Pet Health Insurance: Figo vs Pets Best and a Referral

You guys!

I think MomFOD is up to something. She took out a policy, on each of us. It covers “accidents.” I’m concerned. Send help.

– Mrs. Peabody

Alright, let’s stop right there. Mrs. P, you are correct, to an extent. Yes, I did take out a policy on each of you. And yes, it does cover “accidents,” but those are real accidents, like if you slip off the back of the toilet and sprain your little tortie paw. Or if Louie, in all of his brazen clumsiness, tries to follow Pinkle up into her nook and crashes back down to the earth on a day where I am not there to catch him. I decided that, with six pets, it was time to stop playing the odds game and minimize some risk in my life. I decided to get health insurance for all of you.

If you, reader, are considering getting health insurance for your pets, perhaps I can answer a few questions for you. In my case, I have six animals, ages 2 through 18. One of them is going to malfunction, there’s just no way around the odds. For the longest time, I thought it was going to be too expensive to insure everyone. I contemplated not insuring Niles at age 18, thinking he might even be rejected by the companies, but after some in-depth research, I found a solution to my needs. (Also, my heart just wouldn’t let me exclude him. He’s still good!)

Niles. Still good.

I have managed to insure all of my lovies for approximately $80 a month. It’s more than my cell phone bill but less than my heat in the winter. Running the numbers, yes I could save $80 a month for pet emergencies (and I do, as a matter of course) but after one year, that will only amount to $1,000, which could be wiped out with one swift poke in the eye (The Epic Battle of Niles and Rocky, 2013.) 

The solution for me was to find not one but TWO insurance companies, one that my research told me was best for insuring younger cats (PetsBest) and another that was cheapest for insuring older pets with no age limit (Figo.) I also only chose from companies that were consistently rated in the top 10 and came recommended by my vet. I also got complete quotes from roughly six companies. After much consideration, I have my three youngest with PetsBest and my three oldest with Figo. Here is my impression thus far of both of them:

Ease of sign up: Pets Best, hands down. They do not require any health check ups in order to sign up or file for services if illness or accident occurs. Figo requires your pet have had an checkup within the last 12 months OR whatever your next claim is will be considered a pre-existing condition. Not ideal, especially when you have three healthy cats whose 12-month checkups were 12-months and 3 weeks ago.

Payment: Pets Best, again, paws down. They allowed me to choose from monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual payment options. There is a $2 fee per payment, so you can save $24 per year by paying annually.

Figo did NOT have a smooth payment system. I was allowed either monthly or annually, nothing in between. In addition, they charge each pet as a separate charge, so they wanted a $2 fee PER PET per month to use a credit card, which meant I had to give them my bank account information. If their rates hadn’t been so low, I might have reconsidered based on that alone.

Use in emergencies: Figo wins here. They claim that if your pet REQUIRES a life-saving, emergency treatment, they will waive the deductible and co-pay. I hope to never have to test this.

Waiting period:  Tie. Both companies have a 14-day waiting period for illnesses and 5-day for accidents. Accidents caused by human cruelty are not covered by either, and we certainly hope that no one would ever, ever do that.

Pre-Existing Conditions: Neither will cover these. In fact, no pet insurance company covers these and likely won’t unless Obama steps in again, cod willing. If your pet already has a health record with a pre-existing illness on it, it will not be covered going further.

Best for young cats: Pets Best. I was able to insure three cats under age 4 for about $10 per month with a $1000 deductible and 90% coverage.

Best for older pets, including dogs: Figo. I was able to insure three pets, ages 12 through 18, for roughly $15 each per month with a $1000 deductible and 70% coverage.

Yes, my deductibles are high. I decided that, in order to strategically minimize risk, I would put aside a $1000 emergency fund and have the insurance to cover between 70%-90% of anything above that. If someone swallows a sock, it won’t bankrupt me and I won’t have to skimp on care for the loves of my life.

YOU may only have one pet and want something more substantial for coverage. These and other companies will include exam fees and even wellness care, but I didn’t find that to be cost-effective in my case. If you want a full package with a $200 deductible per year and high coverage co-insurance, it’ll probably run you somewhere around $40 per pet per month for a middle-aged pet. Each company has different rates.

Let me know if you have questions and feel free to post your experience with pet health insurance in the comments!

And, if you are interested in Pets Best, they gave me a referral code and said I was free to post it on my blog. If you decide to sign up, we’d be pleased and grateful if you would use our code. It’ll get us a $25 Amazon gift card so I can afford to bubble wrap everything in the house to keep Louie from having to use the insurance.

Love,

Alana.

 

**FTC DISCLAIMER:  This is not a sponsored post. I was given no financial compensation and these opinions are my own. If you use the referral link and sign up for a policy with Pets Best, I will get a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.**

FLUTD: Urinary Problems in Male Cats

This weekend, I decided to sleep late. Louie came into the room and gave me some snuggles. I got up, cleaned the litter boxes, and watched Louie be the first to use the big one, not uncommon for him to want to be the primo pee-er after a scooping. Then he used the kitchen one. Then he went back to the big one. This was concerning.

The Louie in question.

I crept up on him and saw that he was only getting a few drops of urine out at a time. Female cats can also get this and it should be also treated, but vets tend to see the issue in male cats as more urgent. In male cats, it may only be a few hours before their urethra gets blocked and they go into kidney failure. I called my vet.

Since it was Saturday, both vets I keep on hand were closing soon. Neither would see him. They said it might turn out to be a hospitalization and he was going to have to go to the ER. And so, we packed the little guy up (me and “the dude”) and drove him to the ER in Indiana. Slightly farther but better care. (This is where I discovered the Humane Indiana Resale shop I wrote about in my minimalism post)

After a brief exam (his bladder was small and not hard), they concluded that he was not yet blocked, but that he did have blood in his urine and was at risk of blocking in the next few weeks.

Señor Pantalones has been stressing Louie out with his extra energy, high-speed attacks, so I needed to minimize this since stress could be a cause of idiopathic FLUTD in young cats (Idiopathic being there is no known cause). I was told to keep Louie stress-free (a tall order for a former feral) and hydrated.

Knowing that my blogger friend Connie over at Tails from the Foster Kittens has had this experience several times with her similarly-furred friend Jack, I reached out to her to find some possible solutions. She asked him what his urine pH was. Well, I had no idea so I called the emergency vet. They said it was 5. Normal is 6.0 – 6.5. So, too acidic. It seems that could have been caused by diet, except Louie is on a raw diet, high in protein, which should balance his urine pH appropriately. I did notice his fur was a bit flaky lately and Connie mentioned it could also be caused by dehydration. I noted that I had given him some extra dry food the last two days in a row. Perhaps that was it, since that seemed to be what caused it for Pinkle on her last occurrence. Connie also suggested Corn Silk, something I hadn’t heard of prior. Upon some research, it seems it is used to calm irritated bladders, as a mild diuretic, and to stop dogs from wetting the bed. I grabbed some from Amazon for a few dollars. The vet also recommended Cosequin, also available from Amazon, for slightly more dollars.

So far, Louie seems to be doing ok. He did not want to be sequestered, but I did keep Pants away from him while I wasn’t there to supervise. He’s been getting his corn silk and soup for meals (I like Honest Kitchen Prowl with extra water added) and making me feed him by hand. I am also giving him extra helpings of Answers raw Goat’s Milk. It’s their favorite.

The vet told me to look for signs of blockage that include yowling, pain, lying on his side, lethargy, or a hard bladder. Seeing as he’s been playing tag with he laser pointer, I’ll assume he is OK for now.

And, per usual, my favorite vet Dr. C. called us on Tuesday to make sure Louie is ok and doesn’t need further help. (If you find a vet like this, keep her.)

If your cats, male or female, are showing signs of distress in the litter box and it has never happened before, it’s worth a call to your vet, especially if your cat is a male. It could be a serious emergency. I am not a vet and do not play one on TV, either. Please always consult your vet about anything you read here before trying it out on your pets.

Love and Healthy Pee,

Alana.

Further reading:

Tails from the Foster Kitten’s piece of Jack and struvite blockage

AVMA article on FLUTD

An Honest Kitchen piece on natural urinary remedies

(This article was not sponsored by anyone. Any brands mentioned here are mentioned because we use and like them.)

Minimalism, Pets, and Finding Freedom

You Guys!

Mom is giving away all our stuff! Please help. I need my stuff.

Love,

Mrs. Peabody

Just kidding. Mrs. Peabody didn’t say that because I don’t know of any cat that “needs” stuff. Sure, we have some really cute toys here: reindeer from Christmas, a little lobster that Louie doesn’t play with much anymore, a blanket made by my grandma to keep Mrs. P warm when she was a baby. How many of these emotions placed upon these items, though, are the cats’? And how many are just mine?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the things I have in my life. I look around at my house and, though it’s tidy, I sometimes feel weighed down by the number of objects that are in it. Every object requires care, even if I don’t really care about it. I add water to my piano humidifier system (five minutes), I dust the shelves but have to move fifteen knick knacks first and then put them back (fours minutes), I need to vacuum but have to move the screen that’s on the carpet to shield the twenty cat toys on the rug (45 seconds). The more I started realizing that items are not just passive things that sit around, but that they require monetary investment followed by time, upkeep, and energy, the more I wanted to pare down. I want to keep only the items that are worth my time.

This minimalism concept has been growing in my thoughts for awhile. Recently, I was offered a job in Los Angeles. A dream job, really, but for several reasons, I turned it down. One of those reasons was that I had no idea how I would fit me, six animals, and all my stuff into a small enough place that I could actually afford. And right then, the seed of “why” was planted. Shortly after I made that decision, I watched a documentary called “The Minimalists,” about two friends who gave up their high-paying jobs, put all their things in boxes, and kept what they needed. Going forward, they brought into their lives only what had value, whether that be a necessary tool for their craft (a laptop) or more time with their loved ones. Searching further, I found their website and read more about their journey and ideas. I recommend spending some time there, if you have it.

In their account, they decided to pack up everything they owned and only keep what they used in ten days. I will admit that I’m not going to go that far, but I am looking at everything and asking “why?” Why am I keeping this? Why do I need this? I’m also wondering “Can this benefit someone else?” and “Can this do more good elsewhere?”

Louie taking advantage of the donation box.

So, I started small. I found a pair of earrings I never wear, given to me as a gift by a student over a decade ago. I gave them to a current student who recently had her ears pierced and the smile on her face was absolutely worth it. Then I tackled the five boxes of books in my attic. I used to have a room full of shelves. I called it my library and I dreamt of the day I would have that again. But now, it doesn’t suit my lifestyle. I opened the boxes and pulled out just the books I loved, ones I have read more than once and may read again. I kept those. The others went into the neighborhood library box on my street, some will be sold, and many I will donate. I find that it’s easier to donate when you have a good cause. Since my cause is almost always animal-related, I’ve decided to donate to the Humane Indiana Resale shop. Everything they sell benefits their rescue work for homeless pets. Suddenly, giving away that rarely used panini press doesn’t seem so painful.

Thus far, I have thrown out one full trash bag and one full recycling bin, given away roughly fifty other items, and have two full boxes ready to donate. Clearly, I will NOT be giving away my animals, but I CAN give myself permission to give away a few of their unnecessary items.  Giving feels good. It’s lightening my burden and making me nicer to people. I already see some of the benefits and I’m not even halfway finished with part one.

With Love,

Alana.

P.S. As I was writing this, I heard the sounds of Pinkle opening the pet toy drawer behind the couch.  She crawled in, and out of all the thirty or so toys in that drawer, she found the one little wooly ball that she loves best, and she brought it to me to play. And that is the one we will keep.