Cats have nine lives but in order to make each of these lives last as long as possible your cat will need regular preventative health care and you will need some provision for injury or illness should it occur.

There was a time not that long ago when an ‘old’ cat was 13 or 14 years now it is common place in our clinics to see sprightly athletic cats that are 18, 19 even 20 years old. The reasons for this are two-fold, fantastic homecare and nutrition but also top quality veterinary care. Cats born in the last 10 years have been born into a period of exciting advances in our veterinary knowledge, diagnostics and skills. We can diagnose more subtle problems earlier, which means quicker intervention and better outcomes.

When you undertake cat ownership but let’s face it your never really ‘own’ a cat, they have employed you as their servant, so when you embark on indentured servitude do your maths beforehand. Plan for the unexpected and you won’t get caught short if it the unexpected happens, these are cats after all.

Kittens are adorable but in order for them to grow into healthy cats they need age-appropriate nutrition, continuous and effective flea and worm control, vaccination, microchipping and neutering.

For a London kitten the approximate cost to the servant for this first year of life is in the range of £600-£1000. These costs are not reclaimable from your insurance company as they are not illness or injury-related.

An excellent way to help you budget and manage your finances is to join a health care plan if your veterinary practice runs one. These plans spread the cost of your kittens or cat’s preventative health care over the year, paying monthly by direct debit. These plans allow you to get everything your cat or kitten needs without having to remember and they will often provide significant other in-practice benefits and service discounts. A healthcare plan isn’t a substitute for insurance but if fills the gap where insurance won’t go!

Cats are sentient, living beings that will get sick or injured at some point as they tick off their nine lives, just like we do, the difference being there is no NHS for our friends it is all private, and private health care costs money.

What could it cost?

Condition Diagnosis and initial treatment Ongoing treatment*
Repair of a fractured limb £1500-£3500  
Heart condition £1500 £1000/year
Inflammatory bowel disease £1500-£3500 £1000/year
Chronic kidney disease £1000 £800/year
Acute Kidney Failure< £1500 £800/year
Allergic skin disease £1000 £800/year
Diabetes £650-£1000 £1000/year
Hyperthyroidism £300-£2000 depends
Dentistry £650-1800 £650-£1000/every 3-5 years

* guideline only and will depend on practice location, facilities and service costs.

Teeth problems are the most common disease of adult cats and studies have found signs of dental disease in up to 70% of cats over 5 years of age. This is a problem you are almost certainly going to encounter with your cat at some point despite what you feed. Just like us diagnosis requires general anaesthesia, dental x-rays to determine the appropriate treatment, how will you manage the not insignificant costs associated with this?

How can I budget?

Insurance, insurance, insurance. It is something I can’t emphasise enough to our clients.  We insure our car, house and contents without batting an eyelid and we seldom if ever will claim on these BUT for some reason we as a nation still to tend to baulk at insuring our pets.

Vets don’t recommend insurance so we can do unnecessary procedures or see it as artistic licence to charge our clients more it is quite the opposite, we recommend insurance so when illness or injury strikes, knowing you will have significant treatment options available to you we don’t want you to have to choose between your finances and your cat’s care. It is a truly painful dilemma that we see all too often.  

There are a huge number of policies out there and you will need to do your research for one that suits you and your circumstances but whichever you choose, as a cat owner choose a life-long policy that will cover your cat as they get older for ongoing chronic conditions. Premiums vary depending on where you live and what breed your cat is.

A concept that is common place with dentists that is becoming more popular in veterinary practice is the offering of 0% interest repayment over 12 months to clients who can’t easily find the big sums of money at the beginning of treatment but can afford to spread the treatments over the year. This enables the client who doesn’t have insurance but wants the treatment to be able to do so. It is not a replacement for insurance but a great facility if it is available.

Put money aside each month. This may work if you are disciplined enough to do it regularly and the amount you are squirreling away is a reasonable sum. The major pitfall of this method is if (heaven forbid) something serious happens to your cat when they are only young and these funds are rapidly depleted, the most significant knock on from this if your cat is left with a chronic condition due to this event you are unlikely to make that money up and no insurance company will insure your cat for this condition.

The best advice I can give you is prepare for the worse and expect the best. This will put your wallet in a position of strength and much more importantly your cat’s health and wellbeing will be non-negotiable.