Sunday, June 1, 2014

What should I do if I can't afford to take my sick cat to the vet?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital
Tucson, AZ

All loving cat owners dread the idea of not being able to properly care for their pet.  Sometimes, unexpected expenses or illnesses arise during the course of pet ownership.  No one wants to be forced to choose euthanasia if they are unable to afford treatment for a treatable or curable disease.  Sadly, this can happen without knowing all of your available options, especially if you think your only option is the cash you have in your bank account. 

While your pet is healthy, look into pet insurance.  A new pet insurance policy is very unlikely to cover preexisting medical conditions.  Most plans have a low monthly premium, less than $40 per month.  Although pet insurance will not cover 100% of your bill, many comprehensive medical plans will substantially reimburse you, when you submit a claim covered by your pet's policy.

Very few veterinary practices allow clients to make payments on their bill.  Luckily, the acceptance of Care Credit as payment has become more commonplace.  This credit card can also be used at select human dentist offices, hearing doctors, eye doctors, etc.  Although the regular interest rate is very high, the promotional interest for balances over a certain amount can be as low as 0% for 6 months.  The option of making payments over 6 months can be a literal lifesaver.

You can also ask family or friends to help make donations.  The popularity of websites, such as Go Fund Me, and social media have made it easier to raise funds quicker than you can by word of mouth.  Even if people can only chip in $5-$20, that can quickly add up if you are able to reach 50+ people.  In this situation, even strangers who learn of your pet's story may open their heart and donate to the cause.

PAWSitively CATS relaxing at the shelter
Another option is to contact local rescue groups or animal charity groups.  Unfortunately, most of these organizations rely on donations and do not always have the funding available to help all cases.   However, the one you call may have a name and phone number of another organization to try. 

Ask your veterinarian about reputable pet insurance companies, whether they accept care credit, and about local organizations that help clients pay for services.  This way you can have a plan in place, in case something does happen later, or know who to contact if your pet is already ill.

Visit the cats available for adoption from PAWSitively CATS.

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