Currently, there is a guy on social media who says that he has to put down his pet cat because he can’t afford the $5,000 surgery as he is already “swimming in debt”. He has said goodbye to his cat, Aramis, “one of the goofiest cats that ever lived”. It’s a tragic little vignette of American life. It indicates that Aramis could have been saved and could have had a longer life if this unknown gentleman had a little more disposable income.
The story throws up some questions and some answers. The commenters to the Reddit.com posting are enlightening. The general tenor is that American veterinarians are putting up their prices. This may be in line with a general inflation of prices in the West post-Covid. There may be a general trend anyway.
This trend may in part be caused by an increase in the number of pet owners who insure their pet against health issues. The percentage of Americans ensuring their pets has increased from 1% to 3% over the past three years. Most of this increase is in respect of dog insurance.
The pet insurance market has been rising at an annual average growth rate of almost 24.2% from 2016 to 2020 in America according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. Dogs represented 83% of the premiums paid in 2020.
The man who put down his cat because he couldn’t afford the veterinary treatment could have taken out pet health insurance. That would have saved the life of his cat. However, an indirect consequence of pet insurance is that it pushes up prices. And when prices go up pet owners are more likely to take out pet insurance and therefore you have a circuitous growth in veterinary and insurance business.
Are American vets greedy?
It appears to be agreed among a percentage of Americans in SoCal that it is cheaper to take a round trip to Mexico and seek the services of a Mexican veterinarian where drug and veterinary services are significantly cheaper than in America. There is an argument that it is cheaper to treat your pet this way than driving down to your local veterinarian. This indicates inflated prices in America.
A vet tech says that the veterinary practices in America are charged a “huge amounts for drugs”. But she says that “many practices are greedy themselves so it’s a double blow for clients. She says that “my monitoring and caring for your pet isn’t worth $1000 a night. That’s where both pharmaceutical companies and veterinary practices make their money at the expense of the owners.”
A good indicator that some American veterinarians might be greedy is the fact that, in general, they hold on to the declawing operation. This is against their oath and against the health and welfare of cats. It is done at the whim and convenience of their owners. It’s a good money earner and it is immoral to do the operation. Greed can only be the reason why vets won’t give it up and why increasingly state legislatures have decided to ban the operation (New York State and Maryland).
However, in defense of veterinarians, they are highly trained and they deserve to be well paid. Is it that some people simply can’t afford to look after a companion animal?
Run your own pet health insurance policy
If you can’t afford vet prices you might lose your pet. There is a third way in addition to paying your veterinary practice with cash or paying them through an insurance policy.
You can run your own insurance policy. This must be the best way. It’s because insurers make money out of you and therefore when you pay an insurance premium you are also paying the administrators of the insurance company and they like to be well paid.
If you run your own insurance program you cut out those overheads. So, what you do is you put aside a certain amount of money every month into a designated bank account. This account will be a savings account with access. You will get some interest on it but not much. The money will accrue. There will come a time when you will have $5000 and it and at that time you will save the life of your cat.
Yes, it takes self-discipline and you’ve got to get out of any debt spiral that you might have got into. Think long-term and small increments in savings. You’ll be surprised at the effectiveness of this way of thinking. And let’s remember cat ownership is a long-term project. It does not lend itself to self-indulgence but discipline, giving and kindness.
One of the great omissions in the thinking of many people who adopt companion animals is financial budgeting. There are other omissions such as a failure to do due diligence on any health issues to which your desired animal might be predisposed. But perhaps the biggest issue which remains unaddressed by many people before adopting an animal is the cost of maintaining their new pet to a good standard over the animal’s lifetime.
The general view is that in America it costs about $16,000 to look after a companion animal over his or her lifetime. In the UK could be about £12,000. It will vary depending upon the standard of care delivered. This needs to be budgeted for in order to avoid the kind of dire dilemma suffered by the man who had to put down his cat Aramis.
There are some more articles on pet insurance below.