Last Updated: 5 months ago

If you’re wondering, “Is cat insurance worth it?” then you’re in the right place.

Today, we’re going to cover pretty much everything you could want to know about pet health insurance for cats.

Find out how much it costs, what it covers, and whether the benefits outweigh the price. Let’s get started, shall we?

Cat Insurance Explained

Cat Insurance 101: The Ultimate Guide to Pet Protection

The obvious answer is, of course, that it’s health insurance for your cat. However, the obvious answer isn’t always the most accurate.

Cat insurance, also known as pet insurance, is a policy that provides financial coverage for veterinary expenses related to your cat’s health, including accidents, illnesses, and preventive care.

It helps cat owners manage unexpected medical costs and ensures their feline companions receive necessary healthcare.

Cat insurance typically involves monthly premiums and coverage for various medical procedures, medications, and treatments, allowing owners to make informed decisions about their cat’s health without the burden of excessive expenses.

Keep in mind, though, that different companies cover different things depending on which plan you choose.

What cat insurance covers

  • Accidents and acute illnesses (like a kitty cold)
  • Congenital issues (health problems that your kitty was born with)
  • Chronic conditions that begin after enrolling
  • Cancer
  • Surgery
  • Some diagnostic testing
  • Alternative therapy (only a few companies cover this)
  • Prescription medications

What cat insurance doesn’t cover

  • Wellness exams and routine checkups (there are a couple of exceptions)
  • Preexisting conditions. Check out our guide about cat insurance that covers pre-existing conditions.
  • Cosmetic procedures (having a scar removed simply for aesthetic reasons, for example)
  • Breeding or pregnancy
  • DNA testing

Like we said, coverage depends on the company and the plan. Some, for example, have a plan that does cover wellness visits.

Now that we have a general idea of what cat insurance does and doesn’t cover, let’s talk about whether it’s really worth it in the long run.

To determine if cat insurance is worth it, we have to look at a few different factors, including your cat’s breed, general health issues, and, of course, your budget.

Since money is almost always the deciding factor, let’s start there!

Cat Insurance Cost Explained

cat with pet insurance

We wish we could tell you that it will cost exactly X dollars to insure your cat, but it’s not that simple.

The cost of cat insurance can vary widely based on factors such as the cat’s age, breed, location, the chosen coverage, and the insurance company.

Here’s a general estimation of cat insurance costs based on top companies and common coverage options:

Accident-Only Coverage

  • Monthly Cost: $10–$20 on average
  • Annual Cost: $120–$240 on average

This option typically covers injuries resulting from accidents, such as fractures, cuts, and bites. It’s the most budget-friendly choice.

Accident and Illness Coverage

  • Monthly Cost: $20–$40 on average
  • Annual Cost: $240–$480 on average

This option provides coverage for both accidents and common illnesses, offering more comprehensive protection.

Wellness or Preventive Coverage

  • Monthly Cost: $15–$30 on average
  • Annual Cost: $180–$360 on average

Wellness coverage includes routine care such as vaccinations, annual check-ups, and dental cleanings. It’s typically offered as an optional add-on.

Lifetime Coverage (Comprehensive)

Monthly Cost: $30–$70 on average
Annual Cost: $360–$840 on average

Lifetime coverage provides the most extensive protection, covering both accidents and illnesses throughout your cat’s lifetime. It’s the most expensive, but it offers maximum peace of mind.

Recommendation

Keep in mind that these are general estimates, and the actual cost may vary significantly based on your specific circumstances and the insurance provider you choose.

Factors like the cat’s age, breed, and any pre-existing conditions can affect the premium. Additionally, where you live can influence the cost due to regional differences in veterinary care pricing.

To get an accurate estimate for your cat, it’s advisable to request quotes from several reputable cat insurance providers, comparing their coverage options, deductibles, and any exclusions.

This will help you find the best insurance plan that suits your budget and your cat’s needs.

Cats with Preexisting Conditions Insurance

cat suffering from bacteria

Let’s define preexisting conditions vs. congenital issues, as you’ll need to understand the difference.

Pet insurance companies treat preexisting conditions and congenital issues very differently, so let’s discuss what each one is a bit.

Getting pet insurance for a cat with preexisting conditions is not going to be easy in the long run.

What is a Preexisting Condition?

A preexisting condition is exactly what it sounds like: a condition that existed before you enrolled in the health insurance plan.

Here’s the thing: This condition doesn’t even need to be diagnosed. Your cat just has to have symptoms for it to be considered preexisting by most insurers.

So, if you’re thinking, “I just won’t tell them that Kitty has a bad paw; I’ll just enroll her and then take her to the vet,” think again.

  • First, it’s fraud, and fraud is a very, very bad thing.
  • Second, all insurance companies have a wait time before coverage starts, with the lowest being two weeks. You can’t make Kitty go two weeks without care!
  • Third, your vet can tell whether your cat sprained her paw that morning or two weeks ago. She can tell whether Kitty has had a cold for days or hours. She can tell. Period.

What is a Congenital Condition?

A congenital condition is an issue that your cat first acquired before birth. This includes things like heart disease, nerve issues, and more.

For the most part, pet insurance companies will cover these.

They’ll also cover conditions that your cat is prone to based on breed or genetics, as long as your cat doesn’t have them when you enroll.

To put it simply:

  • If your cat was born with a condition or might get one in the future, it’s likely covered.
  • If Kitty develops it after birth but before enrolling, it’s likely not covered.

Where Can You Get Help for Cats with Preexisting Conditions?

It’s heartbreaking, isn’t it? In the human world, if you’re sick, the ER can’t turn you away, even if you can’t afford to pay.

Sure, you’ll rack up medical bills that will have to be dealt with at some point, but at least you know you always have some sort of option to save your life.

Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for pets. If you can’t pay, vets can (and most will) refuse to see your cat.

So, what can you do if you’re broke and pet insurance won’t cover an issue? Here is what you can try:

1. Shop Around and Explain Your Situation

First things first, talk to different vets not only to find the best price but also to explain your situation and see if they’re willing to help.

Our cat Willow has pica (she eats nonedible things, like plastic). Years ago, before we knew about her condition, she managed to swallow the plastic ring around the cap of a milk jug.

Needless to say, she got very backed up from it and needed a major poop extraction!

The problem? We were seriously struggling and could barely afford rent, let alone a $400 vet bill!

We called around and explained the situation to numerous vets before finally finding one that was willing to take what we could afford ($80).

So, as you can see, it really does pay to “shop” around for a vet with compassion.

2. See if Your Local Animal Shelter Has a Clinic

Many local animal shelters either have their own in-house clinic that’s open to the public or a clinic that isn’t public but will still take patients.

Our local shelter opened a clinic about three years ago, and their prices are significantly lower than the other vets in the area. For example:

  • An exam fee costs $38, versus $65 just to walk in the door at our previous vet’s office.
  • Neutering your cat costs around $75, versus about $200 at the vet down the street.
  • Euthanasia (for our 14-year-old German Shepherd, who was suffering) was $75 versus $250.

Even if your local shelter doesn’t have a clinic, they definitely have a vet that they work with on a discounted basis and may be able to help you out.

3. Contact a Non-Profit Organization

Your next option is to contact a non-profit that helps low-income or financially strapped families pay for vet bills. A few options include:

  • Paws for a Cure
  • The Pet Fund
  • RedRover

In all cases, you do need to apply and meet their requirements. Most only cover non-basic and non-emergency issues.

4. Appeal to Other Animal Lovers

Never underestimate the compassion of other animal lovers. If you’re in a bad situation and need help, consider starting a crowdfunding campaign.

Not sure where to start? GoFundMe is a popular choice. You can also try these:

  • Give Forward
  • PlumFund
  • Waggle

5. Apply for Care Credit or Something Similar

This should be the “last resort” option for a couple of reasons. First, Care Credit is essentially a credit card, which means you’ll have to pay interest.

Second, it’s hard to get approved if you have bad credit. It’s really a catch-22.

You apply because you can’t afford to pay for emergency treatment, but you get denied because you can’t afford to pay for emergency treatment.

Still, if you have decent credit but just don’t have money at the moment to cover an emergency, it’s worth a try.

It’s really difficult to hear that you can’t get pet insurance for cats with a preexisting condition when you need it most.

Pet Insurance Benefits vs. Cost

cat lying on bed

The next thing we need to do to determine if cat insurance is worth it is to take a look at how the benefits compare to the cost.

Let’s look at the average cost of some of the things that cat insurance covers. Remember, these are average costs and can vary significantly from vet to vet.

  • Yearly Exam: $50 (not covered)
  • Cancer Diagnostic Tests: $500-$800
  • Radiation Treatment: $1K–4K
  • Sprains and bone injuries: $200
  • Emergency Visits: $300+

For emergency visits, you can expect to pay $150+ just to walk through the door and see a doctor.

Now, we’ll be honest here: we’ve had nine cats over a 23-year period, and we’ve never spent more than $500 a year on health issues, and that’s with multiple cats.

Our cat, Willow, does have constipation issues. I’d spent maybe $300 a year on her before we got it under control.

How to determine if cat insurance is worth it

There’s probably some super-economic formula for deciding whether cat insurance is worth it, but it really comes down to two things:

  • How much can you afford to pay each month for insurance?
  • How much can you afford to pay if the worst-case scenario happens?

The problem, of course, is that if you can’t afford $60+ a month for insurance, you definitely can’t swing thousands of dollars for cancer treatments.

So, it comes down to how much risk you’re willing to take. If none of your cats are breeds that are particularly susceptible to cancer, you should take the risk.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats

Another common question that comes up is: Is pet insurance worth it for an indoor cat?

All of the above information is actually based on indoor cats! The better question would be: is it worth it for outdoor cats?

To that end, we have to say yes; it’s actually even more worth it since your outdoor cat is at a significantly higher risk for injury and illness.

Cat Insurance Companies

As pet insurance becomes more popular, new brands pop up all the time.

However, out of all the companies we looked into, these three stand out as the best of the best.

1. Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

We compared a lot of different factors, and Healthy Paws offers the best coverage for the least amount of money per month.

Benefits

  • One of the lowest monthly rates (compared to others)
  • Customizable deductible and reimbursement
  • Reimbursement based on an actual vet bill
  • A handy mobile app that makes it easy to submit claims with just a photo of your receipt
  • No payout limits
  • #1-rated pet insurance plan with a 98% customer satisfaction rating

Drawbacks

  • No coverage for wellness visits
  • No coverage for preventative care
  • Cats age 14 and over can’t get coverage.
  • 15-day waiting period before coverage begins
  • No multiple-cat discount
  • One-time $25 “Admin Fee”

Cost Versus Value

Our rate is based on a $250 annual deductible (they don’t offer a $200 deductible) and a 90% reimbursement plan, but you can customize each of those things.

  • For example, if I want them to pay back 90% and only want to pay $100 a year out of pocket, it goes up to about $25. Still very reasonable!
  • On the other hand, if we’re okay with a $500 deductible and having them pay 70%, it goes down to around $12.

That plan has no per-incident, annual, or lifetime caps.

The downside of the lower fee is that they charge an extra $25 the first month as an “admin” fee. It’s a one-time thing, but it does increase the overall yearly cost for the first year.

So basically, instead of me paying around $235 for the first year, you’d be paying $260.

Reimbursement Process

Here are a couple of ways to get reimbursed:

  • Submit a photo of your receipt through the Healthy Paws app.
  • Fill out a Healthy Paws claim form on their website.
  • Get a pre-authorized payment sent directly to your vet (for very expensive procedures on a case-by-case basis).

One of the few complaints about Healthy Paws is regarding the timeframe to pay out claims. Expect to wait up to 10 business days to get reimbursed.

What does Healthy Paws cover?

Healthy Paws covers a wide range of conditions. You’ll have to look at your plan for an exact list, but for the most part, expect it to cover:

  • Accidents and acute illnesses
  • Congenital issues 
  • Chronic conditions (as long as they’re not preexisting)
  • Cancer
  • Surgery
  • Some diagnostic testing
  • Prescription medications
  • Alternative treatments
  • Hospitalization

What Doesn’t It Cover?

Healthy Plans doesn’t cover wellness visits. That includes vaccinations, flea and tick medications, heartworm testing, and other routine care.

Other exclusions include:

  • Any injury or illness that occurs within the first 15 days of the policy’s start date
  • Pre-existing conditions 
  • Spaying or neutering
  • Parasite control (flea and tick treatment, heartworm medication, or deworming)
  • Grooming, including nail trimming
  • “Elective” procedures, including microchipping
  • Diseases that your cat got because you didn’t vaccinate

Example: If your cat gets rabies or distemper because you skipped the vaccine, they won’t cover it.

While Healthy Paws does not cover routine dental work like teeth cleanings, they do cover accidental injuries to your cat’s teeth, including tooth extractions.

2. Embrace Pet Insurance

Embrace is one of the most popular pet insurance programs for a good reason: they have a very robust and comprehensive plan. Let’s take a closer look.

Benefits

  • Customizable deductible, annual limits, and reimbursement
  • The reimbursement is based on the actual vet bill.
  • Multi-pet discount
  • Short waiting period for accidents
  • Covers behavioral therapy

Drawbacks

  • Cats age 14 and over can’t get coverage, except for accidental injuries.
  • 14-day waiting period for illness
  • Higher premium than Healthy Paws (in my case)

Cost Versus Value

At first glance, you can see that Embrace is significantly higher per month for me than Healthy Paws. Don’t let that scare you off.

While it’s not the cheapest plan, we’ve looked at countless other reviews where it ended up costing a lot less.

You can customize pretty much every aspect, including

  • Copay: 10%, 20%, or 30%
  • Annual payout limits: $2000, $5000, $10,000, or $15,000.
  • Deductible range from $200-1000

To compare with Healthy Paws, my annual fee would be just over $505 for one cat, but they do offer a 10% multiple cat discount.

Reimbursement Process

It turns out there is an Embrace Pet Insurance app. I couldn’t find it at first, but they do have one for both Apple and Android devices.

  • Fill out a claim form in your account on their website or download it from your welcome email.
  • Call and ask for a form to be mailed or faxed to you or your vet.
  • Use the Embrace Pet Insurance app to submit your claim.

While wellness claims usually only take about 5 business days to reimburse, illness and accident claims can take 10–15 days.

What Does Embrace Cover?

A lot, actually. The following isn’t an exhaustive list, but it gives you a good overall idea.

  • Accidents and acute illnesses
  • Congenital issues 
  • Chronic conditions (as long as they’re not preexisting)
  • Cancer
  • Surgery
  • Some diagnostic testing
  • Prescription medications
  • Alternative treatments
  • Hospitalization
  • Wellness visits (as an add-on and for an additional fee)
  • Dental illness (up to $1,000)
  • Behavior therapy
  • Prosthetic devices

What Doesn’t It Cover?

  • Routine dental work
  • Preexisting conditions
  • Routine vet care (without the add-on)
  • Injuries resulting from neglect or abuse
  • Cosmetic procedures
  • Breeding or whelping
  • Nuclear war-related injuries (I’m not even kidding; that’s on their list of exclusions.)

Remember, while Embrace will cover wellness visits, it’s part of an add-on plan, which is why it’s listed in both “will cover” and “won’t cover.”

FYI: Your cat’s last routine checkup must have occurred within the 12 months prior to enrolling; otherwise, coverage doesn’t begin until after that visit.

We recommend going for that annual visit before enrolling.

3. Trupanion Pet Insurance

Trupanion is another company that consistently tops the list of the best pet insurance for cats.

The only reason they’re not #2 on our list is that they had the highest premium.

Benefits

  • 90% reimbursement rate
  • Direct payment to the vet
  • They offer insurance coverage for service animals.
  • Unlimited lifetime coverage, no limits
  • Covers dietary supplements (as recommended by your vet).
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Pet Owner’s Assistance add-on pays for things like cremation, boarding your cat if you have to go into the hospital yourself, and more.

Drawbacks

  • Alternative therapy is not covered unless you pay an additional add-on fee.
  • Higher premiums than other insurance companies that I tested.
  • Longest waiting period (30 days for illness, 5 for accidents)
  • No wellness coverage, not even with an add-on
  • Potentially long wait for reimbursement (see below)
  • One-time $35 “admin” fee

Cost Versus Value

As you can see, the cost per month for us is significantly higher than Healthy Paws and Embrace when we choose the $200 deductible.

FYI, when we put in Zoe’s actual age, it dropped down to about $30+ a month, so you can see that as your cat gets older, the price increases drastically.

You’ll note that there’s an option to customize your price. This really only lets you change the deductible.

However, that’s a moot point because, unlike Embrace, there are no annual or lifetime limits, and all plans offer 90% reimbursement.

To compare with Healthy Paws, the annual fee would be just over $660 a year for one cat.

Reimbursement Process

Claims can be processed in three ways:

  • They pay their portion of the bill directly to the vet (at select veterinary hospitals).
  • Fill out the form online through your account.
  • Download the form, fill it out, and email it back to them.

As far as I can tell, Trupanion doesn’t have an app. Also, for claims that aren’t payable to the vet, it can take up to 60 days to get reimbursed, according to their sample policy.

What does Trupanion Cover?

  • Illnesses and injuries
  • Hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Surgeries
  • Hospital stays
  • Medications and Veterinary Supplements
  • Prosthetic devices
  • Alternative therapy (like herbal therapy)
  • Dental illness (as long as your cat had a dental exam within the last year)

What Doesn’t It Cover?

  • Wellness exams (not even as an add-on)
  • Preexisting conditions
  • Preventative care
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Spaying and neutering
  • Elective procedures like microchipping
  • Grooming, including nail trimming
  • Routine dental care
  • Repetitive injuries (if my cat eats plastic, gets surgery, then eats it again within the next 18 months, for example)

Bottom Line

We can’t tell you yes or no on whether cat insurance is worth it. That’s something only you can decide!

If you have just one pet, it is worth it. However, to cover four pets, it would end up costing more per year than one would actually save.

What are your thoughts? Is cat insurance worth it? Tell us below!

Resources:

Is cat insurance worth it? Read on to find out the average cost and benefits of pet insurance for cats to find out the answer!
Nicole Etolen
Nicole Etolen

Nicole is one of the writers here on CatVills. She’s been a cat lover most of her life and-at one point- counted five felines as part of her family. Today, she’s proud cat mom to two indoor kitties and caregiver for a slew of ferals.