Owners are usually prepared for the predictable annual costs of a routine checkup and vaccinations, but what do you do when your cat has a medical emergency or comes down with a serious illness? We've prepared a comprehensive list of organizations that may be able to help you, but first let's review the ways in which you can help your cat on your own.
Plan Ahead: Emergencies WILL Happen
Start An Emergency Fund In Savings
Hopefully, you're reading this article while your cat is healthy and you're just being a responsible owner who's learning about cat care. If that is the case, now is the time to start planning ahead because yes, emergencies will happen. Even cats that live indoors can be injured or become sick and the older the pet, the more likely are you to come across a situation which could necessitate expensive - and sudden - medical care.
Discuss the options with your veterinarian and familiarize yourself with the scope of funds you may need down the road. You can also find out more about payment options your vet may offer regular customers. Most importantly, start saving up. If you put aside just $10 every week, the price of two Starbucks frappucinos, you will be saving over $500 a year. Within a year or two, you can have enough to cover most medical procedures. Even if you come across a procedure that's more expensive that what you managed to save by that point, you are far more likely to get help from others if you can at least pay most of the bill on your own.
Investigate Pet Insurance
If you're having trouble saving on your own, or if you think you may have to deal with big vet bills sooner rather than later (for example if your cat is a senior cat), you should look into pet insurance. Many insurance companies offer plans for pets but be sure to read the fine print and see what kind of coverage they offer and whether they'll work with the vet of your choice.
When Faced With An Expensive Medical Bill That You Can't Afford
Unfortunately, many cat owners fail to save up in advance and when emergency strikes, in the form of an injury or a sudden onset of disease, they have no way to cover the costs. It is a tragic reality that needs to be acknowledged: Too many pets are euthanized simply because their owners could not afford treatment.
Don't give up just yet!
1. Look a low-cost clinic.
You will find low-cost clinics listed below, organized by state. Even if the list doesn't include one that's near where you live, it's always a good idea to contact a local animal rescue organization and see if they can recommend a low-cost vet. Many veterinary schools offer medical services at discounted rates so if you live near a university or college contact them and see if they have such a program.
2. Try working with your veterinarian on payment plans.
Many veterinarians can offer payment plans, especially if you're a regular and trusted client.
3. See if you can get a credit line for the payments.
Many loan companies offer loans to help cover medical emergencies, including those of your pet. CareCredit is a company that offers veterinary financing which may be a viable option for you (TheCatSite.com is not affiliated with CareCredit or any other organization mentioned in this article, nor do we endorse using their services. Please check and see what may be a good fit for you).
4. Seek help from family members and friends.
People are more likely to help those whom they know and love. It's always best to look close before asking strangers.
5. Consider selling some of your belongings on Ebay or Craigslist.
6. Start a GoFundMe or a similar online fundraiser.
Don't expect money to start pouring in. You'll have to put a lot of effort into promoting your fundraiser. Many people are trying to raise funds for very similar causes so you may have more luck promoting your fundraiser within your social circles. If you do wish to post about your fundraiser in online communities it's best to check the rules first. Click here for the TCS rules.
7. Asking for help from a fund or charity.
There are funds and charities that help pet owners in funding veterinary care and you will find an extensive list of them here.
Keep in mind that budgets are always limited. In many cases requests are denied. Your chances of getting help increase if you are a senior or disabled but even then many of these organizations can only contribute part of the cost. Some of them limit their donations to a few hundreds dollars, or even less.
Every organization has its own criteria as to whom they can help and how. Some work only with local pre-approved vets, others may only foot the bill for certain conditions or only when the prognosis is positive. We've compiled a list of such funds and organizations, many of which serve specific areas in the US. You'll have to visit each website to see what their current criteria are and whether or not your case is a good match. TheCatSite.com is not associated with any of these organizations and cannot be held responsible for any of the information provided herein.
Quick Links: US National Organizations - US Local Organizations By State - UK Organizations
These links do not include organizations which provide help with spaying/neutering, vaccinations and wellness check-ups only.
Funds That Can Help You Pay For Vet Bills: US National Organizations
Paws 4 A Cure
The Pet Fund
Brown Dog Foundation
The Big Hearts Fund -
The Dog and Cat Cancer Fund
The Riedel and Cody Fund
KOBI fund (for cats with vaccine-associated feline sarcoma)
Princess Chunk Foundation (currently covers New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California).
Funds That Can Help You Pay For Vet Bills: US Local Organizations
Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA - Phoenix
The Acme Foundation - Lake County
Actors and Others for Animals - Greater LA
Animal Assistance League of Orange County - Orange County
Animal Health Foundation - Monterey County
The Chester Foundation - San Diego County
Placer SPACA - Placer County
PAWS San Francisco - San Francisco
Pet Orphans of Southern California - Van Nuys
Sammie's Friends - Nevada County
San Francisco SPCA Animal Hospita -San Francisco
Voice for the Animals Foundation - Santa Monica
The Cartwright Foundation - The greater Denver/Front Range
Colorado State University Pets Forever Program - Larimer County
Denkai Animal Sanctuary - Greely area
For Pets’ Sake - Cortez
League for Animals and People of the Summit (LAPS) - Frisco & neighboring towns
STARelief and Pet Assistance
Save The Animals Now (STAN)
First Coast No More Homeless Pets - Jacksonville
St. Francis Animal Hospital - Jacksonville
You Can Make a Difference - Gadsen county
The Animal Welfare League - Chicago Ridge
The Monroe County Humane Association
Great Plains SPCA
Humane Society of Greater Kansas City
Shakespeare Animal Fund - Reno area
Animal Protection League of New Jersey
Animal Humane Association of New Mexico - Albuquerque
All4PetsWNY - Western New York State
NY SAVE - New York City
The Shamrock Animal Fund - Central NY
Circle of Friends Humane Society - Grand Forks
The Bummer Fund
Jake Brady Memorial Fund
Pets In Need - Greater Cincinnati
DoveLewis Velvet Assistance Fund - Portland
Animal Care & Assistance Fund - Pittsburgh
The Animal Rescue of Western Pennsylvania - Pittsburgh
Sam's Hope - Southeastern Pennsylvania
Washington Area Humane Society - DC area
RIVMA Companion Animal Foundation
Animal Trustees of Austin - Austin area
Pet Samaritan Fund - Salt Lake City area
Fetch A Cure
Animal Welfare League of Arlington - Arlington
Helping Hands - Richmond
Concern for Animals
PAWS of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap
Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine Good Samaritan Fund
Funds That Can Help You Pay For Vet Bills: UK
RSPCA Low-cost clinics across the country
Blue Cross For Pets - Low-cost clinics across the country
Have we missed any? Do you know of another organization that helps owners deal with the burden of hefty vet bills? Please tell us about it in the comments section below.
Do not leave requests for help here. If you wish to get support and advice (not medical advice) from our members, please post about your situation in the Cat Health forum only. Do not post requests for financial help there as they are against the forum rules and will be deleted by the moderators.[/float]