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When times are hard, it can be worrying to think that you might not be able to provide for your beloved cat. We’ve put together some advice to help if you’re struggling with the cost of owning a cat.

As cat owners, we know you want the very best for your pet. With the cost of living rising though, you might find money doesn’t go as far as it used to which can leave you with some tough choices to make when it comes to spending.

Any pet is going to cost money, so it’s important to know what help is available and how you can plan for the months to come.


Help with neutering costs

It’s really important to have your cat neutered – it can prevent them from getting certain diseases and prevents unwanted litters of kittens (which can also be costly!). You can read more about neutering your cat on our advice pages.

If you want to get your cat neutered, but are worried about the cost, we may be able to help you. We run a financial assistance scheme as part of our neutering programme to offer free or low-cost neutering.

Financial help with neutering 

Help with vet costs

Unfortunately, we are unable to help with everyday veterinary costs. As a charity, our funds are limited and we have thousands of cats in our centres and branches who all need caring for.

If you are worried that your cat may be unwell but are concerned about the costs of treatment, the first step is to contact your local veterinary practice. They will be able to advise you whether your cat needs urgent attention. Have an honest conversation with your vet about what you can afford. Your vet should be able to provide you with a range of treatment options that can be tailored to your circumstances.

Don’t be tempted to try home remedies or to ask those without a veterinary qualification to help. Many human medications are not suitable for pets and some can be extremely toxic for cats. It’s very important to speak to a qualified vet before any treatment for your cat is carried out.

There are a few ways you can get help with your cat’s vet bills:

  • other charities may be able to help you:
    - PDSA offers low-cost and free veterinary services to eligible people. Try contacting PDSA or use their online eligibility checker
    - Blue Cross may also be able to offer financial help for vet bills. Find out more about financial assistance from Blue Cross
    - RSPCA offers subsidised vet care in some locations. Owners are advised to contact their local RSCPA branch or centre to see if they may qualify for assistance. Find your local RSPCA
  • there may be charities local to you which offer low-cost or subsidised treatment. Check local information boards and directories to see if there are any in your area
  • talk to your vet about lower-cost treatment alternatives. These options often have good results although may come with more uncertainty – your vet will be able to fully explain any alternative
  • you may be able to spread the cost of treatment. Some veterinary practices offer payment plans through a credit company so it’s worth asking if this payment option is available. You may wish to get independent advice before using a credit company

Sometimes, the only way to end a pet’s suffering is through the option of euthanasia. If you’re struggling with the thought of putting your cat to sleep, Cats Protection’s Paws to Listen service can provide a sympathetic ear at a difficult time.

And remember, please be kind to your vet! Vets will want what is best for your cat and are doing their utmost to help pets, often in difficult and demanding circumstances. Unfortunately, they are not able to offer their services for free and often have to make difficult decisions that can put a huge strain on them emotionally. Always be kind.

How to keep vet bills down

One of the biggest costs cat owners face is likely to be vet bills. Caring for your cat while they’re injured or unwell takes a lot of time and skill. There are a few things you can do to try and keep vet bills down, though, including:

  • keeping up to date on preventative treatments, such as vaccines. Making sure your cat gets their vaccines yearly will help prevent them from getting certain illnesses which could cost a lot more in the long run. Vaccines and other treatments mean your cat is less likely to need veterinary treatment (at a much higher cost) for preventable illnesses. Find out more about vaccinating your cat
  • insurance. If you shop around and compare the best deals, having insurance in place could save you a lot of money if your cat becomes unwell or needs emergency care. Remember to check what your policy covers. Find out more information on cat insurance
  • see what schemes your vet offers. Sometimes your local vet practice might offer a pay monthly scheme which will cover all your cat’s preventative treatments and give you a discount on any operations they may need. Have a chat with your local practice to see if they run a scheme like this

Obviously, keeping your cat healthy can also help you to keep vet costs down! We have lots of free advice on our site about how to keep your cat healthy which you can take a look at.

Browse our free cat care advice

If your cat does become unwell, you should always call your vet. You legally have a duty of care to your cat so don’t avoid vet trips.

Help with the cost of cat food

Another big expense for cat owners is feeding their moggy. A healthy, balanced, complete diet is vital for a cat to keep them healthy.

If you’re struggling with cat food costs, your local food bank may have pet food donations so it is always worth asking if they can help you. Charities such as the Trussell Trust run food banks across the country, so you can search for your local food bank on their website. You may need a referral to use a food bank, so contact your local Citizens Advice or your council to talk to someone about getting a food bank referral.

Our centres are also partnering with local organisations to help cat owners during times of hardship to access food for their cat. Our Community Kitty scheme enables us to provide donated cat food to community partners tackling hunger and poverty. This is an opportunity for us to support owners who may find themselves in a position where they are concerned about having to give up their cat.

Your cat doesn’t need to eat the most expensive pet food. As long as the cat food you give them is age appropriate and is a complete cat food, it is good enough for them! They also don’t need a regular supply of treats and will still love you even without them. Find out more about what to feed your cat.

Help with the everyday costs of owning a cat

Our cats need more than food and vet visits to keep them happy. They still need to be able to play, to scratch, have access to a litter tray, somewhere warm to cuddle up at night and they’ll always need lots of love and attention from you.

These extra ‘daily’ costs of owning a cat definitely don’t have to break the bank. There are lots of ways your cat can live their best life without you feeling the pinch.

You can help keep costs down by:

  • buying larger bags of cat litter. Sometimes a larger bag is more cost-effective than buying lots of smaller bags over the same amount of time. Remember, your cat doesn’t need the most expensive litter, either
  • keeping the litter tray clean. By cleaning any poop or wee from their litter tray as soon as they do it, you’ll help keep their litter cleaner for longer rather than having to throw out all their cat litter and start over every day. It will also encourage your cat to use their tray, as cats hate to use a soiled tray. If your cat is happy to regularly use their litter tray, this can help prevent potentially costly conditions like cystitis and constipation. Aim to spot clean your litter tray at least twice a day and give your cat’s litter tray a full clean once a week
  • make your own cat toys. Cats don’t need expensive toys – in fact most of them are perfectly happy with a cardboard box! You can make lots of toys from items around your home. Take a look at our blog for DIY cat toy ideas

Giving up your cat

We hope no one should have to give up their cat, however sometimes it might be in your cat’s best interests to do so. If you find you can no longer afford your cat’s care and are struggling, then you might be considering giving your cat away. While this is an extremely difficult decision to make, we understand that sometimes it is the best option for both you and your cat.

We are here for you. It is far better to get in touch with your local Cats Protection centre or branch than rehome your cat yourself. We may be able to discuss ways we can support you to keep your cat.

We check all our potential adopters and will make sure your cat is matched with the best family for them. While our centres and branches are quite busy at the moment, please get in touch and our team will see what they can do to help you.

Find your nearest Cats Protection centre or branch

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