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What’s the Cost of Chemotherapy for Cats? 2024 Price Overview

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat treated in vet clinic

What’s the Cost of Chemotherapy for Cats? 2024 Price Overview

Cancer is a very serious disease in cats, and it’s one of the most common causes of death for elderly felines. Chemotherapy is one of the treatment options available for cats. However, it is very expensive and, therefore, often not considered. Luckily, several options have come up over the past few years to make it more affordable, such as pet insurance and financing.

Therefore, while it is still expensive, there are more ways to pay for it. It’s becoming more popular as a result. In general, chemotherapy can cost anywhere from $100 to $600 a dose.

Understanding the cost of chemotherapy can be confusing, as there are often many individual charges. Let’s look at what you can expect to pay for chemotherapy and other factors to consider.

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The Importance of Chemotherapy for Cats

If your cat has cancer, chemotherapy is one of the treatment options. Other treatments include radiation therapy and surgical resection of tumors. The exact treatment for each pet will vary depending on the cat’s kind of cancer and general health state. For different cats, the cancer treatments will vary.

While chemotherapy doesn’t ensure that your cat survives, it is often required to give them a chance. Therefore, if your vet recommends chemotherapy, that should be your cat’s treatment. However, the costs can be prohibitive, as you might expect. Depending on your policy, your pet insurance might cover it, or you might need to find other financing options.

vet nurse holding down the cat on the table in the clinic
Image Credit: Andy Gin, Shutterstock

How Much Does Chemotherapy for Cats Cost?

Chemotherapy itself can cost anywhere from $150 to $600 a dose. However, your pet will need several doses for a full treatment. The exact amount depends on the type of cancer and how your cat responds. The exact fees will also depend on the type of medication, such as whether it is oral or through an IV.

Your feline will also need several other procedures at each treatment visit. For instance, the vet will need to examine the cat, do blood work, and prep them for the chemo. Luckily, these costs are often included in the chemotherapy treatment. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about paying hidden fees.

Of course, your costs also depend on your area to some extent. Urban areas often have higher vet costs overall, while rural areas have lower costs.

However, fees can be hard to pin down without visiting the vet. Sometimes, the vet will recommend surgery and then chemotherapy. In this case, you’ll have to pay for the surgery, but the overall cost of the chemotherapy may be lower as they might require fewer doses.

Additional Costs to Anticipate

There are also several other treatment costs you may need to consider. You’ll often need to travel to an oncologist vet specializing in cancer treatments. These vets are likely different than the vets you have locally. You’ll also need to take off work in many circumstances. Consider the lost wages, too.

Most of the time, your cat will need an exam before treatment begins. This exam isn’t included in the treatment cost, so you’ll need to pay separately. Not all pet insurance companies cover these costs, either.

Very rarely, side effects may occur due to the chemotherapy, and you may need to purchase other medications to counteract these side effects. These extras are not included in the chemotherapy price but can be costly.

Vet giving injection to cat
Image Credit: megaflopp, Shutterstock

How Long Does Chemotherapy Last for Cats?

The length of chemotherapy varies greatly. It depends on the type of cancer and how well your cat responds. Often, the vet will have some idea of the number of treatments needed. However, there is no way to know for sure until your feline begins treatment. Some cats respond quickly and don’t need as many treatments, while others may need extra treatments.

With that said, most cats will need more than one treatment, so you can generally expect to pay for more than one dose. Also consider other fees you may have to pay, such as missed wages from work or travel fees.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Chemotherapy?

Most pet insurance companies do cover chemotherapy. However, pet insurance does not cover preexisting conditions. Therefore, you have to purchase the plan before your cat is diagnosed. Otherwise, the cancer will be preexisting and won’t get covered.

Furthermore, you’ll also have to check the details of your plan. Insurance plans normally have a deductible you’ll need to pay before they pay anything. However, you’ll often meet most deductibles with chemotherapy. Other plans may have a maximum, and after the insurance pays that maximum, they may not pay any more. In this way, you may end up paying some more in the end.

Some plans may not pay for vet exams. You’ll likely need a vet exam at every appointment and before treatment. Unless your plan covers these, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket.

Pet insurance only plays a percentage of the bill, as well. This percentage ranges from 70% to 90%, usually. Therefore, you’ll still have to pay for a percentage of chemotherapy for your feline. It won’t cover everything.

cat with intravenous infusion drip in vet clinic
Image Credit: Yekatseryna Netuk, Shutterstock

Is Chemotherapy for Cats Worth It?

When you know that your beloved cat’s life is at risk, any available treatment to help them recover can be worth it. Chemotherapy for cats is worth a try because many cats recover their life expectancy and quality of life. The number of treatments each cat needs will vary depending on several factors, but knowing that their condition is treatable is a relief.

Speak to your vet about your cat’s prognosis and get an estimation of the number of doses your cat’s case will require. Keep in mind that chemotherapy cancer treatment should not be a binding contract. Consider administering at least 1 to 2 doses of chemotherapy and see how your cat reacts. You can then decide if chemotherapy treatment is worthwhile for your cat and if it’s worth continuing with treatment. Many cats will have a positive response and more energy than before the treatment. Having the opportunity to help your cat recover from a deathly disease is certainly worth it.

Can You Prevent Cancer in Cats?

Because cancer is so deadly and treatment so expensive, many cat owners wonder how they can prevent cancer. But there isn’t definitive proof of what causes cancer, so preventing it is very difficult. Some things we know cause cancer, like exposure to certain chemicals. However, completely avoiding these can be challenging in our modern world. Some other kinds of cancers are genetically predisposed.

Getting your cat spayed or neutered can reduce their risk for certain cancers. Usually, these involve the reproductive organs. The feline leukemia virus has also been linked to several types of cancer. A vaccine is available, so getting your cat vaccinated can reduce their odds of cancer.

Poor nutrition and obesity can cause all sorts of health issues. Luckily, you can prevent this issue by consistently feeding a quality diet and keeping your cat’s health in check. An annual exam can help prevent this issue, as your cat will get weighed regularly. If your cat is obese, it’s essential to work with your vet to lower its weight to a healthy level.

Always keep a close eye on your cat for health differences. It’s important to diagnose cancer early. Therefore, if your cat seems off, or has a new lump, you should take them to the vet. Early diagnoses increase the odds of successful treatment, which may reduce your overall costs due to needing fewer dosages.

cat eating on elevated feeding
Image Credit: Elayne Massaini, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

Chemotherapy can cost anywhere from $100 to $600 a dose. This cost includes everything associated with that visit—for the most part. On each visit, your pet will need to be examined, prepped for chemo, and have blood work done. These procedures are included in this price. Exactly what needs to be done will change the cost of the treatment.

While pet insurance often covers a range of different therapies, not all procedures associated with chemotherapy will be covered. For instance, pet insurance often does not cover vet exams—only treatments and tests. Therefore, you’ll have to pay for some of these costs.


Featured Image Credit: Raihana Asral, Shutterstock

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