Cat and kitten insurance: A guide to finding the best cover for your cat

Cat peeps out from behind tree.
Photo by Koen Eijkelenboom on Unsplash.

Just like us, our feline friends sometimes get sick and need looking after. The difference is us humans have a national healthcare system to help us pay medical bills, whereas animals do not. 

When cats fall ill, the Australian government won’t help out with their vet bills and those bills sure can add up. Luckily, pet insurance is available for cats and if you have it, it can help minimise the costs that come with going to the vet.

If you are considering taking out cat insurance, you’ll probably want to do some research on how it works first. This is where our handy guide comes in, as we’ve attempted to answer all your questions on cat insurance.

What is cat insurance?

Cat insurance is basically health insurance for cats. It’s pet insurance tailored to meet the needs of our purring pals should they get sick or injured.

As with all forms of insurance, the idea is to provide some financial support in case something goes wrong. Cat insurance specifically is designed to help lower expensive vet bills. 

What does cat insurance cover?

Exactly what cat insurance covers will depend on a few factors. These include the insurance company you opt for and the level of cover you pay for, for your cat - plus any terms, conditions, exclusions and sub-limits that may apply. Different insurance companies will have different cover options and perks available.

Generally speaking though, cat owners will often have around three different levels of cover to choose from:

  • Basic
  • essential, and 
  • comprehensive. 

Cover offered will often be for things like accidents and illnesses, emergency boarding, prescription medicine, testing etc.

Routine care for things such as teeth cleaning, vaccinations and check-ups can sometimes be available with a comprehensive policy or as an optional extra.

Compare cat insurance policies

Want to start comparing cat insurance policies now? Here are just a few examples of pet insurance policies available in Australia right now that have been reviewed by Mozo. Whether or not these policies will provide the best level of cover for your kitty, will depend on your particular situation and budget.

Knose Pet Insurance*
  • Mozo Experts Choice Pet Insurance Provider of the Year 2021^
  • $25,000 annual benefit limit
  • 5% discount with Mozo!

Award-winning pet insurance provider Knose offers cover for both companion cats and dogs. The policy itself comes with a $25,000 annual benefit limit, $0 excess and the option to choose to have either 70%, 80% or 90% of eligible vet bills covered. Accidental injury and illness cover are included, as well as emergency boarding and cover for chronic conditions. Waiting periods range from as short as 1 to 14 days for accidental injury and illness cover to as long as 6 months for behavioural problems and specified conditions. Optional extras include dental illness cover, behavioural problems cover and alternative therapies cover. Finally, Knose is currently offering a 5% discount exclusively when you sign up through Mozo! To receive the discount either click the ‘go to site’ button above or enter MOZO5 at the Knose checkout (T&Cs apply to all discounts).

Pet Insurance Australia Pet Insurance*
  • Multiple awards for exceptional value^
  • Choice of excess
  • Currently offering two months free cover!

Pet Insurance Australia scooped up not one, but two 2021 Mozo Experts Choice Awards for Exceptional Value^! It’s not hard to see why the Mozo judges were impressed with this insurance provider either. It offers three pet insurance policies: Pet Essentials, Comprehensive Cover and Major Medical Cover. Pet Essentials comes with $0 excess, while Comprehensive Cover and Major Medical Cover have the option to choose either $0, $100 or $200 excess. Both Comprehensive Cover and Major Medical Cover cover as much as 80% of eligible vet bills and offer annual benefit limits of $15,000 and $15,145 respectively. All three policies include accidental injury and illness cover. Waiting periods range from 0 days for specified accidental injuries to 30 days for illnesses. Both the Comprehensive and Major Medical policies offer cover for cruciate ligament conditions, although it should be noted that there is a 6 month waiting period for this. Lastly, to sweeten the deal, Pet Insurance Australia is currently offering two months worth of cover for free! (T&Cs apply to all discounts).

Budget Direct Pet Insurance*
  • 15% online discount on first year’s premium (T&Cs apply)
  • Up to 80% of eligible vet bills reimbursed
  • 5% multi-pet discount (T&Cs apply)

Budget Direct’s Cat Insurance policy covers up to 80% of eligible vet bills and comes with an overall annual benefit limit of $12,000. The policy includes accidental injury and illness cover, plus cover for surgery, cruciate ligament conditions and chronic conditions. Waiting periods apply for cover, these range from as short as 2 days for accidental injury cover to as long as 30 days for illness cover and 6 months for certain conditions. Lastly, if you like discounts you’re in for a treat! Budget Direct is currently offering a 15% online discount, as well as a 5% multi-pet discount (T&Cs apply to both discounts). The 15% discount applies to the first year’s premium, when you purchase a new cat insurance policy online. The multi-pet insurance as you might have guessed, is if you have more than one eligible furr-baby to insure with Budget Direct.

*Terms, conditions, exclusions, limits and sub-limits may apply to any of the insurance products shown on the Mozo website. These terms, conditions, exclusions, limits and sub-limits could affect the level of benefits and cover available under any of the insurance products shown on the Mozo website. Please refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and the Target Market Determination on the provider's website for further information before making any decisions about an insurance product.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Pet Insurance Awards

Remember to read through the PDS (product disclosure statement) for all three policies listed above to make sure you are fully aware of any terms and conditions and sub-limits that may apply. A copy of the PDS can be found on the individual insurance providers’ websites.

What types of cat insurance are there in Australia?

The way cat insurance is sold and packaged by insurance providers can vary widely. While some pet insurance providers will offer one policy plus optional extras, others may have three different levels of cat insurance to choose from. Some insurance companies even offer indoor cat insurance, for kitties who don’t wander around outside.

Broadly speaking, these are the types of cat insurance you will find offered most often:

Accidental injury cover

Accident injury cover is often the most basic type of cat insurance providers will offer. As the name suggests, this type of insurance provides cover for injuries caused as the result of an accident. Examples of accidents often covered include: motor vehicle incidents, burns or electrocution and insect bites. 

Accidents covered and the definition of accidents may vary from policy to policy. With this in mind, we would definitely recommend reading the and PDS thoroughly before signing on the dotted line.

Accidental injury and illness cover

As well as covering accidents, this type of cat insurance also offers protection for certain illnesses. Covered illnesses can be cancer, skin conditions, eye or ear conditions, tick paralysis and so forth. 

Exactly what illnesses are covered will depend on the individual policy. It is also worth noting that with most policies, around a 30 day waiting period may apply for illnesses. This means that you will have to have had the policy for at least 30 days to be able to claim for an illness.

Another thing to keep in mind is that pre-existing conditions are often not covered. So if your kitty has a health condition that predates the policy, you most likely won’t be able to claim for any treatment associated with it. Other illnesses may be excluded, so again make sure you read the PDS properly before making a decision.

Comprehensive cover

As mentioned above, most often pet insurance providers will offer some form of higher-end, comprehensive cover. 

This isn’t always called comprehensive cover per se, sometimes it is called premium, superior or even ultimate cover. The idea is the same though, that is a policy that usually offers the most amount of cover possible with that particular insurance provider. 

The main differences with a comprehensive policy are most often the annual benefit limit and percentage of eligible vet bills covered. Sub-limits for specific cover may also be higher with a comprehensive cat insurance policy. Some providers may even include routine care cover, although generally this can only be accessed as an optional extra.

What is indoor cat insurance?

As so many people have indoor cats these days, a lot of insurance providers actually offer indoor cat insurance. Indoor cat insurance is specifically designed to provide cover for cats that do not roam around outside. It is generally more cost effective than regular cat insurance, as it takes into account that indoor cats are less likely to be involved in accidents outdoors, such as road incidents.

Some providers that offer indoor cat insurance include Bow Wow Meow and petinsurance.com.au.

What is the best cat insurance for kittens?

Most insurance providers will not offer cat insurance for very young kittens. Generally cats will have to be at least eight weeks old to be eligible for insurance. 

For younger cats specifically, accidental injury cover might be worth considering. Young kittens can be more prone to getting into scrapes than their elders, especially if they are getting used to a new home. Really when it comes to it, there are a fair few factors to think about when choosing a pet insurance policy. Ultimately what works best for your pet, will come down to what matters most to you and your financial situation.

How are cat insurance premiums calculated?

When an insurance provider works out the cost of an insurance premium, they are basically trying to figure out how likely that person is to make a claim. If the likelihood of making a claim is high, the insurance premium will be high and vice versa.

For cat insurance specifically, the insurance provider will try to find out how likely it is that the kitty will wind up at the vet. Some factors the insurance providers usually take into account include:

  • Age: Just like people, the older a cat gets the more susceptible they will be to developing certain medical conditions. For this reason, as your cat’s age goes up - so might their insurance premium.
  • Breed or pedigree: Some cat breeds may be more likely to develop certain conditions, so insurance providers may take into account the breed and pedigree.
  • Where you live: If you live in a busy, built up area, there may be a higher risk of your cat being involved in an accident.
  • Desexed status: Your cat’s desexed status may affect how much their insurance premium costs.
  • Medical history: An insurance provider may ask to review your cat’s medical history, to see if they are prone to certain illnesses.

As well as these factors, the policy you choose will also affect the premium you pay. For example, an accidental injury only policy is likely to come with a lower premium price than an accidental injury and illness cover plan.

What are the key factors to compare with cat insurance?

Here’s a quick rundown of some important factors to take into consideration when comparing cat insurance plans.

  • Price: Although it is important to get the right type of cover, it is also understandable to be restricted by a budget. The budget you have will probably determine whether you opt for comprehensive cover, or are more strategic and take out accidental injury only insurance instead. 
  • Waiting periods: A waiting period will apply with most cat insurance policies. This is a certain amount of time that you will have to wait from signing up to the insurance plan, to making a claim. Waiting periods can vary depending on the insurance provider and type of cover, they can range anywhere from 1 to 30 days or longer.
  • Benefit percentage: You will come across this term when comparing cat insurance policies - it basically means the percentage of an eligible vet bill, covered by the insurance plan. Most often pet insurance providers will offer an 80% benefit percentage, although some may give the option to choose from 70% to 90%.
  • Annual benefit limits: The annual benefit limit is the maximum amount the insurance provider will payout in one insurance period. The annual benefit limit can vary significantly depending on the policy. It should also be noted that individual cover events may be subject to sub-limits as well.
  • Sub-limits: As well as the overall annual benefit limit mentioned above, most cat insurance policies will have sub-limits that apply to certain conditions and cover events. For instance, cat insurance providers may put a cap on cover for things like treatment for cruciate ligament conditions, skin conditions and emergency boarding.
  • Excess: If you have any other type of insurance, you will know that the excess is the amount you must pay towards a bill, before the insurance kicks in. The good news with cat insurance is that a lot of providers offer a $0 excess only. This means eligible claims will automatically be covered, no matter how small they are.
  • Exclusions: What is not covered with a policy is just as important as what is covered. When it comes to cat insurance there are a number of common exclusions and possibly even some unexpected exclusions that may apply. Make sure you know what the exclusions are before signing up.

How to find the best cat insurance

While no one cat insurance policy will be the best for all cats in Australia, it might still be possible to find a plan that works best for you and your kitty. One way you might be able to do just that is by checking out the winners of the 2021 Mozo Experts Choice Pet Insurance Awards^. 

Started in 2014, the Mozo Experts Choice Awards are designed to highlight financial products in Australia that offer either exceptional value or exceptional quality. The aim of the Pet Insurance Awards specifically is to help highlight cat and dog insurance available in Australia that we believe offer pet owners either value for money or generous, quality cover.

Check out some of the major 2021 winners below. 

  • Knose: Knose scooped up not one, but three 2021 Mozo Experts Choice Awards for Pet Insurance! As well as winning awards for Exceptional Value Accident and Illness Pet Insurance and Exceptional Quality Pet Insurance, Knose was also crowned Pet Insurance Provider of the Year 2021. 
  • RACQ: Queensland based insured provider RACQ won drumroll...four 2021 Mozo Experts Choice Awards for Pet Insurance! The insurance provider was named Queensland’s Best Pet Insurance Provider for 2021 and won awards for Exceptional Value Accident and Illness Pet Insurance, Exceptional Value Comprehensive Pet Insurance and Exceptional Quality Pet Insurance.
  • RAC: RAC also had an impressive four wins in the 2021 Mozo Experts Choice Awards. The WA insurance provider was named WA’s Best Pet Insurance Provider and received awards for Exceptional Value Accident and Illness Pet Insurance, Exceptional Value Comprehensive Pet Insurance and Exceptional Quality Pet Insurance.

Want to find out more about the awards? Read the full 2021 Mozo Experts Choice Awards for Pet Insurance methodology report for more information, including a full list of winners.

More FAQs about cat insurance

What cats are eligible for cat insurance?

Sadly not all cats will be eligible for cat insurance. Generally cats younger than 8 or 9 weeks or older than 9 years won’t be eligible to sign up to a new policy. Some insurance companies will provide older cats with insurance, but only if they already held the policy before a certain age.

Any illnesses a cat may have had before signing up to the policy will also not usually be covered. This is called a pre-existing condition and most insurance providers do not cover them. Illnesses developed during an insurance waiting period, may also count as a pre-existing condition.

How much does cat insurance cost?

How much cat insurance costs will depend on a few factors. Some of these factors can include where you live, your kitty’s age, their medical history and what insurance policy you choose. For example, a policy with basic cover is likely to come with a lower insurance premium than a policy with comprehensive cover. Or, as an older cat has a higher chance of developing certain health conditions, they will probably cost more to insure than a younger cat.

When taking out cat insurance, pet insurance providers will ask a number of questions about you and your cat and from these provide a quote for how much the premium will cost. You can gather quotes from multiple providers to get an idea of how much cat insurance might cost.

How much does it cost to own a cat in Australia?

According to the RSPCA, the average yearly cost of owning a cat could be around $880. That is after the initial extra costs that may apply when you first adopt them. 

Some approximate costs the RSPCA gives are:

  • $50 to $100 for a carry cage and bed
  • $23 to $201 for council registration
  • $115 to $300 for desexing (females may cost more than males)
  • $370 or over for food and bowls
  • $170 to $200 for kitten vaccinations
  • $60 for microchipping
  • $130 to $180 for tray and litter

According to the RSPCA the first year with your cat could cost around $1,150 to $3,570. Of course just keep in mind that these costs could vary depending on the individual cat and what state or territory they live in.

What is the average vet cost for a cat?

According to the RSPCA, annual vaccinations and veterinary costs in Australia could be around $80 for a cat. On top of this, flea and worming treatments can be around $100 to $150. This is for preventative care. Costs for things such as surgery and cancer treatments can climb into the hundreds and even thousands.

Is it worth getting cat insurance?

The idea of cat insurance is to provide some financial support to cat owners, should their beloved feline fall ill. Without cat insurance, as a cat owner you will bear the risk of being left with a big vet bill, should anything unfortunate happen to your fur-baby.

Ultimately though, whether cat insurance is a worthy investment for you, will depend on your individual situation and budget. You will really have to weigh up the cost of insurance premiums against potentially hefty vet bills.

Do cat insurance costs vary by breed?

It is highly likely that cat insurance costs will vary by breed. This is because some cat breeds are more susceptible to certain health conditions. Some can even inherit particular diseases. 

For example, according to the International Cat Care organisation, Abyssinian cats can suffer from the inherited disease ‘pyruvate kinase deficiency.’ This disease can lead to the cat developing anaemia. Meanwhile, the organisation says that there is limited information about the health conditions that other cats might have, such as the Australian Mist cat.

Cat insurance providers will likely take all this information into account, when figuring out the price of an individual cat’s insurance premium.

Do waiting periods apply to cat insurance?

Yes, most cat insurance policies will have waiting periods. Typically these can range anywhere from one day to six months. Generally speaking, shorter waiting periods apply for accidental injury, while waiting periods for illness cover can be as long as 30 days.

Waiting periods for certain conditions, such as cruciate ligament condition, can be as long as six months. We recommend reading the PDS in full, to see what waiting periods apply for a particular policy.

Are there age limits for cat insurance?

Yes, age limits do generally apply for cat insurance. Most insurance providers will not insure cats younger than 8 or 9 weeks, or older than 9 years. Although, some insurance providers will insure older cats, if they were signed up to an insurance policy before they turned 9. 

So in other words, if you get insurance for your kitty when they’re young and keep paying it each year, you might just be able to still have insurance cover for them when they’re a bit older and wiser. Just keep in mind that the insurance premium may go up, as your cat ages.

Does cat insurance cover vaccinations?

Vaccinations are not generally included in most standard, cat insurance policies. A number of cat insurance providers will offer routine/preventative care as an optional extra. Routine care can provide some cover for things like desexing, microchipping, teeth cleaning, vaccinations and prescription diets. Although just keep in mind that any optional extras you add on to your policy, will up the overall premium price.