Cats Protection Inverurie
£1bn bill to keep pets purring


BRIDGET Jones-type singletons who turn to cats rather than men for companionship may need to give up on the booze and cigarettes to help pay the costs of their furry friends.

Research by online pollster You Gov found that one in three single women owns a cat and they spend a collective £1 billion a year on meeting their every whim.

The individual bill for everything from food, litter, annual vaccinations, toys, cat-sitters, cattery fees and insurance adds up to £1,043 a year, according to Churchill Insurance, which commissioned the research.

With cats living about 13 years on average, that puts the lifetime bill at about £13,500 without taking account of inflation. But the bills could rocket for those who opt out of buying insurance.

Visits to the vet can be expensive. If a cat needs an MRI scan, for example, the owner might have to pay £1,000. Churchill says the average claim on cat insurance is £300.

For some owners who have already shelled out a fortune on their pet, the thought of high insurance premiums could be galling. Those living in London and the South-East can be faced with annual premiums of £150 to £200 or more for the best policies and the excess per claim is likely to be £35 to £80. Over a lifetime, the premiums could reach £1,850.

Singleton Deborah Phillips, 24, a dance teacher from New Barnet, Hertfordshire, did not hesitate to take out a plan from Churchill for her seven-month-old black and white cat Munkin.

Deborah bought Munkin for a token £10 from a friend, but soon found that the spending had only just begun. 'There were injections to pay for and I had him neutered and fitted with a microchip for identification,' she says. 'I also bought him everything under the sun, including a four-foot high scratching post and a proper cat toilet with a roof and cat flap.

'I also shopped around for insurance because I didn't want to risk not being covered if something went wrong.'

Finding the right policy can be difficult. Some plans, for example, will only pay out for a single condition for a year, while other providers such as Pinnacle, Marks & Spencer and Pet Plan will pay out as long as the condition lasts.

Some plans will also include benefits a client might not want.

Insurers may offer extras such as death benefit, bereavement counselling for owners and cover for reward money for a stolen or lost pet. Some will also pay for psychological treatment for a pet or homeopathic treatments.

Pet owners should also pay close attention to the terms of policies. Cheaper plans may mean having to pay between 25 and 35% of expensive treatments. So buyers should not choose insurance on price alone.

Finally, most insurers will offer first-time cover to cats up to ten years old, though a few have a younger cut- off point.

Once the pet is already insured, though, most will continue cover, so long as owners renew each year. But premiums may rise with age.