One sad fact about adopting a pet is that you will likely outlive your beloved animal and that means you will have to pay for their healthcare in their dying days.  When our cat Jack died, 99% of the money we spent for his well-being was used over the last 90 days of his life in an attempt to battle his kidney disease and failing heart and to then provide him the kindest possible end.

A chest-only ultrasound for a cat is $400.00USD  The abdomen is a separate cost of $400.00USD.  If you do both abdomen and chest together, you get a break at $750.00USD.  It may sound silly to spend that kind of money on a pet, but if you want to know what’s going on inside your animal, and if there’s any hope for survival, the only way to know for sure is to pay for an ultrasound.

We looked into getting Pet Health Insurance for Jack when his health started to decline, but we were tempered by our awful experience with human health insurance companies and how they prevaricate and waddle their way away from providing proper coverage based on “pre-existing conditions” and other conditional outs.  We could only imagine the games these companies play with a sick cat on facing its inevitable deathbed.

We also sadly found out that Jack was too old for pet insurance.  The cutoff was 10 years of age and Jack was 15 when he began to get really sick super fast — so, in a way, we were saved from having to try to convince a pet insurance company that our boy was “worth the money” for the saving.

We dipped into our savings for Jack’s final days care, and if we’d been paying a monthly pet insurance fee of $50 over his lifetime, we would’ve overpaid for his total healthcare by $3,000.00USD.  I don’t know what would’ve happened with the pet insurance over the last five years of his life when he would’ve been out of coverage.  If we had been unable to continue his insurance past the age of 10 years old, then we would’ve spent $6,000.00USD on pet insurance we never needed.

I think the best thing for you to do when you bring an animal into your life is to forget pet insurance and start a “healthcare fund” for your pet instead that will go untouched until the medical need arises.  Take that $50 a month you’d pay a pet insurance company and put it into a savings account for your pet.

In a decade, you’ll have a good sum of money that is there, and secure, and ready to help you fight for the final stages of your animal’s life — and if there aren’t medical costs associated with your pet’s passing — then you have a nice healthcare nest egg right there waiting for the next pet you hug into your heart.

7 Comments

  1. David,

    Great advice. Of course, some people say that you should do the same for health care — putting aside money every month instead of paying an insurance — but some human health care treatments will wipe out those savings and put you deep into debt within a few months!

    1. Gordon —

      Yes, human medical expenses can quickly blow up in your face, and most serious conditions require follow up and oftentimes, secondary surgeries. It’s always better to have medical coverage. I do know a lot of people who decline dental coverage, though. That’s fascinating to me.

  2. This is a difficult situation. In the past I have had a dog and a cat suffer injuries that appeared to me to be insurmountable and the veterinarians tried to ‘sell’ treatment that would prolong life for maybe a month. I had to take my cat to a different vet to have him euthanased. Vets have a responsibility to be ethical in their assessment of quality of life for animals over and above ‘treatment’. I have two very old dogs, well past their life span and have decided that when they become irredeemably ill I will not allow them to suffer intervention that cannot possibly give them longer on this earth. The cost of veterinarian treatment seems exhorbitant. This week I will pay $75 for a booster shot for my cat that the nurse could administer. I totally agree that the sensible option is the pet bank account, especially as they, like we seem to be living longer.

    1. Yes, the key is having the right veterinarian, Kathe. In the USA, people who regularly go to the pet doctor tend to cling too long when the end is nigh. We were probably that way a bit. We wanted to explore every possibility for saving him — and the veterinarians we saw were always kind and informative and supportive and they actually watched our money and counseled us on what could be done and what should be done.

      We never felt they were trying to take our money; we felt they were genuinely trying to do the best thing for our cat without prolonging his suffering. Our veterinarians probably knew the end was near long before we did, but each of them let us come to that realization on our own by just giving us the straight facts and some human compassion.

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