Cancer is a very serious disease in cats and it’s one of the most common causes of death for elderly felines. While chemotherapy isn’t as advanced for cats as it is for people, it does exist. However, it is very expensive and, therefore, often not considered. Luckily, several options have come up over the past few years to make it more affordable, such as pet insurance and financing.
Therefore, while it is still expensive, there are more ways to pay for it. It’s becoming more popular as a result. In general, chemotherapy can cost anywhere from $100 to $600 a dose.
Understanding the cost of chemotherapy can be confusing, as there are often many individual charges. Let’s look at what you can expect to pay for chemotherapy and other factors to consider.
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- The Importance of Chemotherapy for Cats
- How Much Does Chemotherapy for Cats Cost?
- Additional Costs to Anticipate
- How Long Does Chemotherapy Last for Cats?
- Does Pet Insurance Cover Chemotherapy?
- Can You Prevent Cancer in Cats?
The Importance of Chemotherapy for Cats
If your cat has cancer, chemotherapy is often the only treatment option. Otherwise, cats are often only treated for symptoms and made comfortable. The exact treatment for each pet will vary. Cats vary like humans, so their cancer treatments won’t be the same.
While chemotherapy doesn’t ensure that your cat survives, it is often required to give them a chance. Therefore, if your vet recommends chemotherapy, that should be your cat’s treatment. However, the costs can be prohibitive, as you might expect. You can use pet insurance to pay for some of it and finance through other options.
How Much Does Chemotherapy for Cats Cost?
Chemotherapy itself can cost anywhere from $150 to $600 a dose. However, your pet will need several doses for a full treatment. The exact amount depends on the type of cancer and how your cat responds to it. The exact fees will also depend on the type of medication, such as whether it is oral or through an IV.
Your feline will also need several other procedures at each treatment visit. For instance, the vet will need to examine the cat, do blood work, and prep them for the chemo. Luckily, these costs are often included in the chemotherapy treatment. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about paying hidden fees.
Of course, your costs also depend on your area to some extent. Urban areas often have higher vet costs overall, while rural areas often have lower costs.
However, fees can be hard to pin down without visiting the vet. Sometimes, the vet will recommend surgery and then chemotherapy. In this case, you’ll have to pay for the surgery, but the cost of the chemotherapy may be lower.
Additional Costs to Anticipate
There are also several other treatment costs you may need to consider. You’ll often need to travel to a vet experienced in cancer treatments. These vets are likely different than the vets you have locally. You’ll also need to take off work in many circumstances. Consider the lost wages, too.
Most of the time, your cat will need an exam before treatment begins. This exam isn’t included in the treatment cost, so you’ll need to pay separately. Not all pet insurance companies cover these costs, either.
Sometimes, side effects may occur due to the chemotherapy and you may need to purchase other medications to counteract these side effects. These extras are not included in the chemotherapy price, but they can get costly.
How Long Does Chemotherapy Last for Cats?
The length of chemotherapy varies greatly. It depends on the type of cancer and how well your cat responds. Often, the vet will have some idea of the number of treatments needed. However, there is no way to know for sure until your feline begins treatment. Some cats respond quickly and don’t need as many treatments, while others may need extra treatments.
With that said, most cats will need more than one treatment so you can generally expect to pay for more than one dose. Also consider other fees you may have to pay, such as missed wages from work or travel fees.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Chemotherapy?
Most pet insurance companies do cover chemotherapy. However, pet insurance does not cover preexisting conditions. Therefore, you have to purchase the plan before your cat is diagnosed. Otherwise, the cancer will be preexisting and won’t get covered.
Furthermore, you’ll also have to check the details of your plan. Some plans have a deductible you’ll need to pay before they pay anything. However, you’ll often meet most deductibles with chemotherapy. Other plans may have a maximum and after the insurance pays that maximum, they may not pay any more. In this way, you may end up paying some more in the end.
Some plans may not pay for vet exams. You’ll likely need a vet exam at every appointment and before treatment. Unless your plan covers these, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket.
Pet insurance only plays a percentage of the bill, as well. This percentage ranges from 70% to 90%, usually. Therefore, you’ll still have to pay for a percentage of chemotherapy for your feline. It won’t cover everything.
Can You Prevent Cancer in Cats?
Because cancer is so deadly and treatment so expensive, many cat owners wonder how they can prevent cancer. However, there isn’t much definitive proof of what causes cancer, so preventing it is very difficult. Some things we know cause cancer, like exposure to certain chemicals. However, completely avoiding these can be challenging in our modern world.
Getting your cat spayed or neutered can reduce their risk for certain cancers. Usually, these involve the reproductive organs. The feline leukemia virus has also been linked to several types of cancer. There is a vaccine available, so getting your cat vaccinated can reduce their odds of cancer.
Poor nutrition and obesity can cause all sorts of issues. Luckily, you can prevent this issue by consistently feeding a quality diet and keeping your cat’s weight in check. An annual exam can help prevent this issue, as your cat will get weighed regularly. If your cat is obese, it’s essential to work with your vet to lower its weight to a healthy level.
Always keep a close eye on your cat for health differences. It’s important to diagnose cancer early. Therefore, if your cat seems off, you should take them to the vet. Early diagnoses increase the odds of successful treatment, which may reduce your overall costs due to needing fewer dosages.
Chemotherapy can cost anywhere from $100 to $600 a dose. This cost includes everything associated with that visit—for the most part. On each visit, your pet will need to be examined, prepped for chemo, and have blood work done. These procedures are included in this price. Exactly what needs to be done will change the cost of the treatment.
While pet insurance often covers a range of different therapies, not all procedures associated with chemotherapy will be covered. For instance, pet insurance often does not cover vet exams—only treatments and tests. Therefore, you’ll still have to pay for some of these costs.
Featured Image Credit: Raihana Asral, Shutterstock