As we discussed in our last post, preventive care is a strong determining factor in long-term pet health, but for many pet owners, cost is the main obstacle between their pet and regular check-ups. Even though annual examinations can often save money in the long run — by reducing the risk of expensive major procedures and surgeries — the price-point of vet visits remains prohibitive to millions of pet owners. And according to a recent study conducted by Bayer HealthCare, cats seem to suffer much more than dogs when it comes to regular healthcare.
In the recently published Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study III: Feline Findings, more than half of America’s 74 million cats are not getting the care they need. They also see about half as many annual checkups as dogs, even though they’re just as vulnerable to disease. Part of this inequity may be linked to how pets are acquired; while dogs are often purchased from a breeder or pet store, cats are often found or adopted with little or no cost. Thus they’re less likely to come with instructions or recommendations for proper care. Furthermore, cat owners view their pets as more independent. 81% of surveyed cat owners said they believed their pets to be self-sufficient, requiring little to no attention.
Nevertheless, cats need care. Since cat owners are less likely to shell out for vet visits, practitioners need to make access to checkups easy and accessible. Many practices are doing this by offering Wellness Plans, in which pet owners pay a small monthly fee in exchange for access to regular care. In fact, in the very same Bayer study, when asked what would motivate them to take their cat to the vet more often, the second most common answer amongst cat owners was “A Cat Wellness Plan costing $10 – $15 per month.” Many practices offer a very basic plan, but allow the vet and cat owner to review options that the pet owner might find important and thus increasing the overall value of the wellness plan.
These Wellness Plans not only ensure cats are getting the regular preventive care they need, they also create a steady revenue stream for the practice, since pet owners are paying for these plans in monthly installments. They also server as an educational tool helping pet owners understand, at a minimum, the basic care their pets require. Developments in modern wellness plan software not only make it easy to implement and manage these programs, but also customize them to fit the needs of the practice and the client base. Specific plans can be created for kittens, senior cats, newly adopted cats, and more. Just a few clicks of the mouse set the pricing and the benefits, and the plan is ready to go. Now if only it were that easy to make cats want to go to the vet.