Dear Doctor: Unable to Afford the Surgery


Q. My cat needs a $3,000 operation, and I don’t have the cash or that much credit available on my credit card. I should have bought pet health insurance, but obviously I’m not going to be able to get it now, after the need for a surgery has been found. Do I have any options whatsoever?

Name withheld

Dear Sir or Madam,

A. First, know that you are not alone. Many animal lovers like you adopt a pet and then find themselves in an untenable financial situation to save their cat somewhere down the road. Here are some possible options.

Carecredit healthcare finance. This is a credit card for health expenses that can be used for pets as well as people. The company offers no-interest plans for bills that are paid in full within a certain number of months, sometimes as many as 24 months depending on the plan, which does away with the need for coming up with a lump sum. It also has loans for people who need more than a set number of months, with lower interest rates than traditional credit cards. Of course, you need a good credit rating to be eligible, but not having paid off your current credit card won’t necessarily disqualify you.

Angel funds. These are a possibility for people who can’t afford to take care of their cat in an emergency situation even if they are given the option to spread out their payments. The Humane Society of the United States ( lists about 20 organizations that provide financial assistance to pet owners in need. They also list angel funds state by state. Type “Are you having trouble affording your pet?” into the search bar.

Your local shelter. A shelter in your locale may be able to refer you to a subsidized veterinary clinic or a veterinary assistance program. Look in your Yellow Pages under “animal shelter,” “animal control,” or “humane society.


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