Pet insurance: The cost of keeping cats

CATS_2
We bought two cats last summer. Gorgeous things they are. Maine coons. A very different kind of breed to your run-of-the-mill moggie. They’re incredibly affectionate, almost dog-like in the way they follow you round the house, come running when you call them and go to great lengths to nuzzle up tight during the night. As Charles Dickens said, “What greater love than the love of a cat?”

To be honest, they were much more expensive than I’d bargained for, but my partner was achingly-keen to have them and so we stumped up £200 each for the little blighters. That seemed like a hefty amount at the time but it soon nearly doubled when we took them to the vets. £100 each to be registered and have their first set of injections.

We’d had cats when I was young at home but I had little to no responsibility for their health and wellbeing, so, knowing practically nothing about the ins and outs of cat care, I immediately plunged into online research. It was more complicated than I thought.

Feline the cost
The innoculations (against enteritis, herpes, calicivirus and leukaemia!) were understandable enough, though I was surprised we needed a couple of visits. The worming tablets, too. Yes, I remember now my mother desperately wretling to keep the cat’s mouth open while dropping the crumbs of a small pill down its snaking neck. I remember too the ointment for fleas which is dropped on to the back of the neck, though again, I thought this was a one-off, not a monthly ongoing event.

bills

Next up, the big chop. Neutering. That will surely cost the earth? Not so bad in fact. £50 each. Now we can finally let them out, right? Apprantly not. They need to be microchipped first. This was definitely a new one on me but makes good sense and was only around £30 per cat. But the total cost in the first few months had shot up to around £1,000 by now and that’s before the cat food (£200 – we experiemtned with many different types) and cat toys (£400 – we went a little overboard on the indoor tree-houses).

To be sure, insure
On the latest trip to the vet I think he could sense my anxiety at the mounting costs. “This is it now, right? We don’t need to come back again for anything?” I asked him hopefully. “All done. Just bring them back for their check-ups or if you think they’ve developed an illness.” My eyes darted about my face. I hadn’t thought of them getting ill. What if they get ill? There’s no NHS for cats, is there? “You might want to think about pet insurance,” added the vet.

Oh great, I thought. Here comes the hard sell. Thankfully our local vet is a small independent business and he was refreshingly honest. He told us that some pet insurance companies are a complete rip off. “We hear lots of stories where pet owners are waiting months on end for the insurer to cough up and sometimes never do. Quite often it’s the bigger so-called reputable insurers too.”

>cat and dog

Cat remedies
He gave us a couple of names to research. I was amazed at the cost and the difference in cost between the range of pet-care plans available. It was £12 per month for a very basic plan but it insticntively felt like a lot of potential ailments weren’t covered – no doubt an intentional part of the marketing spiel. At the other end of the spectrum, the luxury level of pet insurance, you could pay £28 per month which would give you cover for all manner of treatments and remedies, including acupuncture no less!

As with all three-tier options, the majority of us hone in on the middle one. Mid-range feels good, not too stingey on the cats and not too expensive on our wallet. The Classic pet-plan was £20 per month. It still seemed an awful lot. For two cats that’s £500 a year. It’s more than our car insurance, double our buildings insurance and 10 times our travel insurance. Do cats really get I’ll that often?

Risky business
The nagging in my head tells me I shouldn’t take the chance. A quick google reveals horror stories of pets needing medial treatment for months on end with their owners struggling to pay off thousands of pounds in bills.

Utimately – for now at least – we have decided not too get insurance. Fingers crossed we won’t need to fork out for expensive trips to the vet ovr the coming years. It feels that assigning a budget of £500 a year for the occasions we will need to get them seen to is a substantial contingency pot. I’d be surprised if we need to shell out more than that, but we will see how it goes.

ali1

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