Sick kitty, low on cash.
January 26, 2013 1:14 PM   Subscribe

My cat is sick. I have next to no money. Is there a really-truly-worth it pet insurance company you recommend? Or is there a place I can apply for financial assistance?

These are the details:

My cat, Greta, which is also this Greta, is a 10 year old female DSH, spayed, indoor-only cat. She's been showing bad symptoms and I have been taking her to a vet I'm really happy with (I have seen other, [only-slightly] cheaper vets in the city that I have not been as happy with. We have been putting her through some tests to figure out what's wrong with her. Best-case-scenario: She has a kidney disease I will have to treat her for for the rest of her life. Worst-case-scenario: Cancer.

I've already spent $600 on tests and visits alone over the past two weeks, and we haven't yet figured out what the deal is, but either way, I know I will be spending more money in the coming weeks to figure it out. I spoke with the vet about costs and my options. While they don't offer a payment plan, they offer essentially a line of credit that I could use to pay for the visits. I researched the line of credit, which would only offer so much, at a 27% apr. I looked into my existing credit and I can extend my current credit line the same amount as the vet-credit offered, at my existing 14% apr. So I have extended my credit the allowed amount. This is still not much (I know because I've spent as much for less serious but still critical care in the past) and will likely not cover the worst-case-scenarios. I am already struggling to pay my own bills as it is, though obviously I am working on that. I have nothing of any value to sell that isn't of vital importance.

My cat is not in any pain, and is otherwise healthy enough. My vet said that whatever it is, it has been caught early (according to the rate at which blood indicators show) so I have no plans to put her down in the event of worst-case-scenario, and fully plan on giving her treatments for whatever until things tip the scale to where she is in pain.

So I'm seeking a few options:

#1) I have heard of organizations or groups that offer some free assistance to people that can't afford treatments. Do you know of any groups where I can apply for such a thing? I'm in NYC if that's relevant.

#2) Are there any pet insurance companies that are actually worth the value that will cover serious care for an already aging cat? I can probably scrounge up $50 a month to pay a premium, but not the $500 every few weeks that I've already had to do.

Also, my cat is very sensitive to new environments and people and other animals (and my absence) so any suggestions to rehouse her with someone who could pay are not acceptable, as rehousing her would be as much of a blow to her quality of life as an untreated illness. I am only seeking suggestions on how to afford her care.

Please help. Thank you.
posted by greta simone to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have heard very, very good things about Care Credit, but I haven't used it myself yet. I plan to sign up if my puppy ever needs anything more expensive than his routine vet care. If I were you, first thing I'd do is check with your vet to see if they accept it, and then go from there.
posted by phunniemee at 1:22 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the record I have (and totally recommend) Trupanion but all insurance companies have exclusion periods for any pre-existing conditions so insurance is not going to help you any time soon.

I'm sorry about your kitty though, she is adorable.
posted by magnetsphere at 1:24 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Phunniemee- Care Credit is exactly the vet-credit I was speaking about above. It only offered the same amount of credit that I could extend my already existing credit for, at twice the APR. :-/
posted by greta simone at 1:26 PM on January 26, 2013


If she hasn't been technically diagnosed yet, would that count as pre-existing? Even though we know she was something bad, we just don't know what yet.
posted by greta simone at 1:27 PM on January 26, 2013


You won't know unless you call them but if your cat is already at the vet getting tests and treatments I have no doubt that is going to fall under pre-existing conditions clauses. This is exactly what they want to avoid, they don't want people to buy insurance just because their pet is sick, they want you to buy it years before they get sick.
posted by magnetsphere at 1:33 PM on January 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Best-case-scenario: She has a kidney disease I will have to treat her for for the rest of her life. Worst-case-scenario: Cancer.

Is it really necessary to find out exactly what is wrong with Greta? After more expensive testing and you find out that she has cancer, would you be able to afford the treatments, that is, if any exists? Would your vet consider treatment for the kidney disease without a full blown diagnostic test (expensive) and see how Greta responds?

My vet would do this sometimes when my fiances were tight. Her philosophy was, " We have it narrowed down to a few possible problems, lets start treating for the most likely problem and see how he (my cat) responds. We don't always need to know exactly was is ailing the cat, our ultimate goal is to have him respond to treatment. If he responds, all is well."

Sorry to hear about your kitty. I have an older cat (15+) and will be facing some of these issues myself
posted by JujuB at 1:38 PM on January 26, 2013


JujuB, we already did that for the best-best case scenario, and the treatment didn't work. It may have even made it worse. We discussed that in order to pursue furthur treatments that won't negatively effect her, that we need to do some diagnostic tests.
posted by greta simone at 1:46 PM on January 26, 2013


There is a Blue Pearl Vet in NY. There is a charity associated w/ them, Frankie's Friends, that raises money to help people - I'm not sure what the guidelines are, exactly - I donate to them because my cat has had cancer, and they do things with pets and cancer - but regardless - I'd check in with them to see if there is assistance for you, or if there are other avenues.

Our local Blue Pearl affiliate is fantastic, so I hope you would have the same experience at this hospital. If it IS cancer, this is, in my experience with my local affiliate, where you want to be.

Good luck.
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:26 PM on January 26, 2013


The advantage of Care Credit over your regular line of credit is the ability to pay off charges over a period of months without interest. I have never paid interest on my Care Credit card. Just something to think about.
posted by amapolaroja at 3:40 PM on January 26, 2013


The pet insurances that I investigated ~1 year ago would not cover anything that was pre-existing, in that, your pet might possibly have had it before you bought the insurance, which is pretty obvious in the case here (and was obvious in my case as well). I don't think you'll be able to get pet insurance.

I'm sorry you have to deal with this--I know how much it sucks.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 3:43 PM on January 26, 2013


nthing Care Credit....I have used it multiple times for vet and dental care and have never paid any interest. But you have to pay it off in the agreed amount of time or the interest is retroactive to the date of the original charge....then it is very expensive.
posted by cairnoflore at 4:05 PM on January 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


We have Trupanion for our cat and found them very helpful. Pre-existing conditions may be an issue.
posted by arcticseal at 7:01 PM on January 26, 2013


I manage a vet clinic and deal with this sort of stuff every day.

No pet insurance that I am aware of covers pre-existing conditions (or if they do, it's going to end up costing you more than just paying outright). Please also keep in mind that generally speaking with pet insurance, you pay your vet and the insurance reimburses you, so you still have to come up with the cash upfront and only get back a percentage of it.

You appear to have been misled about Care Credit, they offer interest-free payment plans, but it depends on what your vet chooses to offer, since it costs the vet money to offer it. Ask your vet how much interest-free time they can offer if you pay with Care Credit, it is normally a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 18 months, and generally depends on how much you spend. Oh, and if you can't pay it off within the interest-free period, transfer the balance to another card, since once they start charging interest it is horrifying.

Good luck with your kitty.
posted by biscotti at 6:02 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would highly recomend you call the ASPCA's animal hospital on the UES. Explain your situation to the receptionist. I believe they offer some financial aid but usually only to clients who CareCredit decline to fund.

There's also The Humane Society of New York's clinic. I don't know anyone who has dealt with them directly but I've heard they can held with financial hardship cases.
posted by OsoMeaty at 12:45 PM on January 27, 2013


I should also mention most clinics that offer fin. aid to clients have strict guidelines they use to determine if your case is fundable.
posted by OsoMeaty at 12:46 PM on January 27, 2013


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