According to the 2013-2014 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, typical cat owners spend about $282 a year on food, toys, and grooming for their feline friend. That's cheap for sure, only it's missing one key line item: medical costs. As with people, medical care for cats is costly, and especially for emergency visits. Owners should be prepared for the chance that someday they may be on the receiving end of a medical bill for hundreds, even thousands of bucks for lifesaving treatment. Or, having to put down a cat because treatment is too expensive. "It's really the emergencies [that are expensive], or when a pet gets a chronic illness – kidney disease, for example, is a common illness in older cats," says Dr. Chan.
Thus, Chan recommends taking key preventative health-care measures, like having the cat properly vaccinated and making yearly trips to the vet to screen for dental disease and early signs of illness. Chan also encourages cat owners to invest in pet insurance when possible. "Having a backup plan or an emergency plan" is crucial, she says. "A lot of times I see pets who have been injured and owners are surprised by the expense of the emergency and just don't have the means to pay for it, and so we end up euthanizing."