If you own a pet, then you are surely familiar with the expenses that can come with their care. Veterinary care is one of the most costly parts of owning a pet, and many pet owners are always questioning how they can find affordable vet care. It’s important you take your cat to the vet on a regular basis just for general check-ups, but if you happen to run into anything unexpected, illness, injury or other problem, your vet bill can suddenly go sky high. So here are nine tips on how to find affordable vet care for your cat.
1. Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Services
It’s important to get your cat spayed or neutered, not only to help prevent overpopulation of cats, but it helps them live longer, healthier lives in the long run by helping to prevent certain medical issues that can develop due to not having the procedure performed. There are typically free, or low-cost spay and neuter clinics in just about any city. You can contact your local humane society, animal shelter or rescue group to give you the names of clinics who perform this service at low costs, or maybe even for free.
2. TNR for Ferals
TNR stands for, trap-neuter-release programs, and they are here to help feral cats. For anyone who has ever fed a stray cat in their neighborhood but can’t afford to take on any more than that in way of caring for the cat, yo can help to control the population of cats by either trapping the cat yourself, or having this group trap cats for you. Once the cat is trapped, it is brought into a shelter or humane society, spayed or neutered, then released back out to reunite with its colony. Some programs may also provide shots and parasite prevention for the feral if they can.
3. Low-Cost Vaccines
Like any pet, cats need their yearly vaccines in order to keep them healthy and prevent the cat from spreading diseases to other cats. You can check with your local humane society and shelters to see about low-cost vaccines or names of clinics that offer this service. There are some pet supply stores that will offer this service at certain times as well.
4. Start a Pet Savings Account
This is a good option for budgeting anticipated costs related to your cat’s healthcare. When you start a pet savings account, make it routine to contribute to it every month so you have a big enough account to cover yearly vet visits, plus those emergencies you may not expect. You should start a savings for every pet you own so you don’t deplete one, then have that unexpected expense emerge for the other and have no savings to cover it. It takes dedication to restraint to not want to dip into it for other purposes, so vow not to touch it once you get it started, and use it only for pet bills.
5. Pet Insurance
There is pet insurance available today, however, it is really just for emergency type care – injury or unexpected illness, and not for regular, preventative care. The pet insurance will also not cover any pre-existing conditions, for instance, if your cat is already being treated for a medical problem and you purchase the insurance after-the-fact, it will not cover any medical care related to that condition going forward. This is important to know, so it is always best to get a plan while your cat is young and healthy so that it will cover what you need it to if the time arises.
6. Wellness Plans
Some veterinarians are now offering wellness plans for pets. You pay a certain amount of money upfront, depending on the type of plan you get, and whenever you take your cat in for her well checks and preventative care, it’s already been covered and there is no out of pocket expense for you at the time of the visit. This is not like the insurance plans that cover illnesses and injuries, so don’t be confused. If anything, they resemble more of the pet savings account idea.
7. Payment plans
Sometimes vet bills run sky high, depending on what the situation is, and you are caught off guard with the amount due. At the time of service, if you don’t have the amount needed, you can talk to the clinic to see if they will let you set up a payment plan. Some will, and some will also charge a small processing (interest) to let you do this. This can be helpful if you don’t have the means to pay for the charges at the time.
8. Vet Expense Credit Cards
A third-party credit card may be helpful for some people who need to be able to pay their high cat care costs in increments. One card, called CareCredit, offers you the ability to get your pet care paid for and make payments over a period of time, interest free. Depending on the charge put on the card, you may get six months, or even a year of interest free payments set up on the card.
9. Financial Assistance Programs
When all other resources have been visited and you are dealing with an urgent medical care situation for our cat, there are some organizations that offer help to people who have a pet that needs medical attention but doesn’t have the means to pay for it. If you adopted your cat from a shelter, you will want to start there to see what assistance they may be willing to offer. Here are some others that might offer assistance:
- Brown Dog Foundation – Funding for families who have a sick pet and the pet would do good on treatment, but the family has no way of affording the treatment.
- Cody’s Club – This foundation offers some assistance for some of the costs of radiation for pets.
- Dogs on Deployment – Qualifying military members can find some help with a pet, either dog or cat, during their time in need.
- Handicapped Pets Foundation – If you own a handicapped pet, this foundation provides equipment for them, like wheelchairs or other special needs items.
- Kobi’s Fund – For owners who have a feline with vaccine-associated sarcoma, you can find financial assistance through this program.
- The Pet Fund – This is a generalized program of offering financial help to pet owners who’s pet needs veterinary care.
- RedRover – Financial aid is given to those with low-income and those who are survivors of domestic abuse.
- Shakespeare Animal Fund – This organization offers financial help for emergency care for pet owners that are living on a fixed income or below poverty level.
Planning ahead for how you will take care of your cat financially, ahead of time, is always the best thing to do. When it comes to owning a pet, it is much like having a child and you never know when they are going to need medical care, or what those charges will be. The more prepared you are before it happens, the better able you will be to just focus on helping your cat get through the tough times and on to living a happy, healthy life.