Cat Insurance

Protect your feline friend — and your bank account — with cat insurance. Learn all there is to know about how cat insurance works, how much it costs and what it covers in our handy guide.

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Renata Balasco

Senior Content Strategist

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Renata joined The Zebra in 2020 as a Customer Experience Agent. Since 2021, she has worked as licensed insurance professional and content strategist.…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Cat insurance: explained

If you’re one of the 45 million households in the United States that own a cat[1], you know how important their health and happiness are to a fulfilling life. Regular vet visits and emergency action plans are crucial to keeping your cat safe; but it's no secret that those bills can add up, especially in an unforeseen emergency. 

This is where pet insurance for cats could come in handy. The prevalence of pet insurance is on the rise, with cat insurance in particular seeing a 33% increase in policies written from 2021 to 2022[2] If you choose to cover your cat with an insurance policy, you would join the nearly one million insured cat owners in the country.  To see if cat insurance is right for you, read on to learn more about how cat insurance works, coverage options, costs, and more. 

Key takeaways: 

  • The best time to get cat insurance is when your kitty is young and healthy. 
  • Cat insurance works on a reimbursement basis and comes with deductibles, limits, and exclusions.
  • Pet insurance companies use rating factors like age, breed and location to determine a fair rate. 
  • Various insurance plans are available with unique coverage options so you can select the right plan for your pet. 

What is cat insurance?

Cat insurance, like other forms of insurance, is meant to protect your wallet from large emergency expenses. Pet insurance provides peace of mind, though pet owners would ideally never have to use it. Depending on the plan you select, cat insurance can cover routine visits, vaccines, accident or illness care, or other costly pet care needs. 

Much like auto or home insurance, pet insurance comes with deductibles, limits, and exclusions. What’s unique about pet insurance is the fact that it operates on a reimbursement basis. Pet owners can take their cats to the vet for whatever care they require and file a claim with the pet insurance provider afterward. Reimbursements are typically 70%, 80% or 90% of the total cost minus the deductible, depending on the number you set at the start of your policy. 

Regular vet visits and emergency preparedness plans are important duties of a cat owner, particularly if your cat goes outside. Pet insurance for your cat can protect your bank account from unexpected hits should your companion face medical challenges. In further sections, we will explore cat insurance more deeply and determine whether enrolling in a policy is right for you. 

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How much does cat insurance cost? 

Perhaps the most important factor in considering a cat insurance policy is the cost; how much are premiums, and will they save me in the long run? The answer depends on several factors, but luckily cat insurance remains more affordable than dog insurance

Cat insurance companies take your cat’s age, breed, location, and relative health into consideration when rating a policy. Different care plans also include specific coverages and vary in cost range. For example, some plans can be as low as $10 per month, while more comprehensive policies cost more. The North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA) states that the average rate for an emergency-only plan for cats is $10 monthly, while an accident and illness policy will run you about $32 per month. 

To further put this in perspective, AVMA reports that the average vet expenditure for cat owners is around $182 per year[3]. Of course, this number will vary based on your cat's age, breed and health as well as the city you live in, but this estimate is fairly comparable to average annual cat insurance premiums.

Cat insurance rating factors

Your rate for cat insurance is based on several factors, but most commonly includes the age of your pet, breed, and geographic location.

  • Age: Older pets cost more to insure than younger ones, as older cats generally have more health concerns than kittens. 
  • Breed: Certain cat breeds are more prone to health problems than others. If you own one of these breeds, they may be more costly to insure.
  • Location: If vet fees are particularly high where you live, pet insurance fees are likely to be more expensive. 

What does cat insurance cover?

Depending on the plan you select, your pet insurance policy can cover everything from annual vaccines, to infection care, to blood tests. Every insurance company offers different coverage options, but let’s take a look at some of the most common pet insurance plans available on the market and what types of care they cover. 

  • Accident-only: Typically the cheapest option, this policy type only provides coverage if your pet is injured in an accident.
  • Accident and illness: This coverage tier will help with emergencies and costs related to illness.
  • Comprehensive: This is the most robust policy option and covers everything from hereditary conditions to vaccinations to illnesses.
  • Routine wellness: Check-ups, routine visits and vaccinations are covered under this plan. Sometimes this can be found as an endorsement to one of the above plans.
Accident-Only Accident and Illness Comprehensive Routine Wellness
Swallowed objects Accidents (swallowed objects, broken bones, etc.) Accidents & illnesses Immunizations & vaccines
Broken bones Infections Breed-specific conditions Flea & tick prevention
Wounds Allergies Cancer Heartworm prevention
Vehicle injury Hereditary conditions Hospitalization Dental cleanings
Animal bite Labs/blood tests Arthritis Annual screening

The above table represents the most common coverages available under each plan. Specifics will vary by carrier, however, so it’s important to examine exactly what the plan you’re considering covers.

What isn’t covered by cat insurance? 

It’s important to know what exactly you’re paying for when it comes to insurance, and that means understanding exclusions. In addition to exclusions, there are often waiting periods associated with policy effective dates; this is to ensure your cat is symptom-free before you begin filing claims[4]. There are certain things that are rarely, if ever, covered in pet insurance; see common examples below:

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Pre-existing conditions

This includes anything in your pet’s medical history before the policy starts will be excluded from the policy.

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Pregnancy and/or birth

Some policies may offer add-on coverage in the event of complications, but most consider pregnancy an exclusion.

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Cosmetic or elective procedures

These types of procedures would include feline declawing and removal, tail docking or anal gland expression. Insurance companies are not willing to cover such procedures. 

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Non-veterinary care

Services like voluntary DNA testing, boarding, grooming, training, and other products like food, toys, and litter will not be covered under any pet insurance policy. 

Saving money on cat insurance

Like other forms of insurance, there are a few steps you can take to lower your overall premiums. As always, ask your pet insurance provider about discount opportunities. In addition, you can: 

  • Select a higher deductible
  • Choose a lower reimbursement level
  • Pay in full at the start of the policy rather than monthly
  • Choose a cheaper coverage plan (less coverage means lower rates)
  • Shop around for the best rate with different pet insurance companies

Do I need cat insurance?

As pet insurance is a relatively new concept, many owners find themselves asking, “Is it worth it?” The answer varies from person to person. To help you decide, consider the following questions before enrolling:

  • Could I pay for the vet expenses if my cat had an emergency health issue?
  • Can I afford a monthly payment, and if so, how much fits my budget?
  • Does my cat go outside and interact with nature and wildlife?
  • Does my cat tend to ingest objects other than his food/treats?
  • Does my cat already have health concerns or injuries that wouldn't be covered?
  • Is having the peace of mind of insurance worth the price for me, personally?
petting cat

Choosing a cat insurance company

With so many options to explore, choosing an insurance provider for your pet can feel daunting. Comparing several companies is the most effective way to find the cheapest rate, but when it comes to the health of our furry friends, we tend to want the very best care. Be sure to carefully consider which coverage level is right for you, and which company offers the right package within that coverage level. Look out for waiting periods, exclusions, reimbursement limits, additional coverage options and limitations on veterinarians. Take the time to compare policies and companies before making a commitment. If pet insurance is right for your cat, your wallet and your companion will thank you!

Frequently asked questions

As with all non-mandatory insurance lines, ultimately the choice is yours. Cat insurance is best for young, healthy kittens and owners who cannot shoulder the financial burden of a possible emergency.

Depending on the coverage level you select, a cat insurance policy can cover emergency visits, illness care, routine wellness, and more. Different plans offer different protections, so be sure to understand your policy before enrolling.

Sometimes, pet insurance companies set an age cap on new policies (typically 10 years old). It is best to get cat insurance when your feline friend is young, as pet insurance for older cats is typically more expensive.

Cat insurance policies are typically cheaper than dog insurance plans, costing $10-$30 per month on average. This number will vary depending on several factors and which insurance company you select.

About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
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  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.