifestyle, breed, and state of health, he may be able to foresee certain problems and give you an idea of their associated costs.
  • Be prepared for toxic ingestion emergencies by knowing who to call. It's important to call a pet poison hotline rather than a human poison hotline if your cat has ingested something and you think might be toxic. Pet poison helplines have large databases full of animal-specific information. Good sources are:

While there are sometimes costs for calling these hotlines, doing so will help you to determine whether there is truly a problem that requires a veterinary visit, which can save you money. Also, if your cat has ingested something toxic and you wait for symptoms to begin before visiting the veterinarian because you aren't sure if it's really a problem, you are likely to spend a lot more money to treat her at that point. Your cat may also suffer more in these cases and have a poorer prognosis. The hotlines can help you make these decisions, potentially saving money and your cat's life. Once you have your case on file with the hotline, the specialized veterinarians there will be happy to talk with your veterinarian and help him treat the toxin using the latest available knowledge base. These hotlines provide a valuable service.

Ask for Discounts

  • Many clinics give discounts for senior citizens or those with multiple pets. They may not advertise this so don't be afraid to ask.
  • Ask if the clinic has a referral program. You can often receive discounts for referring your friends and family to your favorite veterinarian. If your vet doesn't already have a program like this, your suggestion may prompt him to start one.

Care Credit

  • Care Credit is a credit card with a zero or low percent interest rate for veterinary care, and the card can be used for certain human health care needs as well. You can apply online at before you go to your veterinarian to see if you qualify. Be sure to call and ask if your veterinarian accepts this form of payment before your appointment. Having a Care Credit card in your wallet just in case your cat ever has an emergency or a big illness will give you peace of mind.

Pet Insurance

  • Apply for and get on a pet insurance plan when you first acquire your cat. Don't wait until your cat has been diagnosed with a problem to apply, as the issue won't be covered then.
  • Shop companies and be sure to compare "apples to apples." Make sure that the plans you are comparing offer the same coverage. There are lots of pet insurance companies out there and more are emerging all the time.
  • Here at, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation is the company that we recommend for your easy-to-understand insurance plan. You will be able to choose your own veterinarian, have a percentage of your bills covered with no incident or lifetime caps, and genetic conditions are covered too. Get your free quote today!

Second Opinions

  • If your cat has an illness and it isn't improving, or if she needs a big procedure or surgery, get a second opinion. If your cat is not in an emergency situation and your veterinarian is recommending something that costs a lot of money or if he has been treating a problem for a while and it isn't improving, get a second opinion from another veterinarian. A second perspective can help you feel better about the course of your cat's treatment and may save you money.

All cats will cost some money to care for properly. If you are offered a free cat, remember that no cat is truly free. Use these tips to help prepare for your cat's veterinary costs, and you will be able to relax and enjoy your pet, knowing that you can provide him with the best care.

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