Edited by John Leach
Last Updated May 4, 2021
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When cat parents bring home a new furry friend, most don’t intend to continue expanding their family within the first year.
The reality is that an unneutered female cat can have up to 20 kittens in a single year, which is why most vets recommend sterilization. Spaying and neutering is now a standard procedure, but some pet parents might not understand all the surgery benefits.
Many adoption agencies and shelters require a spay/neuter before potential owners can bring home any new pets. Still, not all cat families find their kitties at shelters. That often means pet parents have to fund the surgery out of pocket, which can end up costing hundreds of dollars. That means this vital operation isn’t always accessible for pet owners.
At Insurify, we know cat owners love their pets and want to do whatever possible to keep them happy and healthy. That’s why so many pet owners have started looking into pet insurance policies to help pay for medical procedures, including sterilizations. Compare different pet insurance policies to get a quote today with Insurify!
How to Know When It’s Time to Spay or Neuter Your Cat
Most veterinary professionals recommend that owners sterilize both male and female cats around four or five months old, which is when they reach sexual maturity. That means female kittens at that age may have their first heat and become pregnant. Kittens from animal shelters may undergo early-age neutering, which means they have the procedure around eight weeks old.
Hearing that your new kitten requires surgery may be hard, but a spay/neuter is a routine procedure. It’s an operation that vets will usually perform under general anesthesia. After a cat is unconscious, a vet will remove its reproductive organs. In female cats, the vet will remove the uterus, ovaries, or both. In male cats, the vet will remove the testicles.
Since the operation requires anesthesia, a cat will likely undergo blood work before the surgery. It may also require several hours of observation afterward. Many pet owners also opt to have microchips put under the skin while their cat is unconscious.
Most owners pursue the operation to avoid unwanted pregnancy, but there are various other benefits to spay/neuter surgery. Cats can give birth to 20 kittens each year, which means potentially having to care for and pay for 20 additional cats. That only contributes to the animal overpopulation problem, which causes shelters to euthanize four million pets a year.
Spaying or neutering your car also prevents a number of other health problems. Unspayed cats are more prone to issues like mammary and uterine tumors. It can also prevent testicular cancer and help stop the spread of FIV and FeLV by decreasing aggression. Sterilization can also stop unwanted behaviors like humping, roaming, and yowling.
A typical spay is an abdominal surgery for female cats. Male cats are castrated, which is usually a non-invasive surgery. Female cats ’ operation typically costs more and requires more aftercare, but all surgical sites usually heal after 14 days. Many vets don’t require e-collars, but they may help if the cat picks at the stitches.
Although the consensus among veterinary professionals is to promote spay and neuter surgery, some have found a link between the surgery and obesity. Still, pursuing the surgery and avoiding unwanted pregnancy typically increases a cat’s lifespan.
The Cost of Spaying or Neutering Your cat
Spay/neuter surgery for cats can end up costing anywhere between $20 and $500, depending on the vet clinic and resources available. The price varies because many low-cost clinics offer the service for low-income homes. Public foundations like the ASPCA receive funding to help control the overpopulation issue, assisting people in affording the surgery.
Unfortunately, some people who cannot afford to spay or neuter their cats may not qualify for low-cost clinics or may not have access to clinics in their area. That means cat owners have to potentially pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket on pre-surgery blood work, the operation, anesthesia, and pain medication. The price usually depends on the cat’s sex and age and the location of the vet.
Without a low-cost clinic, the price of spaying or neutering your cat ranges from $200 to $500. This high price tag may cause pet parents to put off the operation, leading to unwanted kittens and other problems later on. Older cats and female cats typically cost more. The procedure also costs more in areas with a higher cost of living, like New York City and Los Angeles.
Cat parents always want to do what’s best for their furry friends, which is why so many are turning to pet insurance to offer extra peace of mind. Pet insurance lends a helping hand to pet owners by paying for up to 90 percent of qualifying vet bills. Although most traditional insurers don’t cover sterilizations, many companies offer excellent wellness plan add-ons.
Purchasing a wellness plan helps pet parents pay for routine and preventive vet bills, like vaccines, parasite prevention, and sterilization surgery. These policy add-ons can help cover significant portions of a spay/neuter surgery. Pursuing the surgery can also help lower traditional pet insurance costs because sterilized pets are less prone to certain illnesses.
Best Pet Insurance Companies That Cover Spaying and Neutering
Cats are known for being tough, independent little companions. Still, that won’t stop their owners from obsessing over every little aspect of their health, especially when they need surgery. Financial distress can only make these situations worse. That’s why we at Insurify have compiled a list of the best pet insurance companies that include coverage for sterilization.
Embrace is an excellent option for pet families looking to combine a full-coverage policy with a wellness plan add-on. A wellness add-on will help cover routine treatments, including spay/neuter surgery. Embrace is known for being relatively flexible and offers low-cost plans for everyone’s budget. Its wellness plans usually range from $15 to $60 per month.
Pet parents can also purchase an accident-only policy and pair it with a wellness add-on, which can lower the monthly cost. Unlike most pet insurance wellness plans, Embrace doesn’t cap routine coverage at predetermined amounts. Pet parents can choose to set $250, $450, and $650 as the maximum annual amount Embrace will pay toward these procedures.
#2 Pets Best
Pets Best is a fan favorite when it comes to helping pet parents afford expensive vet bills. It is a traditional pet insurance provider that offers wellness plan add-ons, which can help cover spaying and neutering surgery costs. Pet parents looking for full-coverage can rest easy knowing their policy covers accidents, illnesses, cancer, and prescriptions.
Cat families can round out their coverage with a $26 wellness plan add-on, which covers routine care costs. Similar to other insurers, the wellness plan will pay a predetermined amount toward each treatment. Those looking for spay/neuter coverage will receive $150 toward the surgery. The plan will also cover vaccines, routine blood work, and wellness exams.
24PetWatch is a traditional pet insurance company that offers wellness plan add-ons to cover spay/neuter surgeries for your cat. The routine plan costs $10 per month for $200 of coverage, and the advanced plan costs $25 per month for $400 of coverage. Unfortunately, 24PetWatch’s full-coverage plans typically cost more compared to competitors.
24PetWatch will only pay a set amount toward each wellness procedure. That means the routine plan will only cover $80 of a spay/neuter, and the advanced plan will only pay $100 toward the operation. That might not cover a large portion of the bill, depending on the vet care cost in your area.
The ASPCA is an animal welfare organization that provides services to homeless animals and pet families across the country. It recently launched a pet insurance plan to help pet parents access medical treatments. It offers moderately priced accident and illness coverage with the option to purchase a wellness add-on for $9.95 or $24.95.
ASPCA insurance will cover $150 of a spay/neuter surgery if pet parents purchase the prime preventative plan for $24.95 per month. The cheaper plan does not cover spay/neuter surgery but will still help pay for treatments like the distemper vaccination or heartworm prevention.
#5 Banfield Pet Hospital’s Wellness Plan
The Banfield Pet Hospital’s Wellness Plan is different from competitors because it doesn’t offer standard pet insurance policies. Banfield offers a stand-alone wellness plan, which can help cover spay/neuter surgery. The wellness plans are available to patients of Banfield Pet Hospital, a corporate veterinary chain with over 1,000 locations—800 in PetSmart stores.
Banfield will cover 100 percent of a spay/neuter, as long as it’s performed in a Banfield practice. While that might seem like a good deal, Banfield might not be the most cost-effective option. Plans can cost between $20 and $80 per month, which means you’d be paying the same price as other traditional insurers for less coverage.
How to Easily Afford Neutering Your cat
When considering sterilization for your furry friend, many cat parents have to deal with a lack of accessibility for the procedure. Spay/neuter programs are a great public service, but not all pet parents qualify for the discounted surgery. That’s why so many owners are buying pet insurance policies to alleviate some of the financial burdens from vet bills.
Buying a pet insurance policy can help pay for the entirety of your spay/ neuter bill and is your best shot at affording the operation. These plans can cover up to 100 percent of qualifying vet bills from any licensed veterinarian. Regardless of what you’re looking to cover, you should make sure to compare pet insurance quotes and coverage before making a decision.
Spaying and Neutering Your Cat: Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to neuter your cat?
Neutering surgery refers to the removal of the sex organs from male cats. While the price depends heavily on your cat’s age and the neuter services’ location, male cats usually cost less than females. Pet parents that qualify for low-cost neutering services can pay as little as $20. The standard rate for full-cost neutering is typically around $200.
How much does it cost to spay your cat?
Spay surgeries refer to the removal of the ovaries, uterus, or both from female cats. Sterilizing female cats typically costs more compared to males. Still, the pricing heavily depends on the cat’s age and the spay/neuter clinic location. Low-income families can end up paying as little as $20, but the standard rate for a full-cost spay surgery is between $300 and $500.
Does pet insurance cover spaying and neutering your cat?
Traditional insurance plans help cover accidents and illnesses, which means they won’t cover spay/neuter services. Luckily, many pet insurers now include wellness plan add-ons, which owners can purchase alongside regular policies. Wellness plans can cover the entire surgery or a significant portion of your vet bill.