As the scope of available medical care for cats has increased over time, so too have the costs associated with veterinary care. Here are our top 10 tips for managing these costs.
The number one tip for managing vet costs is to carry pet insurance for your cat. We recommend Trupanion pet insurance as they cover 90%. Sample premiums vary from $24 and up per month depending on the deductible for a 1-year-old domestic shorthair female cat. (Quote obtained online July 2019). Based on difficult and sometimes heartbreaking decisions we see at the clinic, pet insurance is recommended in every income bracket.
If costs are a concern, keep it to one cat and buy pet insurance and give them the best care you can. Two cats double all costs, both vet costs and all other costs. The remaining litter mate will be certain to find a loving home.
When at the vet, ask for all options before making a decision for treatment. For example some cases can be treated either with IV fluids in hospital or with much less costly sub Q fluids at home.
If you think there is something wrong, get to the vet asap. If you wait until the evening or the weekend, you may have to use the emergency hospital where their high overhead means higher bills for you.
If adopting an older pet, remember costs are higher in later years. If taking an older cat as a favour to someone, consider asking the donor of the cat for a contribution for the first year of vet costs for things like exam, blood work ,deworming, etc. We see very kind, well-meaning people getting surprised by the medical condition of a new (to them) older cat and associated costs.
Have an annual exam for your cat. This is basic care not an extra. Just like with people, if we catch it early there is a better chance that we can fix it.
Spend resources on a quality food and measure it. Dental and urinary problems are very common but can often be prevented by choosing the correct foods. An overweight cat wastes money on food and costs more for weight related health problems.
Have an indoor cat. This will avoid many of the expensive events we see at the clinic such as car trauma, worms, falls, cat bite abscesses etc etc. Fleas are also rare in indoor cats so cost can usually be saved on flea prevention as well as on outdoor cat vaccines. At a minimum, cats should be indoors at night during hours of darkness.
Avoid raw food. Always cook raw meats to 170 degrees F. We don't eat raw chicken and neither should your cat, and for the same reasons. Raw diets can cause salmonella, E. coli, and other food-borne illness in the cat with or without showing any signs. Babies, elderly people, and immune-compromised individuals can become seriously ill from handling animals that have consumed a raw diet.
Get pet insurance. This is in twice because many people say they have not heard of it!