No Money For Vet Care? How To Find Help And Save Your Cat's Life

Oct 26, 2015 · Updated Apr 18, 2017 · ·
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  1. Anne
    Veterinary care for your cat can be very expensive with bills running in the hundreds and sometimes even the thousands of dollars.

    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 - Paws 4 A Cure provides financial assistance to qualified families who cannot afford veterinary care for their furry family members without our help.

    Rose's Fund - Index

    The Pet Fund - Veterinary Care Funding

    Brown Dog Foundation - home

    The Big Hearts Fund - The Big Hearts Fund | Home (for heart conditions)

    The Dog and Cat Cancer Fund - http://www.dccfund.org/ (for pets with cancer)

    The Riedel and Cody Fund - The Riedel & Cody Fund (for pets with cancer)

    KOBI fund - Home (for cats with vaccine-associated feline sarcoma)

    Princess Chunk Foundation - Prince Chunk Foundation, Inc. (currently covers New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California).

    Funds That Can Help You Pay For Vet Bills: US Local Organizations


    Arizona
    Phoenix
    Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA - Phoenix

    California
    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
    Animal Welfare Assistance Group - Greater Sacramento Region
    The Chester Foundation - San Diego County
    FACE Foundation
    Placer SPACA - Placer County
    Mojave Desert Animal Rescue - Western Mojave Desert
    Palo Alto Humane Society - Palo Alto Area
    PAWS San Francisco - San Francisco
    Pet Orphans of Southern California - Van Nuys
    Sammie's Friends - Nevada County
    San Francisco SPCA Animal Hospita -San Francisco
    VET SOS -San Francisco
    Voice for the Animals Foundation - Santa Monica

    Colorado
    Cat Care Society - Lakewood
    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

    Connecticut
    Connecticut Humane Society Fox Veterinary Clinic
    STARelief and Pet Assistance

    Delaware
    Grass Roots Rescue Society

    District of Columbia
    The Washington Animal Rescue League Medical Center

    Florida
    Seniors For Pets
    Save The Animals Now (STAN)
    First Coast No More Homeless Pets - Jacksonville
    St. Francis Animal Hospital - Jacksonville
    You Can Make a Difference - Gadsen county

    Illinois
    The Animal Welfare League - Chicago Ridge

    Indiana
    The Monroe County Humane Association

    Kansas
    Great Plains SPCA
    Humane Society of Greater Kansas City

    Massachusetts
    MSPCA-Angell

    Nevada
    Shakespeare Animal Fund - Reno area

    New Jersey
    Animal Protection League of New Jersey
    Save U.S. Pets Foundation

    New Mexico
    Animal Humane Association of New Mexico - Albuquerque

    New York
    All4PetsWNY - Western New York State
    NY SAVE - New York City
    The Shamrock Animal Fund - Central NY

    North Carolina
    Friends of Madison County Animals - Madison County
    Friends of Mebane's Animals

    North Dakota
    Circle of Friends Humane Society - Grand Forks

    Ohio
    The Bummer Fund
    Jake Brady Memorial Fund
    Pets In Need - Greater Cincinnati

    Oregon
    DoveLewis Velvet Assistance Fund - Portland

    Pennsylvania
    Animal Care & Assistance Fund - Pittsburgh
    The Animal Rescue of Western Pennsylvania - Pittsburgh
    Sam's Hope - Southeastern Pennsylvania
    Washington Area Humane Society - DC area

    Rhode Island
    RIVMA Companion Animal Foundation

    Texas
    Animal Trustees of Austin - Austin area
    The Capper and Chris Save the Animals Fund

    Utah
    Pet Samaritan Fund - Salt Lake City area

    Virginia
    Fetch A Cure
    Animal Welfare League of Arlington - Arlington
    Helping Hands - Richmond
    Saint Seton's Orphaned Animals - Fredricksburg
    Virginia Beach SPCA - Virginia Beach

    Washington
    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


    PDSA - PDSA - Help A Vet Help A Pet

    RSPCA - Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals | RSPCA - rspca.org.uk Low-cost clinics across the country

    Blue Cross For Pets - Veterinary 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]

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  1. Anne
    Thanks for the update @LTS3 - I edited the link in the article.
  2. LTS3
  3. Anne
    Just please be careful with so-called "natural" products. Plants include strong chemicals and many of them can be toxic to cats. They're not necessarily safer, more effective or even cheaper. I see your point about the cost of vet care but I don't think the "natural" products industry offers a good alternative for health care for humans or cats.
  4. lray
    25 yrs ago when I was between jobs & couldn't afford to eat everyday my first kitty adopted me. Fortunately Actors & Others for Animals helped with "fix" for 2 kitties so there wouldn't be more.  Another vet provided some meds to get rid of worms. I really appreciate those people & what they did & do.
    Unfortunately now most vets appear to want you in every other month for some (often unnecessary & expensive) shot, treatment, etc  They are always playing on your love for your pet & trying to upsale. I understand that no one gets into a business wanting to fail & that costs continue to leap by bounds (my 1% raise 15 yrs ago isn't helping me keep up for sure) but there are many less expensive natural products that work as well or better than the expensive (sometimes deadly) ones they push. I can't tell what really is needed so now just skip most all of them except when there is a specific problem. 
    Thanks for the lists & hopefully there will be more clinics that help when income is low. Even some barter programs may help.
  5. meowbrand
    Great resource list. I wasn't aware there were so many organizations. Another option is to see if you vet offers any special discount or wellness programs. The one I take my cats to has a plan where you pay a one time fee which is the equivalent of a rabies shot, and all shots are free for life as long as you get annual exams. 
  6. msserena
    Under the numbered items, the first item says: You will find low-cost clinics listed below, organized by state.
     
    Not true. Even the title states what the info below is about.
    Funds That Can Help You Pay For Vet Bills: US Local Organizations 
    I would have liked to have seen a list of low cost clinics, but I guess I'll have to contact the local Humane Society. Hope someone can edit the article & fix it to make it more accurate.
  7. mrsty
    It is very important for people to understand what they are taking on when they get a new pet. I adopted 4 cats from a rescues, then ended up with 2 more who wandered into my yard. As they all became senior pets I have had to put 2 of them down from serious issues that were just too expensive considering the others needs also. Thank goodness I had stopped at 6! When it comes to cats people tend to think they need nothing but food, but that is not the case. Everyone's situation is different and does change but everyone needs to understand that pets are expensive. I get really upset reading about how sick people's pets are and they won't take them to the vet. This article is wonderful for explaining how to plan from the beginning and be prepared for what is eventually going to happen to every single pet. Great references and hopefully they are legit.
  8. Anne
    I couldn't find any while researching for this article. If there are, do post them here and I'll edit them in.
  9. katscradle
    why arent there any organizations to help pet owners in michigan?
  10. tarasgirl06
    @Donutte, excellent! Wishing you success.
  11. donutte
    I'm a firm believer in the barter system. Impossible to use in so many situations (since big corporations would never allow for it). But, veterinarian practices have not completely gone the way of human medical practices.

    And my vet is right next door. I'll use that as a selling point too.
  12. tarasgirl06
    Those are excellent ideas, @donutte; barter has always been an honorable way to exchange goods and services globally and historically, and it wouldn't hurt for your ideas to be put into good use!
  13. donutte
    One other thing I read that I may look into myself is offering a trade of service to help offset the costs of the vet bills. For instance, offering to help clean or take calls at the vet's office. I guess that could be similar to a payment plan, but just a different way to go about it.
  14. tarasgirl06
    With MUCH gratitude for this -- every precious life it helps to save is without price, and this gives such hope to those, and I am sure they are many, who desperately seek somewhere to turn to help their beloved family members.
  15. catwoman=^..^=
    Thank you soooooo much for this very helpful list of organizations.  I'm on Disability and need resources that would help me with routine care as well.  Am looking forward to your next article on that!  Thank you! :)
  16. Anne
    No problem. I probably should clarify in the article that this list does not cover spay & neuter, vaccinations and routine check-ups. There are many organizations and charities that can help with those and we will run an article about them as well. 
  17. sparkymema
  18. sparkymema