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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:)

    • 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.

  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.

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