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Should I get Pet Insurance for my Indoor Cat?

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Many indoor cats need pet insurance. While indoor cats are less prone to accidental injuries than their outdoor friends, pet insurance can help pay for costly treatments of cat illnesses or at-home injuries. Alternatively, read about the pros and cons of self insuring your cat.

Should I get Pet Insurance for my Indoor Cat?

More than two-thirds of cats have suffered from a health condition, with the majority affected by illnesses like dental disease or heart murmurs than from "outdoor" accidents such as cat fights. Insuring your indoor cat can help mitigate the financial burden of paying for vet bills associated with a myriad of illnesses and injuries.

To give you an idea of potential costs for cat injuries and illnesses, we've gathered data on some common cat health issues from Tesco Bank pet insurance. As you can see, treating illnesses for indoor cats can cost hundreds of pounds. Pet insurance is not just for outdoor cats.

Cat Injury or IllnessAverage Treatment Cost
Diabetes£297
Vomiting£382
Heart murmur£246
Respiratory condition£384
Gastric condition£438
Arthritis/DJD£143
Tumour£599
Kidney/renal failure£314
Lymphoma£641
Skin condition£169

For comparison, the typical cost to treat injuries from a cat fight for an outdoor cat was £173—less than the cost to treat many cat illnesses that can affect indoor cats. Plus, indoor cats are sometimes injured while in the home. For instance, cats fall from an open window often enough that it's been dubbed "high-rise syndrome."

Clearly, not all cats will need to see the vet and risk will depend on the particular cat and breed—for example, purebreds have a higher likelihood of coat disorders, while crossbred cats are more susceptible to abscesses and hyperthyroidism. There's no crystal ball to predict your cat's future health, so pet insurance can provide peace of mind that you can afford treatment if and when it becomes necessary.

Will Your Indoor Cat Get Ill?

The majority of recorded cat health problems related to illnesses (as opposed to injuries). For instance, 13% of cats had been affected by dental disease and 5% suffered from a heart murmur. So while indoor cats may be less likely to get in a cat fight or be hit by a car, the odds are still relatively high they'll need vet treatment for a health illness such as dental disease, kidney problems, diabetes, cancer, etc.

In fact, a recent study by the RSPCA showed that 32% of cats had no health problems recorded—but the other 68% of cats have experienced at least one health problem during their lives to date. As only 4.6% of cats in the RSPCA study had suffered from an injury such as a cat fight, the vast majority of cat health problems were illnesses which affect both indoor and outdoor cats.

Other Benefits of Pet Insurance

Pet insurance can provide other features that you might find valuable. Coverages vary from plan to plan, so be sure to read a plan's details before you buy. These extra benefits can include:

  • Cattery fees if you have to go into hospital for more than a few days in a row
  • Holiday cancellation if you need to cancel a trip due to a sudden health emergency with your cat
  • Compensation for the death or theft of your cat

Pet Insurance for Pedigree Cats

While all cats can develop an inherited health condition, these types of illness are typically more common in pedigree cats than in mixed breed cats. As a result, owners of pedigree cats may find pet insurance especially valuable to help pay for diagnosis and treatment of any health illnesses which crop up.

Additionally, pedigree cats are more likely to be stolen than mixed breed cats—they tend to be more expensive and in demand, and are therefore worth more to a cat thief. Some pet insurance plans will reimburse you for the theft of your cat, potentially up to the purchase price.

Is Pet Insurance Worth it for Indoor Cat?

Instead of buying pet insurance for an indoor cat, some pet owners choose to self insure—that is, they essentially save up money they'd otherwise pay towards a pet insurance policy and use that money in the event their cat needs to visit the vet. This can be a risky move, however, and can put your cat's health and your financial security at risk.

Self insurance can certainly work for some people, for instance:

  • Those who can easily afford to pay for any vet fees that may arise
  • Those who get lucky with their pet's health

However there are a number of circumstances in which self insurance will not be sufficient to pay the vet fees. For instance, the cost of a cat mri to diagnose seizures will cost around £1,800. Given the average cost of pet insurance for a cat is £225 per year for a plan covering both accidents and illnesses, the typical owner would have to save up for 8 years before having enough to cover an MRI. And this doesn't include any other vet consultation, diagnostic or treatment fees.

Chronic Conditions: Pets who develop a chronic condition typically benefit from a good pet insurance plan (e.g., lifetime pet insurance) as treatments of a chronic condition can cost a pet owner thousands of pounds over the years. And you need to have insurance in place before a chronic condition develops as even pet insurance for pre-existing conditions typically won't cover a chronic condition.

Pet Insurance is a Cost of Cat Ownership: Considering the potential cost of vet treatment these days, we think pet insurance is a necessary cost of cat ownership for indoor cats as well as outdoor cats. To learn more about cat insurance please read our article, What You Need to Know: Cat Insurance.

Comments and Questions

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.