How do you manage a cat with a chronic illness?

Having a cat with a chronic illness can have a major impact, both emotionally and financially. Especially if that illness necessitates ongoing health care and medication, you might be left wondering how you will cope.

Following a diagnosis, it can be troubling picturing a future in which your beloved feline is in and out of the vets, having regular medication and on a specialist diet. It is important that you speak to your vet to fully understand the costs and side effects of medication, your pet’s quality of life with treatment, and any life changes that need to be made.


If your cat isn’t insured then the costs of ongoing medication can be huge. Add to this the costs of any medical treatments and check-ups they may need and you’re looking at a hefty sum at the end of each month.

Following a change to the law in 2005, you are no longer restricted in where you can buy your animal medication from. It used to be that only your vet could supply it, but now they are legally obliged to write you out a prescription so you can buy it elsewhere, enabling you to shop around for the best deal.

While they usually charge for this (around £10 is average), it often still works out cheaper when you buy elsewhere.

Side effects:

Side effects are fairly common when taking medication long-term, so it is important to discuss all of these with your vet. Until your cat tries the medication, it is impossible to know how they will react, so a watch-and-see approach is often needed.

If your cat is really struggling on what your vet has prescribed them and you feel that the cons of the medication outweigh the pros, speak to your vet about an alternative as there usually is one.

Quality of life:

Ensuring your cat remains happy and healthy while being maintained on long-term medication is achievable in the majority of cases. However, sometimes it isn’t and quality of life deteriorates despite treatment. If you start to feel this is the case, speak to your vet as early as you can.

Life adjustments:

Diagnosis of a chronic illness often necessitates lifestyle changes as well as medication. A cat with a chronic skin condition, for example, may also benefit from a dietary change, as would a cat with diabetes. Reduced or increased exercise may also be recommended to help with your pet’s condition, as well as specific supplements to work in conjunction with other treatments.

Ultimately, a chronic illness can be hard to face, but your cat is relying on you to help them cope and keep their best interests at heart. You can’t put a price on their health and happiness so, whether it’s budgeting for medication costs, allowing time for more exercise, or spending time researching their condition, your efforts will all be worth it in the end.

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