12 Tips For Finding Affordable Vet Care For Cats
There's nothing more heartbreaking and frightening than discovering your cat needs medical care that will cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. You want him to have the best care, but how will you ever be able to afford it? Here are some ways to be able to provide affordable veterinary care for your cat.
1. Shop around: Many spay/neuter clinics offer other low-cost veterinary services and will charge less for your cat's annual wellness exam than your regular vet.
2. Just say no to vaccinations. They're expensive, and after their kitten shots, your cats don't need them, especially if they stay inside.
3. Refuse prescription food. It, too, is expensive and doesn't provide adequate nutrition for your cat. You can achieve the same therapeutic benefits -- low carb, low in phosphorous, preventing bladder stones and crystals, help with weight loss -- by tweaking your cat's diet. You'll find all the information you need to do this correctly online. A Yahoo Groups email list specific to your cat's condition will also help.
4. Do it yourself. If you have a diabetic cat, learn how to home test so you can avoid having those costly blood glucose curves done by your vet. Another benefit of home testing is that it will keep your cat safe and help you avoid hypoglycemia. If your cat gets regular vitamin B12 injections, Adequan or fluids for kidney disease, tell your vet you want to do them at home and ask him to show you how.
5. Use your own pharmacy for your cat's meds. They'll be considerably less expensive than they are when you get them from your vet. And many pharmacies will let you use your prescription discount card when buying medicine for your cat. There are also discount prescription drug plans for cats. Here are some tips for giving your cat pills.
6. Use a Canadian pharmacy if your diabetic cat is on human insulin. It will be much more affordable, especially if you buy pens instead of vials.
7. Get a second opinion if your cat's treatment sounds prohibitively expensive. Another vet might provide the same services for less.
8. Set a budget. If you tell your vet you have only a certain amount of money to spend, he'll probably respect your limitations. If he's ungracious or tries to make you feel guilty, find another vet who's willing to work with you.
9. Don't take shortcuts. Have all the diagnostics done at once so you'll know your cat is getting the correct treatment and you won't have to pay for a second vet visit when he's not getting better. If your cat needs surgery or has a serious condition, ask for a referral to a specialist. Specialists don't charge much more than regular vets and getting it right the first time will save you money in the long run. Never try to diagnose and treat a health problem on your own. Correcting mistakes can be expensive and could cost your cat his life.
10. Plan ahead. Consider pet insurance for your cat, but read all the fine print to make sure the plan covers everything that's important to you. Or start a savings account specifically for your cat's healthcare. Another possibility is to have a high-limit credit card that you use just for vet care. Care Credit is a low-interest credit card for medical expenses, including vet care. While there are discount veterinary care plans, they often turn out to be just as expensive as insurance.
11. Keep up with the latest treatments. Again, you'll spend less money in the long run if your vet gets it right the first time. But few vets are able to keep up with the latest treatments for every disease they treat, so do some research and be prepared to ask questions and make suggestions. A Yahoo Groups email list can help you with this.
12. Keep your cat healthy. A species-appropriate all-wet-food diet, minimal or no vaccinations and a stress-free lifestyle are just a few of the ways to avoid costly chronic diseases like diabetes, irritable bowel disease and bladder stones and crystals later in life.
Financial Help With Your Cat's Vet Bills
Getting a grant from a charity that helps pay vet bills isn't always easy, but it can be done. Just be sure to read the guidelines carefully to make sure you qualify before you apply. Some organizations will require a written prognosis from your vet before giving you money, and many will expect you to chip in with your own resources.
These are some of the charities that help with veterinary care for cats when money is available. If fundraising is slow or the demand is high, the group might not have money for you, at least not right away. And many of the grants are very small, so be prepared to ask for help from more than one organization.
This list was current as of September 2015.
American Veterinary Charitable Fund makes grants to veterinarians providing direct charitable care to clients' animals. Ask your vet to apply on your behalf.
Banfield Charitable Trust HOPE Fund provides money for life-threatening emergencies. Recipients must be Banfield clients. The Trust offers other kinds of financial assistance for Banfield clients, too.
Big Hearts Fund helps cats with heart disease. However, the charity is reorganizing to better manage its huge caseload, and as of September 2015 was accepting applications for surgical cases only.
Care Credit is a low-interest credit card that can be used for veterinary care. You might get a higher credit limit if you apply through your vet.
Dylan's Hearts helps low income families whose animals have a life-threatening illness or critical injury. Your veterinarian must apply on your behalf.
Kobi's Fund For VAS Cats assists people whose cats have vaccination site sarcomas. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see whether you might be eligible and find the application.
Red Rover provides small grants to people who can demonstrate financial need and whose animals are in need of urgent and specific medical care.
The Dog and Cat Cancer Fund helps income eligible people whose animal companions have a good prognosis.
The Murphy and Sugar Foundation helps with veterinary office visits, testing/diagnostics and medications as needed for income-eligible people who would otherwise not be able to care for their critically ill companion animals.
The Onyx and Breezy Foundation can help with medical hardship.
Paws 4 A Cure helps with all kinds of veterinary expenses except spay/neuter, vaccinations and other routine care.
Pet Assistance provides interest free loans and grants to people in financial need. To qualify, your cat must have a good prognosis.
The Pet Fund pays for treatments that are above and beyond normal care. Because of long wait times the organization can't fund emergencies. Payments are made to veterinarians who must be approved by the program.
Rose's Fund For Animals helps animals with life-threatening conditions who need immediate care and have a good prognosis. Your veterinarian will have to contact the Fund for you.
Shakespeare Animal Fund helps older adults, people who are disabled and those whose income does not exceed current poverty guidelines pay for emergency veterinary care.
Ask For Help
Most rescue groups need to conserve their limited resources for the cats already in their care, but a local group might be willing to fund-raise for you or help you with fundraising. Facebook is a great place for fundraising, especially if a rescue posts for you on its fan page. Although there are many fundraising websites, Youcaring.com is free, and there are no transaction fees if your donors use PayPal.