The Cost of Cuteness. Why Cats Cost Less to Insure Than Dogs


Pet insurance can help cover the costs of veterinary care for dogs and cats. However, there are a few reasons why cat insurance tends to be cheaper than dog insurance on average.

The main factors that contribute to lower insurance rates for cats include:

  • Cats typically have lower veterinary costs over their lifetime compared to dogs.
  • Cats generally live longer than dogs, so the insurance risk period is condensed.
  • There is less variation in health issues across cat breeds versus dog breeds.
  • Cats tend to suffer fewer injuries than more active dogs.

This article will explore these key differences in further detail to explain why cat insurance offers more affordable premiums.

Veterinary Costs

Cats typically have lower veterinary costs over their lifetime compared to dogs. According to research by, the average lifetime veterinary costs for a cat range from $7,000 to $13,000. In contrast, the lifetime veterinary costs for a dog range from $9,000 to $21,000.Source There are several reasons cats generally have lower vet bills:

  • Cats require fewer vaccines than dogs. After kittenhood, cats only need rabies vaccinations every 1-3 years depending on local laws. Dogs require core vaccines for parvo, distemper, adenovirus, and rabies on a regular basis.
  • Cats are less prone to serious injuries that require surgery. Dogs are more active and accident-prone, leading to higher rates of ACL tears, fractures, and other traumatic injuries needing veterinary care.
  • Dental cleanings are cheaper for cats. The smaller size of feline mouths makes their dental procedures quicker and less invasive.
  • Cats have lower rates of chronic illnesses like arthritis, cancer, and heart disease that accrue treatment costs over a lifetime.

While individual cats may end up with high vet bills, overall they have lower lifetime medical costs compared to man’s best friend.

Life Expectancy

Cats generally live longer than dogs, with the average lifespan for cats being 12-18 years and the average lifespan for dogs being 10-13 years [1]. This longer lifespan means that pet insurance costs are spread out over more years for cats than for dogs. There are several factors that contribute to cats often outliving dogs:

  • Cats tend to suffer from fewer genetic diseases and health conditions than some dog breeds which can have breed-specific illnesses.
  • The smaller size of cats puts less strain on their organs compared to larger dogs.
  • Cats are less likely to have serious joint issues and mobility problems in old age than large breed dogs.
  • Outdoor cats face more hazards, but indoor cats are protected from environmental dangers that can impact dog longevity.

The bottom line is cats’ potential for longer lifespans means their healthcare costs are diluted over more years, generally making cats cheaper to insure than dogs over the course of their lives.


Certain dog breeds have higher insurance costs than others. This is because some breeds are prone to more health issues or injuries. For example, larger breeds like Great Danes and Newfoundlands often have more joint and bone problems. Brachycephalic breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs are prone to respiratory issues. Working breeds like German Shepherds and Rottweilers may be predisposed to hip dysplasia. And lively herding breeds like Border Collies have a higher risk for accidents and injuries.

Cats, on the other hand, have much less breed variation than dogs. While there are pedigreed cat breeds, the majority of house cats are domestic shorthairs or longhairs. This means there is less discrepancy in health risks between different cat breeds. An insurer cannot charge substantially more for a Siamese versus a random bred cat, for example. So cats end up being cheaper to insure overall since there are fewer expensive high-risk breeds.



Dogs tend to have more injuries than cats due to their active nature and types of activities they engage in. Dogs enjoy running, jumping, and roughhousing, which can lead to injuries like sprains, strains, fractures, and ruptured ligaments. According to a study by Chen et al. (2016), dog bites accounted for 57.5% of dog-related injuries, while cat scratches made up 77.1% of cat-related injuries.

Cats are less prone to injury because they sleep more than dogs and their play is less physical in nature. Cats mainly scratch and rarely bite or tackle each other when playing. Dogs have higher vet bills for injuries like cruciate ligament tears, hip dysplasia, and fractures from things like jumping off furniture or falling down steps.



Cats tend to have fewer illnesses and health problems compared to dogs (source). Some diseases like cancer are more prevalent and costly to treat in dogs versus cats. According to one source, cancer accounts for 47% of disease-associated deaths in dogs but only 32% in cats (source). The average cost of cancer treatment is $5000 for dogs compared to $3500 for cats (source). Other common illnesses like heart disease, kidney disease, arthritis, and hypothyroidism are also more frequently seen and pricier to manage long-term in dogs versus cats (source).

Since cats are more likely to develop less serious and cheaper to treat illnesses over their lifetime, their pet insurance premiums tend to be lower than coverage for dogs. Insuring a generally healthier pet that faces lower veterinary bills will be less expensive for owners.


Problematic behaviors in dogs may increase insurance premiums. Certain breeds like pit bulls and rottweilers are stereotyped as aggressive, which can raise rates even if the individual dog shows no signs of aggression. Insurance companies often generalize about breeds when assessing risk (Source 1).

In comparison, cats typically exhibit less concerning behaviors like biting or aggression. With fewer problematic behaviors, cats pose less of an insurance risk resulting in lower premiums. Cats are more independent and lower maintenance than dogs, requiring less training and supervision (Source 2). Their mellow demeanor makes them cheaper to insure.


The cost of training a dog can contribute to their higher insurance rates compared to cats. According to sources, professional dog training costs on average $30-50 per group class and $45-120 per private session [1]. In the first year alone, total training costs can range from $1,500-$2,000 including private sessions and obedience classes [2]. These expenses aren’t really applicable to cats, who are more independent and typically don’t require formal training. Since dogs often need more training over their lifetime to reinforce commands and proper behavior, especially service dogs, their care ends up costing more which translates to higher insurance premiums.


Spaying and neutering dogs and cats can significantly reduce pet insurance costs over the lifetime of the pet. Neutering or spaying removes the possibility of diseases and medical issues associated with the reproductive organs, which reduces potential claims. According to Nationwide Pet Insurance, spayed female dogs have a 1 in 4 chance of developing mammary tumors if left unspayed, while neutered male cats are 3 times less likely to develop prostate cancer than intact male cats.

In fact, Nationwide’s data shows fixed pets had lower total invoice costs than unaltered pets. For dogs, neutered males had invoice costs that were 18% lower and spayed females had invoice costs that were 23% lower. For cats, neutered males had invoice costs that were 46% lower and spayed females had invoice costs that were 40% lower (

While the spay/neuter surgery itself is typically not covered by pet insurance, the long-term savings on potential health issues makes insuring fixed pets less expensive overall.


In summary, there are several key reasons why cats are generally cheaper to insure than dogs.

The main factors include cats having lower veterinary costs, longer lifespans, less predisposition for injuries and illnesses, more independent behavior requiring less training, and lower cost spay/neuter procedures. Cats tend to have fewer genetic disorders and breed-specific conditions needing expensive care. Their smaller size also means less medication dosages and overall treatment expenses.

The takeaway is that cats’ characteristics and traits make their healthcare simpler and more affordable overall. With reduced risks, costs, illnesses, and accidents, cats present less financial liability for pet insurance companies. By understanding the differences between cat and dog ownership, pet parents can better manage costs and choose the right insurance for their beloved furry companions.

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