Cat Insurance – 9 Things You Must Know Before You Buy

Cat undergoing surgery

A Night Of Trauma

Cat insurance can protect you and your cat during the most frightening and unexpected times in both of your lives. I became all too aware of this fact when I spent a long and terrifying night in a pet hospital waiting room, having to make tortured choices about life and death for my fuzzy buddy. Ultimately, it all came down to money. The trauma of that night caused me to dig deep and do extensive research. I spent weeks wrapping my head around cat insurance, all it covers, and whether it’s worth it.

But researching cat pet insurance felt like finding my way through a complex maze.

One of the biggest complications in reviewing the research was finding objective sources. I was uncomfortable when I discovered that most articles were written by insurance companies trying to convince me to buy their insurance products. Or they were written by bloggers or veterinarians writing for specific insurance companies. Obviously, these companies are clear about what they want – they want you to buy their insurance – NOW! But my concerns were more personal. Does buying cat insurance make sense? What does cat insurance cost? Is cat insurance worth it? What is the overall cost of cat care? What do I need to know when comparing cat insurance policies?

Here are my findings:

Does Buying Cat Pet Insurance Make Sense
What Does Cat Insurance Cost?
Is Cat Insurance Worth It?
What Does It Cost To Take Care Of A Cat?
Cat Pet Insurance – What to Know When You Compare
Types of Cat Insurance Coverage
Cat Insurance – Comparing Quotes and Comparing Covered Services
Cat Insurance – Options and Choices and Services
Cat Insurance – Always read the fine print

Does Buying Cat Pet Insurance Make Sense?

In some ways, our fuzzy buddies are just like you and me. They can have accidents, get injured, develop serious illnesses, or contract life-threatening diseases. Any of these can break the bank if you are not prepared.

Because emergency costs are the most difficult to plan for, both vets and insurance experts suggest that owners look for a policy offering coverage for the unexpected. Let’s say your kitty is struck by a car. A week at a vet hospital and all the injury-related care could easily cost between $5,000 – $10,000.  It can cost even more, depending on the severity of the injuries.

Having insurance dramatically knocks down the stress and anxiety of paying for the health care costs. Believe me, if something happens to your little one, you’ll have plenty to worry about.

But, if you have insurance in place, you can focus your attention on managing the steps toward your furry buddy’s recovery, not on where the money will come from to pay for her care. Said plainly, having cat health insurance potentially helps you avoid the heartbreak of having to put your pet down because you can’t afford the life-saving treatment.

Expert Tip: The choice to buy cat insurance ultimately comes down to your personal risk tolerance, your financial security, and how emotionally comfortable you are with the risk that if the unexpected occurs, the cost of keeping kitty alive is going to be something you can afford.

What Does Cat Insurance Cost?

Cat insurance averages between $9 – $28 a month or $108 – $336 per year.

Is Cat Insurance Worth It?

Compare that $9 – $28 a month or the $108 – $336 per year to the following:

CareCredit estimates the average lifetime of vet expenses for your cat will be $9,150. If you have cat insurance you will pay only a small portion of that $9,150 amount.

Now add to those routine veterinary expenses the dreaded and all too likely unexpected costs for treatment of:

Cat ear infection:$150
Diarrhea or Intestinal Issues:$385
Cat eye disease:$225 per year
Cat arthritis:$500 per year
Cat diabetes:$1,634 per year
Cat seizures:$2,000 per year
Cat dental disease or periodontitis:$775
Cat urinary tract or bladder infection:$1,100
Cat heart murmur:$1,440
Cat broken bone:$2,300
Cat surgery to remove swallowed foreign object:$3,000
Cat diagnosis and treatment for cancer:$3,200 – $ 10,000
Cat kidney failure:$15,000

If you have that kind of cash readily available, then you don’t need pet insurance. But, if those costs would be hard for you to come up with easily in an emergency, then cat insurance is the only safety net that can protect your kitty’s life and lessen kitty’s suffering in these unanticipated and heart-wrenching moments of life.

What Does It Cost To Take Care Of A Cat?

The annual pet industry survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association notes several significant facts about the money we spend on our cat’s health.

The newest estimated annual amount we’ll spend on our pets is $109.6 billion (yes, with a “b”). This number accounts for ALL manner of worthwhile items and services for our little fuzzy ones.

But out of that gigantic amount of money, we will spend $32.3 billion (see the “b” again?) specifically on veterinary care, medical treatments, and pharmaceutical products for our fur buddies. That number does not include over-the-counter medications, vitamins, or supplements. Once you factor in those extra costs, it puts the revised amount at close to 40% of that $109.6 billion, or approximately $44 billion per year

Cats are expensive. According to Kiplinger Magazine, there are 13 anticipated costs of owning a cat. Of those costs, almost half of them are medical and wellness costs.

Since so much of the budget of owning a feline furball is tied up in the wellness of our kitties, before we just add cat insurance to the budget, let’s examine what you need to know before you take the plunge.

According to the 2021-2022 APPA (American Pet Product Association) Survey and a review by Kiplinger’s magazine, some of the basic annual medical, veterinary, and health and wellness expenses for cat owners come in at:

Spay/Neuter Costs: Surgery can cost upwards of $300 (costs can frequently be lower at Humane Society or Animal Control locations in your area.)

Routine Vet Exams: Standard vet exams average $55- $280, depending on what services your cat needs. (Keeping your cat at an appropriate weight will significantly lower that cost. Overweight and obese cats are much more inclined to suffer health issues. And the added weight can increase the severity of those health woes.)

Vaccinations: For kittens’ core vaccinations come in at around $80; after that, annual vaccinations and boosters average $50 a year.

Emergency Visits: There is no accurate way to average emergency care because it is situational. (For example, if a cat has a thorn stuck in its paw, the cost of that emergency visit will be far less than if your kitty chowed down a piece of plastic or string with would require surgery)

Dental Costs: According to, the prices on cat dental care range from $70-$400 for teeth cleaning; this cost does not include any tooth extractions or treatment for any gum disease.

The anticipated healthcare-related costs noted above round out to approximately $450-$1060 per year per cat. And just a reminder, as I noted earlier, emergency expenses are not included in that average because they are so unpredictable.

Expert Tip: A single cat medical emergency can cost thousands of dollars. If you are not financially able to take on a large unexpected monetary burden like that, then small monthly insurance payments can protect you financially and safeguard your kitty’s life.

Cat Pet Insurance – What to Know When You Compare

There is a lot of similarity between human health insurance policies and cat health insurance policies. The point of both is to lessen the financial burden of dealing with medical expenses.

  • Take your time reviewing the different companies and policies out there, so you choose a cat health insurance plan that is the right fit for the needs of you, your family, and your fuzzy kitty.

Types of Cat Insurance Coverage

Most cat and pet insurance companies have three types of coverage options:

  • Accident only – (Least expensive)
  • Accident and illness
  • Wellness plans – (Most expensive) These plans are the most comprehensive and cover the most services and treatments. Often tending to cover preventive-care visits, like routine check-ups and vaccinations. Also, you can buy a wellness policy as a stand-alone policy or as an “add-on” to an accident and illness policy.

Cat Insurance – Comparing Quotes and Comparing Covered Services

  • When you compare quotes from different pet insurance companies, the rates (the monthly or annual cost for the insurance) are based on your cat’s:Age – The older the animal, the more costly the policy. Additionally, most companies have an age ceiling for starting coverage for a pet.
  • Breed – Different breeds have a greater likelihood of falling prey to various medical conditions and health issues.
  • Pre-existing conditions – If there are any. Often a company will not cover a pre-existing condition, but they will still cover any other health issues unrelated to the pre-existing condition.
  • Location – This is relevant because veterinary care can be more or less expensive depending on where you live.

Expert Tip: The younger your cat is when you enroll for pet insurance, the lower the cost will be.

Cat Insurance – Options and Choices and Services

As with human policies, cat insurance also allows you to:

  • Choose a doctor/vet of your choice and change it at any time
  • Choose different levels of coverage
  • Choose from options to pay annually or monthly
  • Choose between plans that offer basic coverage for emergencies only (like accidents or injuries) or more comprehensive care for a wider variety of health and preventative care (remember to anticipate that the more situations covered, the higher the cost)
  • Choose your reimbursement rate (some plans reimburse as low as 70% while others go as high as 90% of the cost of care)
  • Choose your deductible (your out-of-pocket costs)

Note of caution: be aware that when an accident, injury, emergency, or appointment occurs, the insurance company’s coverage will most likely be in the form of reimbursement. This means you will be responsible for paying the entire bill at the time of treatment. Then you send the information to the insurance company. Once the insurance company receives the claim, they will reimburse you for expenses minus your policy’s deductible.

Expert Tip: Consider asking your vet which pet insurance company they would recommend. After all, your vet’s office deals with these companies daily. Both your vet and their office staff know a lot about the operations, reimbursements, and customer service of the various pet insurance companies.

Cat Insurance – Always read the fine print!

Before deciding to buy cat insurance, make sure you understand what will and will not be covered by the plan you choose. Each insurance company has policies with nuances and differences which can make or break whether a policy is right for you and your pet.

Sometimes a policy will set limits on how much they will pay for medications or treatments. Some policies will allow alternative therapies like acupuncture or acupressure. Many policies will offer multi-pet discounts. I advise you to make a list of essential items you want, need, or expect in a policy. Then look carefully at the various cat insurance products available.

Pay close attention to the details. The last thing you want is for your kitty to be diagnosed with a condition or need a treatment that is not covered by the plan you’ve selected. So, look carefully and read thoroughly before you leap.

In the end, if you take the time to compare different companies, you will find the policy which offers your beloved fuzzball quality health benefits while giving you long-term peace of mind.

What To Do Next?

Pet insurance is only one way to uptick the quality of your cat’s health. But there are all kinds of ways to improve and maintain your cat’s health. Check out our guide Best Cat Food for Optimal Health.