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Do I Need Pet Insurance for My Indoor Cat?

It’s a common misconception that indoor cats don’t need pet insurance, but some of their most common health issues have little to do with whether they roam outdoors. Afflictions like diabetes, kidney disease, and urinary tract issues are unfortunately common in all felines — not just outdoor cats. Sadly, about 1 in 5 cats will also be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Let’s break down the benefits of pet insurance for indoor cats and what considerations cat owners should make.

Why do indoor cats need pet insurance?

It’s a typical cat owner question — is pet insurance necessary for indoor cats? This stems from the belief that indoor cats are more protected than those allowed to roam outside. There is some truth that indoor cats face fewer health risks than outdoor cats, particularly when it comes to injury or infectious disease. Outdoor cats risk being exposed to viruses and parasites, ingesting toxins, or becoming injured due to encounters with other animals or traffic. But this doesn’t mean indoor cats are without health risks and costly medical bills.

While your indoor cat may have a lower risk of contracting calicivirus or picking up parasites, many diseases don’t stop at the door. Our homebound feline friends can have common health problems like kidney disease or urinary issues. They can also injure themselves, falling off counters or furniture in your home. And, as careful as we may be, sometimes our indoor cats find ways to escape outside.

Indoor cats can face their own unique set of health risks. They may be more likely to become obese due to a lack of activity or let their curiosity lead them to ingest household objects like carpet fibers, hair ties, or string. And, let's not forget about kittens that can be very accident-prone, ending up with injuries from falls or chewing on wires. Overall, when it comes to the benefits of cat insurance for an indoor cat, there are plenty. Insuring your indoor cat can be just as important as insuring your outdoor cat.

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Common feline health conditions

Regardless of where they spend their days, cats can develop many health conditions. Some of the most common feline health conditions include:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Urinary problems
  • Respiratory infections
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Allergies
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Ear infections
  • Dental disease
  • Feline asthma
  • Hairballs

If not vaccinated, cats can also be susceptible to contracting a number of viruses such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), rabies, and others.

Veterinary costs for cats

All cats need veterinary care throughout their lifetime. This includes preventative care like wellness check-ups, vaccines, parasite screenings, and medical care when unexpected health problems arise.

The yearly cost for routine veterinary care for cats can range from $250 to $500. This can be more or less depending on the type of clinic and whether your cat needs any advanced health screenings or dental cleanings. As cats age, their risk of developing a chronic illness or dental disease rises, leading to more veterinary care.

Emergency or specialty care can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Cats with kidney disease or diabetes, two prevalent feline conditions, may require frequent trips to a specialist, advanced diagnostics, and costly medications to manage. Urethral obstructions, a blockage of the urinary tract that prevents urination, commonly occur in male cats and require emergency lifesaving treatment that can easily cost upwards of $3,000. With pet insurance, you could see significant savings on these costs.

How much is pet insurance for cats?

While cat insurance cost and coverage can vary based on several factors, average plans for cats tend to range from $25 to $50 per month. You can also find less expensive coverage through certain providers. Lemonade boasts some of the most affordable cat insurance plans on the market with premiums starting as low as $10 a month.

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Choosing a pet insurance plan for your cat

There are many options available when choosing pet insurance for cats, but in general, you’ll be picking from one of three plan types:

  • Accident-only. Covers accidental injuries such as broken bones, falls, hit-by-car accidents, wounds, eye injuries, swallowed foreign objects, toxin ingestions, and more.
  • Accident and illness. Covers accidental injuries plus illnesses such as diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disease, respiratory infections, urethral obstructions, arthritis, cancer, and more.
  • Wellness. Covers preventative care such as wellness exams, vaccines, parasite prevention, health screenings, dental cleanings, and more. Wellness plans are typically only offered as an add-on to accident and illness plans.

Overall, the best pet insurance for your cat will be based on the available plans (options can vary by state), what fits your cat's needs, and what fits your budget. As a general guideline, accident and illness plans are considered the best among cat health insurance coverage options. They cover a wide range of medical conditions and can save pet owners the most money over their lifetime.

If it fits your budget, adding a wellness plan can also be an excellent option for cat owners. Wellness care is essential when caring for indoor cats. Wellness exams and screenings can catch potential health problems early when they are typically more treatable.

Tips for getting the most out of pet insurance for your cat

Pet insurance can be one of the best ways to save money on your cat’s veterinary care. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your plan.

Enroll early

The best time to get insurance for your pet is before they need it. Once your cat has an illness or injury, it might not be covered under a future plan due to pre-existing condition exclusions. Pet insurance premiums also become more expensive as your cat ages. Enrolling your cat early, preferably when they are still kittens, will help ensure they get the most coverage for the lowest price.

Shop around

There are more pet insurance options on the market than ever before. Many of these are customizable — letting you choose your deductible, reimbursement rate, and annual limits to tailor your plan to your budget. Take some time to shop around and get customized quotes so you can compare plans and pick the one that fits your needs best.

Consider the extras

Many pet insurance providers offer add-ons like wellness plans or extra coverage packages for prescription food and alternative treatments. Opting for a wellness plan can help keep you on track with preventative care and save money. Coverage for prescription food can be a valuable add-on if you have a cat at risk for kidney or urinary problems. Prescription diets are commonly used to help manage these conditions. Talk to your vet about your cat’s health risks and consider what add-ons, if any, would be beneficial.

Final thoughts

Indoor kittens and cats face health and wellness risks just as outdoor cats. It could be something like a flea or tick infestation if a family member carries them inside on their clothing or something serious like a urinary blockage. When weighing pet insurance options, consider a plan that's affordable and meets your and your pet's needs.

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