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My Cat is Sick and I Can’t Afford a Vet – Help!

Someone just wrote in to say that their cat was sick and they can’t afford a vet. What can you do in this situation?

In the United States the Humane Society provide various useful resources to assist. Click on this link Humane Society Trouble Affording a Vet. If there is not anybody near you, contact whoever is the closest and ask them if they know anybody in your area. This link also gives a list of names of organisations that may be able to help fund treatment. You may need to work through this list to find one that will help in your specific case.

Some charities give help for cats with specific medical conditions. For instance, Cats in Crises has a number of different grants to help with kidney, thyroid, cardiac diseases as well as some neurological conditions. You have to apply for a grant in each case.

My cat is sick and I can't afford a vet

The Humane Society also suggest that some vets may be willing to consider a payment plan but point out that it is often necessary to be proactive in suggesting this. This will probably work best with vets who you have built up a relationship in the past — on the other hand it is certainly worth contacting veterinarians in your local area and explaining your problem. An excellent route could also be to contact a veterinary school who often have clinics attached to the teaching facilities that may not charge. Click on list of veterinary schools for a list, or go to the Human Society link for additional resources.

In the UK there is a charitable  organisation called the Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA). There are strict eligibility requirements for access to their vet care service. To quote their site:

PDSA Vet Care services are available to pet owners who receive either Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit, and live within a defined catchment area around each PDSA PetAid hospital or practice.

Another option is to contact the Blue Cross who have four animal hospitals and treat around 30,000 pets each year when owners cannot afford private veterinary fees.

In Canada the only information I can find comes from the Canadian Veterinary Journal. Apparently there is a scheme run by a charity subsidising some veterinary costs for those unable to pay in Ontario. In the rest of Canada the article goes on to say:

The American Animal Hospital Association’s Helping Pets Fund, through AAHA accredited practices, and Angels4Animals, on a case-by-case basis. Both The Farley Foundation and the AAHA Helping Pets Fund limit the annual amount payable to each clinic and each pet and household.

Where-ever you are in the world, being unable to afford veterinary bills when you have a sick cat is an uncomfortable situation. With some persistence there can often be a positive outcome for you and your cat though. It emphasises that those of us that can, in these difficult times, take out pet insurance should do so. If any readers can help let me know of any other resources that I can add to this article please let me know.


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  1. Does this work in Canada, can you help with that?

  2. Why do people get animals and then say they cannot afford to take care of them when they get sick? Please do not get an anima and then plead poverty.

    • I agree. However, it is possible that their financial situation has changed. Or, maybe this is a cat they rescued from the street and were afraid to take to the animal shelter, giving it a chance rather than being euthanized. It’s nice to know there are some options if you look.

    • There are many people that help feral or stray cats or have had their financial circumstances change. I would much rather people apply for assistance than turning the cats and dogs to a shelter that will probably “euthanize” them. And of course people should not get animals that they can’t afford to take care of, but there are extenuating circumstances. Just sayin:)

      • That’s exactly why I have my cat… We found her on the street and decided that any shelter we could provide was better than just leaving her on the street, drinking water from a puddle!

        She has a warm bed, good food, fresh water, and a clean litter.. However, I can’t afford to take her to the vet at the drop of the hat.

        She’s always been a little on the sickly side, and right now she has the cat flu. I’m nursing her the best I can and I hope she pulls through.

        Thanks for sharing these links! I will be sure to look into these options if she takes a turn for the worse.

    • I adopted a lovely little tortie girl from a shelter. The shelter gave her a clean bill of health and even paid for a routine medical checkup. About six months later, Kitty stopped eating. Back to the vet we went. The vet said that all of Kitty’s teeth need to come out, at a cost of $2,000. When I adopted my cat, I was told she was perfectly healthy and had no problems. The rescue organization won’t help with this $2,000 vet bill, and the vet won’t accept a payment plan. So now I have a cat who can barely eat, who is in pain, and I don’t have $2,000 to pay for her to get her teeth removed. I can afford routine medical expenses — checkups, vaccinations, etc. — but I do not have $2,000 for the cat to get all her teeth removed.

      • James Lautner, Senior Cats Editor

        Rainbow — for the sake of your little girl please try the resources I have described in this article.

    • don’t be an ass walk in their shoes!

    • In this day and age, it is not entirely improbable that people get a pet and then lose their job, or get sick themselves and are on medical leave or end upon social security disability. It is not fair to throw everyone into a boiling pot and say why get a pet then plead poverty. There are exceptions to everything, and I would expect that most people who say they cannot afford a vet are people who also cannot afford medical care for themselves.

    • ummm what happens when you loose you job? its like I attended to not be able to pay for my cats sickness, I treat my cat like kings and its not my choice to not be able to take him to the vet

      • James Lautner, Senior Cats Editor

        That is precisely why I wrote this article Kim. I fully agree that many of us have a problem through no fault of our own. That is absolutely true. The article is an attempt to provide some help, though I realise that it will not be help in every case. Good luck in finding another job.

    • That’s not fair to say. Things happens financially to an owner in a pets lifetime. Maybe when that person first got their pet they were stable but as everyone knows you don’t really know what life is going to throw at you next. I think a lot of people are struggling to make ends meet now that were doing fine five years ago and considering some pets can live up to twenty years its simply not fair to just assume everyone who can’t afford a vet at the moment shouldn’t own that pet. Vets are expensive and maybe its not fair that vets won’t even take the time to see a sick or dying pet unless there’s money upfront

    • I had a cat when I was 5 (given to me as a kitten) that when he became advanced in age (14 years) we could not afford to take him to the vet… Because my dad was unable to work because of his health, which led mom to paying the bills and me picking up odds and ends (groceries, gas) with my part time job.

      I don’t think anyone, when they take on an animal, expects to experience a drastic change in finances later down the road with their pets. After my cat passed away I waited a few years before adopting my tabby. While my financial situation is better than what it was when I had the other cat, I’ve had times where I’ve had to call the vet and ask for estimates because even now there are days where the purse strings are tight. Sometimes I’ve had to delay appointments (thankfully they’ve only been check ups)

      Now if you’re referring to people who CLEARLY can’t afford a pet… Then yeah I agree with your statement.

    • Why do you have empathy for animals, but no empathy whatsoever for your fellow human beings. For the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the working poor, and people whom have NO ONE and are alone day in and day out, their pet is their lifeline.

      I am totally alone where I live. I sometimes go days–especially in winter when my disability makes it hard for me to get out–without seeing or speaking to a single soul.

      I would have committed suicide long ago, if not for my two cats. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my buddies alone in the world, with no one to look after them or love them. They are sometimes the only thing that literally gets me through a crisis and keeps me breathing for another day.

      You people sit there in judgment in your massive ignorance of other people’s reality. You haven’t a clue how awful life is at the poverty level.

      You would have us with NOTHING. We aren’t human beings to people like you. We’re poor so we don’t deserve the unconditional love and companionship a pet gives us?

      But, I can’t afford my diabetic testing supplies and other meds sometimes, and I certainly can’t afford a vet! I can go to a free clinic. My cats can’t.

      You have no idea how truly awful it is, what a real-life, wide awake nightmare it is, to sit and watch your beloved pet, your best friend in the whole world, suffer and perhaps even die. I feel powerless and helpless enough on my fixed income, but it gets worse watching one of my kitties having issues.

      I can’t stand arrogant people like you, whom have all the easy answers in life: They are poor so they shouldn’t have a pet. Yeah, and you are obviously well off, so you shouldn’t be whinging about what other people don’t have.

      • I agree with you. People say they love animals sooooooooo much. Even send people to prison because of a animal. But there isn’t a place any where you can take your pet and get them help. Not even to put them to sleep. What then Where are the reallllllllllllllllll pet lovers? I havn’t found one . I had to watch my pet die . Because there wasn’t a place anywhere I could carry him. I couldn’t afford to have him put to sleep. It hurt, I feel sorry for people like da da . May be one day she will understand. I hope so for her sake. It hurt us more I think because we love our pet. Than A person that can keep their pet at a vet’s. SO SORRY FOR YOU DA DA.

    • First off, things change and some people lose their job, then they are struggling to survive, they didn’t t plan this so stop with your Almighty words to think that you are better than everyone and that this is a planned situation. You think you are better ? Why won t you help out and give or help out a person in need instead of beratting them when they are suffering from money and their animals are sick and in need of care ?

    • your comment have no sense at all, it look smart to say that but it is the most dum to say…so we shouldnt get a cat or a dog if we dont have money for a vet?? are you serious?? people out there are dying because they dont have money for the right medical care and you say that??? you are a moron…sorry, yes i do have 3 cats and a dog that i adopted from a shelter and they are pretty happy…and yes i dont have money for vets as well, i already spend more than 100 bucks a month with them…for me its enough

    • I have something to say about that. I used to rescue abused and or homeless cats. I had a fantastic job as a federal worker for ten years. All of a sudden one day we were all called to a meeting that explained they were shutting their doors forever. Long story short…. I had kept twelve of the cats I rescued. Now I have six left. Two died. One had asthma and died during an attack the other of old age. I am proud to say she was twenty years old. Now that’s not a neglected cat. I did all I could for years. My six babies I have left are all thirteen years old and over. The oldest is eighteen. She seems to be the healthiest. I can’t afford their care anymore and it breaks my heart every day. One is partly paralyzed. The vet said maybe diabetic neuropathy. Insulin isn’t helping. Another has tumors on her skin. I can only pet her head. Another has hyperthyroidism and when I could afford her med she did great. I ran out a week ago and she has rapidly lost a lot of weight. I also have a longhaired beautiful boy that is knotted. I used to get him shaved and or groomed two times a year. So please before you judge someone…hear their story. When I first got them all money wasn’t an option and it wasn’t for years. Life struck me hard…as it has many. I try to give them as much love as I can every day but now am facing eviction from where I am over the seventy dollars I spent on them this month instead of the rest of my rent. I am a mess. Well that’s my story. I don’t cry poverty to anyone. I love my animals more than life itself and well you figure out the rest…

      • God Bless you I feel your pain.
        Some people are just ignorant and have no concept of deciding whether to pay rent or take care of their animals they just think cause they are fortunate to have money all their lives they think it must be your fault for not having money.
        I wish you the Best in Life you are a very kind person.

    • Like others have said long before I got here, circumstances change. I’m here tonight at 3AM because my cat is in pain and there is no way I can afford a vet. He’s 14 1/2 years old, and we were financially flush when we got him, but that was a long time ago. Layoffs and illness have destroyed us financially. We declared bankruptcy last year because of medical bills and literally two months after it was all done, I ended up in the hospital again. Just had surgery last week. I can’t afford that and will undoubtedly be sued for medical bills. How can I possibly get this cat to the vet?

      Like I said, we used to be financially stable, and in the past we spent $2,500 for surgery when he ate a needle and thread, and $2,000 on testing with multiple vets for a never-diagnosed stomach condition that even our local award-winning vet med school couldn’t figure out. We ended up just having to put up with his issues and we managed them well enough with expensive food (all that he could tolerate) and an expensive steam cleaner for the carpet, because he messes a lot.

      So now he’s hissing and limping and obviously in pain, but we don’t know why, and there are no resources. This is a small town with only two vets, neither of which will take payment plans. They want us to sign up for credit cards, which obviously we can’t do. The vet med school not only won’t do free exams, they want $250.00 up front as a deposit, in cash.

      We’ve put so much time and effort and love into owning cats but it’s just too much. There aren’t any resources for me and my medical problems, there sure as hell aren’t any for our cat.

      And then people like you call us unethical and say we’re “just pleading poverty.” You’re the worst. I don’t even know what’s wrong with you.

    • Sometimes situations change like a loved one dies who was helping you to support all your pets and that leaves you with one less income which makes it harder to be able to take your pet to a vet which can run up a $300 bill on just a typical checkup and medication maybe you should watch what you say before knowing someone situation cuz when your animal sick and you’re helpless it’s the worst feeling in the world and you should be supportive

    • Circumstances change. I make half of what I used to make when I got my furbabies. Now I have to live with a roommate, i do not have internet and cable and I have eat the cheapest food just to try and save a 100 dollars a month. So people that fall on hard times should have to give up their pets? Vet care is pricey while someone can likely cover a visit and medicine other costs can be impossible so what do you suggest they do surrender their pets and risk them being put down. Must be nice to have never fallen on hard times..good for all you guys.

  3. thinking One of a Kind pet Clinic in Akron may still be able in certain situations help folks with little money. I believev they will spay neuter pit bull type dogs for free. Check first as things may have changed

  4. I couldn’t afford dental care for my cat, but she has been with her vet since we adopted her as a kitten. He gave me a senior discount and cut the bill more than half, plus gave me a payment plan without applying for credit with an outside company.

  5. It is easy to say don’t get a pet if you can’t afford it – but pets are living a long time now. Don’t you think it is possible that someone’s circumstances might change in the 20 years a cat could live? What about people with kids – should they just not have kids in case they might run into financial problems down the line? Should people just have to have their adored and beloved pets put down because they’ve lost their job and their pet developed a critical illness or suffered some sort of accident?

  6. Its not always that easy. If a homeless or injured animal shows up at your doorstep, you can do what you can for them or let them die or starve to death. Its just the condition of your heart. Doing what you can do is better than doing nothing at all. I’m sick of hearing people say that if you can’t afford them don’t have them. Its not like you have a choice in certain circumstances.

  7. If only rich people had pets there would be a lot of unloved pets out there that would not even had a chance at growing up. So a few pets get great homes and the rest suffer, starve, and are unloved forever.

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