Wellness Plans for Cats

Lauren Mick, LVT
By Lauren Mick, LVT. Reviewed by Jennifer Coates, DVM on May 19, 2022
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Cats may seem self-sufficient, but don’t let that fool you. Just like people, your furry feline needs regular wellness checkups.

Depending on their age and health status, your vet may recommend bringing your cat in once or twice a year for their wellness exam. Visits for preventive care in kittens are even more frequent!

As we all know, keeping up with even routine pet care can be pricey. Average yearly costs for cats can be $500-$2000 for all recommended wellness care (this can include physicals, dental cleanings, bloodwork, fecal exams for parasites, urinalysis, and more). The cost varies depending on where you live and your pet’s health status and age, but regardless, it’s a pretty penny! 

One thing you can do to help manage these costs is to purchase a wellness plan for your cat. Here is what you need to know about cat wellness plans.

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What Are Wellness Plans for Cats?

In some ways, wellness plans for cats are similar to some aspects of health insurance policies for people. In exchange for a monthly fee, the plan will cover the cost of your cat’s wellness visits throughout the year. You just have to schedule the appointments when it’s convenient for your family.

But there is one major difference. Human insurance covers everything from everyday illnesses, routine checkups, and vaccines to hospital stays and chronic health conditions.

Traditional pet insurance usually only covers emergencies, accidents, illnesses, and new health conditions (meaning your cat did not have symptoms or a diagnosis prior to purchasing the insurance plan). They do not usually cover preventive care or wellness visits.

A wellness plan is usually an add-on to a traditional cat insurance policy, and it comes with an extra monthly fee. Some companies offer standalone wellness plans where you don’t have to have a pet insurance plan and can purchase the wellness plan on its own. Most companies offer at least two levels of coverage for wellness care, while some offer only one or up to three.

Wellness plans are typically offered by pet insurance companies, but they are also sometimes offered by vet clinics or other companies to encourage pet parents to stay current with their cat’s routine preventive care. Having a wellness plan makes it more likely you’ll schedule your cat’s routine exams and wellness care.

What Do Cat Wellness Plans Cover?

Cat wellness plans cover a multitude of feline preventive health needs, including:

  • Examinations: The yearly or twice-yearly veterinary exam is one of the most important parts of caring for your cat’s health. During an exam, the vet will look at your cat from head to toe, including their ears, eyes, coat, mouth, and muscle mass. They will listen to your cat’s heart and palpate your cat’s belly for early signs of trouble.

  • Routine Vaccinations: By covering vaccinations, wellness plans make it easier to protect your kitty from preventable diseases such as FeLV (feline leukemia virus), rabies, or panleukopenia. Most kittens should receive all of these vaccines, with decisions regarding boosters in adults being based on their health and lifestyle.

  • Fecal Testing: Typically, you will bring in a stool sample from the last 24 hours, and your vet will test it for internal parasites in the lab.

  • Parasite Prevention: Many wellness plans cover preventive medications for heartworms, fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites.

Some pet wellness plans also cover:

  • Yearly bloodwork: Yearly bloodwork is extremely helpful. This allows your vet to catch common diseases early on, such as kidney disease, diabetes, and thyroid disorders.

  • Dental care: Professional teeth cleaning may be needed yearly, or even more frequently in some cases. This can be costly, so a wellness plan can be helpful!

  • Spay/neuter: Many wellness plans will reimburse you up to a certain amount for routine spay/neuter procedures.

  • Some may have extra perks, such as a chat with a veterinarian service.

How Do Cat Wellness Plans Work?

Each wellness plan is slightly different, but typically, you will take your pet to their wellness visit and send in a claim afterwards. This is usually a simple process, and you can fill out the claim online, submit it through an app, or send it by email. 

Many plans will have a limit to how much you can claim per year. Most companies have options such as “Basic Coverage” or “Gold Coverage.” The basic plan may top off at $200-$300/year, whereas the higher-tier plan may be capped at $400-500/year. 

You can pick a plan based on the needs of your pet and cost of veterinary care in your area or at a specific clinic. Depending on your plan, they may also have set limits on certain procedures, such as $20 toward a nail trim or $100 toward bloodwork. 

Some plans work more like a typical insurance plan and may pay 70-90% of your visit. The plan may have a limitation on how many visits per year are covered, but most pets will only need to go once a year for routine exams, or twice if they are a senior pet.   

Here’s an example of how a pet wellness plan works:

You take your cat in for their yearly vet visit. The vet does a physical exam, fecal test, and bloodwork, and gives your cat FVRCP and rabies vaccines. With most plans, you pay your vet, but some companies will pay your vet directly, so you won’t need to pay up-front. If you need to pay the vet, be sure to get an itemized receipt that shows payment. You will submit this receipt as your claim for reimbursement. Let’s say these are the charges for your visit:

  • Exam: $60

  • Bloodwork: $150

  • FVRCP: $25

  • Rabies: $25

You have a higher-tier pet wellness plan that covers up to these amounts:

  • Exam: $50

  • Bloodwork: $120

  • FVRCP: $20

  • Rabies: $20

You will pay the vet $260 and be reimbursed $210 later. If your insurance company pays the vet directly, you will only pay the vet $50 and won’t need to submit a claim later.

How Much Do Cat Wellness Plans Cost?

Most wellness plans have a monthly fee of $10-$30 per month, although some offer a lump-sum option so you can pay for the whole year at once.

The monthly fee depends on the company and options you choose. Ask your insurance provider if they are offering any promotions or if they have discounts for multiple pets.

Wellness plans often have an enrollment or startup fee as well for the first year of coverage. This is a one-time fee that you probably won’t have to pay again if you re-enroll on time the following year. It’s always a good idea to check your plan’s details to see exactly which fees you’ll have to pay when you sign up and re-enroll.

Should You Get a Wellness Plan for Your Cat?

A wellness plan will give you peace of mind that all or most of your cat’s preventive appointments are already covered. Insurance also allows you to spread out your expenses rather than being faced with intermittent big bills.

Here are the typical wellness needs for felines:

Kittens (up to 1 year old)

  • Spay/neuter

  • FeLV/FIV test

  • Heartworm test

  • Rabies vaccine

  • FeLV (feline leukemia) vaccine

  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia (FVRCP) vaccine

  • Fecal test 

  • Parasite prevention medication

  • Microchipping

Adults (1-6 years old)

  • Boosters for rabies, FeLV, and FVRCP vaccines based on health and lifestyle

  • Fecal test

  • Screening bloodwork and urinalysis

  • FeLV/FIV testing

  • Parasite prevention medication

  • Microchipping if not previously done

Seniors (7 and over)

Senior cats need everything a typical adult cat needs, plus:

  • Twice-yearly physical exams

  • More extensive senior bloodwork panel

  • Urinalysis

  • Thyroid hormone testing

  • Blood pressure assessment

Signing Up for a Cat Wellness Plan

Choose a wellness plan that fits your cat’s age and healthcare needs. If you have questions about the best fit, consult with your vet about your cat’s ongoing preventive care needs.

Here’s a scenario for what you can expect in signing up for a cat wellness plan:

Beth just adopted a rescue kitty named Bits. Beth researches pet insurance and wellness plans and fills out a questionnaire about Bits, a spayed 4-year-old Domestic Short Hair black cat with no recent medical concerns. Beth gets the basic accident-only traditional pet insurance plan, which is $12 a month, and the company offers two options for wellness plans:

Great (+$11/month):

  • One wellness exam

  • One fecal test (parasites)

  • 3 vaccines

  • 1 heartworm OR FeLV/FIV test

Best (+$17/month):

  • All of the above

  • One dental cleaning

  • Flea/tick or heartworm medication

Beth chooses the “Best” plan for her new rescue cat. So Bits is now covered with an accident-only insurance plan and a wellness plan for a total of $29 per month.

Featured Image: iStock.com/FatCamera

Lauren Mick, LVT


Lauren Mick, LVT

Veterinarian Technician

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