Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My beloved cat has really bad dental disease, and the vet has quoted me $1,000 for a teeth cleaning and extractions. There’s no way I can afford this. What can I do? Is there anything I can do for home treatment? I don’t want my cat to suffer!
Thomas: Sam, we totally understand your concern. Dental disease is not just painful, it can make your cat sick in lots of other ways. It can affect the heart and the kidneys, for one thing. And if your cat is diabetic, it can actually make the disease worse.
Bella: It’s unfortunate that there’s no way you can treat dental disease at home. After all, you can’t treat your cavities at home or give yourself a root canal, either!
Tara: But the good news is that there are resources that can help you get treatment for your cat’s dental disease. There are lots of nonprofits that provide funds for pet health care.
Thomas: And we’re going to give you a list of places to start!
Bella: Keep in mind that these organizations do have income guidelines that applicants need to meet. If you’re on a fixed income, a senior citizen, disabled, or “working poor,” so to speak, the odds are that they will be able to offer financial support.
Tara: At least to an extent. Even if they can’t cover the whole cost, they may at least be able to help.
Thomas: We know a lot of people get “sticker shock” when they go to the vet and get an estimate for the cost of dental care. Depending on where you live, the cost can be very high indeed. And even a couple hundred dollars can be a lot when you’re barely making ends meet.
Bella: Although there are a few nonprofit vet hospitals out there, most of them are not. That’s not to say they’re making a profit, mind you, but they do have to keep the doors open and the lights on.
Tara: A couple of nonprofit animal hospitals we know of are DoveLewis, an emergency clinic in Portland, Oregon, and Planned Pethood Plus in Denver, Colorado. If you know of others, please mention them in the comments!
Thomas: So, without further ado, here’s a list of U.S.-based resources that may be able to offer you support for getting your cat the dental disease treatment he needs:
- Harley’s Hope Foundation offers assistance to low-income pet owners to help them afford needed vet care.
- The Animal Friends Rescue Project has a list of links to organizations that can help.
- Best Friends also has a great list of resources including state-by-state links.
- RedRover has a list of organizations that may be able to help. It also has its own relief program. Don’t be fooled by the name; there are organizations that help cats as well as dogs.
- The Shakespeare Animal Fund may be able to help.
- The Pet Fund has an application for funding. They help low-income pet guardians afford veterinary care.
- NeedHelpPayingBills.org has a list of funds and discount programs at certain teaching hospitals. We don’t know how current this list is, but it’s worth checking.
Bella: Some of the organizations we used to recommend are unfortunately closed or have no more funding available except for dire situations like cancer. We checked these links on October 30, 2016, and they were all offering aid at the time.
Tara: Another idea is to set up a GoFundMe to get assistance for your cat’s vet care costs. These work best if you can promote them on social media like Facebook or Twitter.
Thomas: There are other similar donation sites, but we’ve seen good results with GoFundMe.
Bella: Another option, if you have decent credit, is to apply for a CareCredit card. This card offers zero interest for vet care expenses for the first six months. After that, the interest rate jumps to at least 25 percent, so you’ll want to pay it off as quickly as you can!
Tara: Pet health insurance can be a huge help if you want to be protected against future illnesses or injuries.
Thomas: But keep in mind that pet insurance cannot help if your cat is already sick. No pet insurance company covers pre-existing conditions.
Bella: Pet health insurance can be very confusing sometimes. There are lots of companies, and some are much better than others. We recommend visiting Pet Insurance University to find out about each policy, in plain English. The vet who runs the site also explains the benefits and “gotchas” of every policy out there.
Tara: We hope you find these resources helpful. And of course, if you have any other suggestions, please mention them in the comments. If you have resources from countries outside the U.S., we’d be especially grateful!