Owning a cat is one of the best things that can happen to you and your family. Cats are not just adorable; they also provide many benefits for people, such as reducing stress levels, improving mental health, and decreasing allergies. But owning a feline fur baby does come with some costs. Whether it be food or vet bills, there will always be expenses associated with taking care of your furry friend.
Pet ownership is a lifelong responsibility, so it's always best to plan and prepare for the expected and unexpected when it comes to your kitty. Your pet's health means everything to you, so make sure you know what you are looking at when it comes to common veterinary costs. This article will go over 5 common cat vet costs for pet parents so that you know what to expect when it comes time to visit the vet.
Why do cat veterinary costs differ in some places?
Feline care costs can vary by person and location. If you live in a small town and the vet is at least 20 minutes away, you may find that your local vet charges higher prices more because they are competing with fewer vets. If you live in an area with many veterinarian options, they may offer lower prices since they face more competition. It’s not unheard of for vet prices to fluctuate depending on supply and demand. Most pet owners stay local, however, they may need to shop around for veterinarians who specialize in particular procedures.
Pet owners should consider costs when deciding to get a kitty, especially if other pets or children at home would be exposed to an animal that may have fleas or parasites. Let's look at the 5 most common cat veterinary costs that kitty parents can expect.
One of the most common ways that cats get medical attention from their veterinarians is by getting vaccinations annually. Vaccines help protect against diseases like rabies but can range in price depending on the type of vaccine. Some vet visits will cost more than others, too, such as a visit to an emergency vet or going in for a general check-up. Pet parents can expect to pay up to $80 on core vaccinations for kittens during their first year. Yearly vaccinations for adult felines may cost $50 or more, depending on what vaccinations are necessary.
Hairballs and stomach issues
There are many different types of stomach problems that cats can have, but vomiting or regurgitation is one of the most common. This condition occurs when a kitty throws up food and liquid that they’ve eaten to avoid illness. Cats will often vomit after eating something they shouldn’t have or if their diet has changed without warning. They may also vomit due to hairballs in their stomachs, which happens when hair accumulates in the digestive tract instead of being whisked away by grooming.
Hairballs form over time as more and more hair goes down into the cat's intestine and gets stuck on each other, slowing digestion until it becomes a hairball. They may also form because your fluffy feline may have allergies or an underlying illness like diabetes, or if they’re not getting enough water in their diet. The most common symptoms of hairballs are vomiting or regurgitation since kitties try to get rid of the ball of hair.
Treatment for hairballs may include diet changes such as giving your pet food with a low-level of protein, increasing water intake, or even giving them pumpkin puree, which naturally soothes their stomachs. Cat parents can purchase specialized diets directly from their veterinarian or through an associated pharmacy.
On average, vet visits that include treatment for a hairball cost anywhere between $50 -$150. For emergency surgery to remove a hairball blockage, the price can climb to over $400, not including bloodwork, radiography, and extended supportive care. With a pet insurance policy on your kitty, many of the costs associated with stomach conditions will be covered, saving you money in the long run.
Spay or neuter
Spaying or neutering is a surgery performed by veterinarians in which the reproductive organs of cats are surgically removed or altered so they cannot produce offspring. It typically refers to female animals being sterilized (spayed), but males can be neutered as well.
People choose to have their pets spayed or neutered for many reasons. Some kitties have medical conditions that make pregnancy more dangerous for the animal. Other people want to avoid spraying and yowling when mating season starts. Young animals may be spayed or neutered by veterinarians right after they are weaned, so they will not breed, especially at such a young age.
The typical price for a spaying or neutering procedure is between $200 - $500, although some local veterinarians and rescues offer lower cost surgeries to low income families or the general public.
Cleaning your cat's teeth is an essential part of their health. However, professional teeth cleaning can be expensive for the owner, depending on their location and vet. If they live in a small town with few vet options, they may pay more to have this service done yearly or bi-yearly than if they lived in an area with many veterinary choices. A typical cleaning session, which includes tooth brushing and gum disease treatment (which may also need antibiotic treatments), will run from $800-$1600. If extraction procedures are required, each tooth may cost up to a thousand dollars to extract from the animal's mouth.
Periodontal disease affects 80-85% of all cats over the age of two, so most kitty parents will tackle this issue or some other feline dental condition at some point in the future. Extraction procedures involve x-rays, hospitalization, pain medication, and general anesthesia, and the vet bills range between $300 - $1300. Nearly 70% of cats will experience some type of dental disease by age three, and left untreated, oral disease will become extremely painful for your cat and potentially lead to kidney, liver, or heart disease.
The costs for dental care and surgery add up quickly. A pet insurance policy that you purchase before your cat develops dental issues will help cover a significant portion of your vet bills, making this particular procedure easier to afford.
Urinary tract infections (UTI)
A urinary tract infection is an inflammation of a part or all of the excretory system, including the kidneys, ureters, and bladder. Felines are at risk of developing these infections because they have a shorter urethra than humans do, making them more susceptible to bacteria that enter their bodies through their feces.
A UTI can lead to many different symptoms such as blood in urine, urinating outside of the litter box, painful abdomen, and lethargy. These symptoms may vary depending on how bad the infection is. Treatment will depend on the type of UTI but usually involves antibiotics given either orally or intravenously (IV).
A vet visit for a UTI costs about $50-$100 on average, but some vets may charge more depending on what they do during the visit. Surgery and hospitalization costs will be upwards of $1000.
After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of the most common vet visit cost for cats. We hope that knowing these expenses in advance will help make them more manageable both financially and emotionally for cat owners. Your kitty is part of your family, and you want to make sure that she is healthy and happy throughout the course of the pet's lifetime; that's what pet care is all about. Planning ahead for vet costs, emergency vet visits, and even a wellness exam or routine care can save money and help you prolong your pet's life. Your feline companion does so much for you that she is surely worth the time and effort!
The next time your veterinarian recommends an expensive treatment to manage your cat’s UTI or hairballs, be sure to ask how much it is first so you can plan accordingly. Remember, pet health insurance can cover much of your cat's veterinary care with a policy that includes wellness coverage. Learn more about purchasing pet insurance and get your cat's free quote today.
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- Cornell Feline Health Center. (2016). A Hairy Dilemma. Retrieved from https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/hairy-dilemma
- Brown, J. (2021). How Much Does It Cost To Spay A Cat? Retrieved from https://allaboutcats.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-spay-a-cat
- Kelley, T. (2021). What to Know About Cat Dental Exams at Home & With Your Vet. Retrieved from https://www.dailypaws.com/cats-kittens/cat-grooming/cat-teeth-cleaning#:~:text=If%20you're%20wondering%20how,rays%2C%20anesthesia%2C%20and%20cleaning.
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- Small Door Veterinary. (2021). Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Cats. Retrieved from https://www.smalldoorvet.com/learning-center/medical/uti-in-cats