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.
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.