An ultrasound paints a picture of inside your cat's body so your vet can get her back on the healthy road. While your kitty might not like the procedure, your bank account probably will hate it more. However, sometimes you can save yourself a bit of cash.
Cost Versus X-ray
Your kitty's at the vet's, hiding in the corner while the scary doctor is talking to you about treatment options. More times than not, he'll mention x-rays while talking about an ultrasound. An x-ray sometimes can determine what's wrong with your little feline, which means you won't have to pony up the cash for the usually more expensive ultrasound. Ultrasounds generally are more expensive because they require a larger investment upfront. However, as PetPlace.com notes, x-rays sometimes can require anesthesia and they don’t reveal as much as an ultrasound, which means your kitty may have to get an ultrasound anyhow.
Limited or Complete
Let's say your kitty's having trouble urinating. Your vet might want to do a complete ultrasound of your cat's abdomen to check for any problems aside from the usual suspects of the bladder and kidneys. It's a good idea, but it's also usually more expensive than a limited ultrasound, which targets a specific area, like the bladder. So, if you cannot afford a complete ultrasound, your vet might recommend a limited ultrasound of a specific organ or area he thinks is the problem maker. The problem is that if nothing shows up, you'll most likely need to proceed with the complete ultrasound.
Where You Go
Keep in mind you sometimes can limit the total visit cost if you have a referral, or you have a non-emergency hospital or even a local vet's office equipped with an ultrasound. Emergency hospitals usually are more expensive, because they deal with those unfortunate puppies and kitties who need medical attention immediately. That often results in a significantly larger examination fee. If you must go to a new clinic for the ultrasound, your regular vet can give you a referral, which sometimes trims down that fee. Depending on where you live, you may have no other option except to visit an emergency hospital or a specialist where the referral will not cut down the exam fee.
Tell Your Vet Everything
You never want to play around with your kitty's health, but you also don't want to subject her to perfectly safe but sometimes frightening ultrasounds if your vet can attribute the problem to something else. Let's say your cat is taking prednisolone for two weeks. One of the common side effects is that she'll be slurping up water and visiting the litter box to pee way more often. If that's the problem she's been having, make sure to tell your vet what medicine she's on. If there are no other symptoms aside from the common side effects, he may see no need for an ultrasound. However, never take matters into your own hands. Always consult your vet.
Pet insurance can take the money you paid for an ultrasound and stuff it right back into your pockets. Similar to health insurance for people, pet insurance usually comes with a maximum yearly claim amount, deductible and monthly premium. The premium varies depending on your kitty's age and existing health issues. You can find out about different insurance plans from your vet and by searching for them online.
What to Expect
At the end of the day, what you pay for an ultrasound depends on a bunch of variables. While national average figures don't exist, you can get an idea of how much you'll need to deduct from your bank account based on what's going to be involved. A limited ultrasound of your kitty's bladder will likely be just under or a tad over $100, while a full abdominal ultrasound may set you back $300. Get something like an ultrasound-guided biopsy without anesthesia done and you'll be looking at around $200, but if the procedure is more in depth and requires anesthesia, you could be tossing your vet about $500. These prices are as of 2012.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.