How to have money for your cat’s vet care
You've got no money, and your cat needs to see the vet. “No money need vet” is an all too common situation. At least once a week, I see posts in cat Facebook groups like the examples below. A cat needs help, but the human can't afford it.
- My cat has fleas, but I can't afford to take him to the vet.
- The cat has a tapeworm or other worms. What are natural treatments as I have no money for the vet?
- The cat stopped using the litter box. We don't have money for a vet visit to rule out a medical problem.
- The cat's eyes are crusty or have goop in the corners. How can we help the cat without a visit to the vet?
- This feral cat needs TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return), but I can't afford it.
These issues are not expensive emergencies or significant health problems.
Is your cat suffering because you are broke or have poor money management skills?
Occasionally, I get asked:
- Who's paying for that when helping with TNR? (Usually, the person feeding the cats pays - but I pay when the feeder is unknown, or the cats are in my yard)
- How can you afford to feed so many cats prescription cat food?
- How are you able to help pay for a cat that you don't own?
My money and cats story
Let's go back to 2009. We had only two cats then - Lina and Kilala, who we adopted in 2003. My husband and I had a small amount in savings, but most months we were spending all of the money we earned and more.
We took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University program and started on the seven baby steps (currently we are on step 6). We canceled the credit cards, paid them off, and started saving money. We were to set money aside for vet visits.
Fast forward to 2011. We adopted a starving stray cat from the yard that January. Several months later, Buster cut his leg open on something in the basement (we didn't figure out how he cut himself). It's on a Saturday night and requires a trip to the emergency vet in a city 1 hour away for stitches. While inconvenient, we were able to use our savings to pay $700 for the ER vet and then follow-up visits at our local vet.
In the summer of 2011, we had a flea infestation when I brought home fleas from a house I was cleaning that had fleas. It sucked. But we were able to afford flea medicine from the vet. With the treatment and vacuuming a lot, the fleas were gone in about two weeks.
In 2014, I took a course to learn about making money online. Now, five years later, income from the blog I started in 2014 (not this site) covers all of our cat expenses and allows us to make donations to cat rescues. We've had the extra money to set up a shed for the outdoor cats, cover Kilala's thyroid medication for over three years, neighborhood TNR projects, emergency surgery for feral cat Chloe, and to cover food and vet expenses for our eight indoor cats and three outdoor cats.
In the spring of 2018, Fluffy the feral cat that needed a tooth removed, which was discovered by the clinic during his neuter surgery. He was also full of tapeworms! He didn't have an owner. He visited my yard occasionally for years. He deserved proper care, so we paid the regular vet to remove the tooth and got medicine to treat the tapeworms.
What can you do to have money for the vet?
Disclaimer: I am not a financial adviser and can't guarantee what I've done, or my suggestions will work for you. The point of this post is to encourage you to learn more about money and finances so that you have cash when your cat needs care.
I have two suggestions. Doing one will help, doing both will increase the chances that you will have the money to cover your cat's expenses.
- Start a side hustle. My side hustle is blogging; however, blogging isn't a quick way to make extra money. There are many choices for side hustles that do not cost much to get started. I recommend listening to the Side Hustle School Podcast for inspiration. It's free! It's a short daily podcast with the story of someone's side hustle making at least $500 a month. If you prefer reading, the 100 Side Hustles book is excellent too!
- Manage your finances and learn more about money. There are different approaches to money including:
- Dave Ramsey - have a budget and do the debt snowball and spend less than you make
- Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You to Be Rich - make more so you can spend more. I learned about automating savings from his book (the book is targeted toward young adults, but I still found it helpful
- Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) - save all you can and be frugal. Mr. Money Mustache was my introduction to the FIRE movement.
You can do some research to see what will work for you and whose advice you connect with. Read books to get different perspectives.
My point is to DO SOMETHING to improve your financial situation so you are never the person on Facebook that can't afford a trip to the vet!
But it's an emergency and I have no money for the vet
What can you do right now to get the money to get your cat the care it needs?
- Ask your friends and family for help. You may have a cat lady or guy in your life that will help you out, especially if the support isn't a repeated pattern.
- Sell something quickly. It's unlikely that you are a minimalist with only a cat and only a few household items (if you are, you probably have $100 for the vet and treatment). Many people buy stuff and resell it at higher prices for their side hustle.
- CareCredit or other credit cards. I don't like debt and don't recommend credit cards, but using credit may help your cat while you get your finances in order.
- Vet payment plan. Some vets do not do payment plans. I suspect this is due to people getting help for their pet and then not making payments. This may be dependent on your relationship with your vet.
- Local groups.Check for organizations in your area that can help with expenses or offers services at lower rates
- Crowdfunding. Sites like Go Fund Me can be used to raise money for your cat's care. You'll need to tell a good story to get donations.
It's not your cat's fault that you don't have money to pay for its care. If you are consistently short on cash, consider starting a side hustle, learning more about money, getting a higher paying job, and making changes that will lead to you being able to afford the vet.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” - Henry Ford