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Congratulations on your new family member! Enjoy this time—kittens grow up so fast. A 2-month-old cat is the equivalent of a human toddler, but by the time they are 1 year old, they’re already a feline “teenager.”

Even though your kitten is young and playful, and you may think they don’t need it, it’s never too early to think about getting your kitten pet insurance.

Do I Need Insurance for My Kitten?

Thankfully, most kittens manage to get to adulthood without major health problems, but some risks are quite common in this stage of life:

  • Kittens are susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases like feline distemper, feline leukemia, and some types of upper respiratory infections while they are in the process of receiving their initial vaccines. It is not until a couple of weeks after their last set of vaccines that they can be considered fully vaccinated.

  • A kitten’s immune system is still a work in progress. They may be unable to fight off diseases, like ringworm, that don’t affect adult cats as frequently.

  • Most kittens have parasites until they receive appropriate medications. Intestinal worms, coccidia, ear mites, and fleas are common in kittens. These parasites can make them miserable and sometimes dangerously ill.

  • Kittens are curious! They may get themselves into situations that lead to injuries, or they eat things like string or toxic plants that make them sick.

Purchasing kitten insurance as soon as you can maximizes your ability to pay for whatever treatment your feline friend might need. And the sooner you get it, the less risk of a health problem being classified as a pre-existing condition that won’t be covered.

How Does Kitten Insurance Work?

It’s important to understand how kitten insurance works before you get a policy. You may be surprised to find out that most pet insurance policies don’t pay for care up-front.

You pay your veterinarian when your kitten is treated. Then you send a copy of your bill (the claim) to your insurance company, and they’ll reimburse you for anything that’s covered under your policy. First, they will subtract your deductible, and then they will pay a portion of the bill according to your reimbursement percentage.

Let’s say the bill was $200. You pay the vet $200 and send the claim to the insurance company. Your deductible is $100, so now the amount left is $100. The reimbursement percentage on your policy is 90%, so the insurance company pays you back $90.

Another point to note is that wellness care for your cat—things like vaccines, checkups, and routine laboratory testing—are usually not covered by traditional kitten insurance. The two types of traditional plans are accident-only and accident and illness, and wellness plans are available either as standalone policies or as add-ons to these types of plans.

What Does Kitten Insurance Cover?

So, what does kitten insurance cover? The answer varies from policy to policy, but when you first start your search, it’s helpful to organize your options into three main categories:

  • Accident and illness plans are the most common type of kitten insurance. They cover things like diagnostic tests, prescription medications, treatments, hospitalization, and surgery when they’re needed due to illness or injury.

  • Accident-only plans are cheaper than accident and illness plans, but they won’t offer any benefits if your kitten gets sick. And sometimes the insurance company doesn’t consider an event an accident, even if it’s something that you would.

  • Wellness plans cover preventive care, not expenses associated with a kitten becoming sick or injured. Wellness plans are available as an add-on option if you’re purchasing traditional kitten insurance or as a standalone policy. A few companies cover wellness care as a part of a more all-inclusive insurance plan. Products and services that are often covered by kitten wellness plans include:

    • Routine checkups

    • Commonly recommended vaccinations

    • Testing for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus

    • Heartworm, flea, and tick preventives

    • Fecal tests and deworming for common intestinal parasites

    • Microchipping

    • Spay/neuter surgeries

How To Get Kitten Insurance

Once you have an idea of the type of kitten insurance you’re interested in, it’s time to dig into the details. Get online quotes from at least two or three reputable companies. Carefully read the policies to understand what is covered, what is excluded, and what your costs will be. Here are a few specifics to watch out for:

  • Maximum payouts (caps)—Most kitten insurance policies have a maximum amount the company will pay, either per year or per incident.

  • Waiting periods—Oftentimes, your policy won’t go into effect immediately. If your kitten requires care during this waiting period, which can vary from a few days to weeks or even longer for certain health problems, the insurance company won’t cover it.

  • Exams—Some insurance policies expect you to pay for fees associated with office visits and physical examinations. Check and see if telehealth visits are covered, too.

  • Hereditary or congenital conditions—Some feline health problems are passed down from parent to offspring (hereditary) or are present at birth (congenital). For example, the extremely flat faces of Persian cats put them at high risk for eye injuries and dental disease. Make sure any health problems that are common for your kitten’s breed are covered.

  • Complementary care—Certain types of treatment, like behavioral therapy, physical rehabilitation, and acupuncture, may or may not be covered.

  • Multi-pet discount—Do you have more than one pet? If so, check if the insurance company offers a multi-pet discount.

Before long, your kitten will be all grown up. It’s often best to stay with the same insurance company as your cat enters adulthood if they have been diagnosed with a condition or had symptoms to avoid pre-existing condition exclusions.

Make sure you like the plans that are available for older cats, and that you won’t be forced to purchase a new policy if you move. Continual coverage for chronic diseases also becomes more important as cats get older. Unfortunately, some cat insurance policies only cover conditions in the year they are diagnosed.

Finding Affordable Kitten Insurance

Kitten insurance policies are available at many different price points. In general, the more you pay, the more that will be covered. However, there are ways you can tweak your coverage if your monthly budget is tight:

  • Raise your deductible. The deductible is the amount you must pay before the insurance policy’s coverage starts to take effect. Higher deductibles usually mean lower monthly premiums.

  • Lower your reimbursement level. The reimbursement level is the percentage of your kitten’s care that the insurance company will cover (90% versus 70%, for example) after your deductible is met. A lower reimbursement percentage will reduce your monthly premium.

But don’t overlook the benefit of spreading out your expenses. It’s much easier to budget for a recurring monthly premium than having to deal with large, unexpected veterinary bills.

There’s no way around the research needed to find a kitten insurance policy that’s right for you, but the satisfaction that comes with knowing you’ll be able to care for your feline friend is worth the time it takes!

Featured Image: iStock.com/vvvita

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