Between 2020 and 2021, around five million cats were acquired by households in the US, bringing the total domestic feline count to 79 million. A lot of people found that having a pet cat can actually be a good break from their typical daily routines. However, it can be challenging to care for pets, as they demand a lot of attention and financial investment. Your pet will also require medical care when they get sick.
In the case of cats, we often undervalue their health needs. Insights from Sound Dollar on the costs of cat ownership point out that only 40% of cat owners actually take their pet to the veterinarian, as opposed to 90% of dog owners. Given that cats are notorious for hiding their illnesses, they really do need to be checked by a vet regularly. Routine check-ups and tests for a pet cat can cost you anywhere from $200 to $500 annually.
These costs may catch you off guard if you don’t plan well, and emergency expenses can be tricky. One of the ways you can manage expensive medical bills is through cat insurance. Business Insider puts the average cost of cat insurance at $12 to $30 a month. Although these rates may seem like a lot at first, having a plan can help you and your cat at the most crucial times.
What is cat insurance?
Much like other insurance policies, cat insurance is a monthly or annual premium that acts as a financial safety net when health problems arise. Cat insurance can fall under general pet health insurance, which reimburses pet owners for medical fees. Some insurance plans can also compensate for a variety of scenarios, such as in the event of a cat’s death, injury, or permanent disability.
What does cat insurance really cover?
Generally, most accidents and illnesses are covered under cat insurance. Accident coverage is widely available and there are even specific “accident-only plans” which are cheaper alternatives to regular insurance. One situation that can be classified as an accident is something we’ve described in our post entitled “Cat Stung by Bee or Wasp? What You Need to Know” — a minor injury like a bee or wasp sting can be covered by cat insurance. As some stings can be fatal for your pet, it’s essential to take them to the vet immediately. With a cat insurance policy, you can act quickly and decisively when accidents happen, instead of worrying about costs.
Illness insurance is another way to cut future costs. However, do be aware that some policy providers may refuse to give you an insurance plan if your cat has a pre-existing medical condition. There are also some providers that grant preventative care packages, but these usually come with additional costs. Since coverages are different per provider and plan, it’s important to read all the policies to know what benefits your cat is eligible for.
How can you apply for cat insurance?
You can start by asking a vet, breeder, or even a nearby animal shelter if they have any recommended insurers. A report from NAPHIA on “Pet Insurance in North America” states that there are more than 25 insurance companies and 20 associated pet insurance brands, so narrowing down your choices can make your search quicker for the best provider possible.
Many cat insurance providers are also available online, and most applications can be done digitally. Before signing off on any paperwork, keep in mind these following terms:
· Annual/incident deductible – the amount you have to pay before the insurance takes effect
· Reimbursement levels – the percentage of the bill does the insurer pay for
· Annual maximum – the maximum amount your insurer can pay each year
Insurance isn’t always comprehensive and you should watch out for constraints, such as 12-month time-limited policies, which only cover a specific illness for a year before excluding coverage for the same condition in the future. You should also consider your cat’s breed and medical history, as they may be more prone to certain sicknesses that would be more suited for lifetime coverage. One tip is to ask your provider to give definitive examples and explain the coverage in detail before you accept a policy.
Getting cat insurance reduces the risk of costly medical procedures, but this doesn’t necessarily eliminate expenditures and budgeting is still essential for cat care. That said, cat insurance is great for peace of mind, as you’re assured that you can afford life-saving treatments for your cats.