Pet Insurance Blog

Monday September 14, 2015

What You Need to Know About Cat Deafness

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Cat deafness can be present at birth, present itself gradually or be the very sudden result of an illness or accident. It also does not solely manifest as total hearing loss, sometimes only one ear is affected or only partial hearing is lost.


Temporary hearing loss can be caused by a mild infection or from side effects of certain drugs, like amino-glycoside antibiotics or diuretics. Ear mites are another common cause of temporary hearing loss, as well as tumors or polyps.

Permanent deafness can be caused by a variety of factors, including old age, continued exposure to loud noises, injury or severe, untreated ear infections.

Additionally, all-white, blue-eyed cats are born deaf.


Regularly monitoring and cleaning a cat’s ears can help prevent infections. If your cat does start to exhibit any of the following signs, however, a visit to the veterinarian may be in order.

• Persistent scratching and pawing of the ear area
• Sensitivity to touch
• Head tilting or shaking
• Loss of balance and disorientation
• Redness or swelling of the ear flap or canal
• Unpleasant odor
• Black or yellowish discharge
• Accumulation of dark brown wax
• Hearing loss
• Bleeding


A licensed veterinarian should be consulted if your cat is exhibiting signs of an ear problem. They will examine your feline friend for infections, mites, inflammation or injury.

A common test used to evaluate hearing is the BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response). Small electrodes are placed under the skin during the procedure to measure electrical activity in the ear and brain. The test is not painful, and your veterinarian may suggest a referral to a veterinary neurologist to have it performed.

Treatment & Prevention

A veterinarian might recommend regular cleanings and medication for a mild infection or ear mites. But, permanent hearing loss cannot be reversed. Luckily, cats are extremely adaptable and can utilize their other senses to maintain a high quality of life.

Regular cleanings are a great way to prevent ear problems in addition to being an effective treatment. It is also important to remember never to use over-the-counter medication or insert a cotton swab into your cat’s ear canal without a veterinarian’s prior instruction.

Have a dog at home too? Learn how to prevent and treat dog deafness.

Information courtesy of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®).

Monday August 31, 2015

5 Ways to Keep Cats Happy

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Happy cat, happy life… or something like that.

Regardless, cat parents know that a happy cat is less likely to exhibit destructive behaviors and is more likely to live a long, healthy life. Emotional health is just as important to our feline friends as it is to humans.

We’ve compiled a list of ways cat parents can keep their cats happy, in addition to lots of love and cuddles.

1. Regular Veterinary Visits

Annual checkups are very important for cats, who are well-known for hiding symptoms. These clues can also help you tell if you should take your cat to the veterinarian for an exam.

2. Well-Balanced Diet

Cats should be fed an appropriate amount of food that matches their size and energy output. It is OK to pamper your cat with a special treat now and again, like one of these homemade snacks.

3. Stimulating Environment

Mental stimulation and physical exercise are key components to pets living happy, healthy lives. Cat parents can encourage activities such as bird watching or paper bag exploration in addition to providing ample toys.

4. Sleeping Accommodations

Cats sleep 70% of their lives, so having a variety of slumber spots can be important. Prime locations features the most sunlight and heat available, such as window sills, a warm bed or next to a fireplace.

5. Feline Friendship

Though they may seem aloof at times, cats love socializing—especially with other cats. Adopting a second pet can seem a bit daunting, but these tips will help make the introductions go smoothly.

Share a photo of your happy cat with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Tips courtesy of the ASPCA®.

Friday August 14, 2015

Get the Facts on Behavioral Conditions and Coverage

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Just like people, pets can get stressed out when their routines change. It’s not always easy for our four-legged friends to adjust to a new home, the arrival of a noisy baby, or shifting schedules during back-to-school time.

Pet’s who are anxious can start showing unwanted or compulsive behaviors such as:

 • Destructive chewing
 • Excessive licking
 • Harmful scratching
 • Nonstop barking
 • Pacing back and forth
 • Spinning in circles
 • Tail chasing
 • Going outside the litter box

What should you do?

If your pet has a behavioral condition, set up an appointment with your veterinarian. The doctor can check to see if there are any underlying medical or physical issues, like an allergy, parasite, or infection, which might be causing the behavior.

Once these are ruled out, your veterinarian can recommend ways to help stop the behavior. It might be as simple as giving your pet time to adjust to the new situation or medication to reduce anxiety. Increasing the amount of mental and physical stimulation you’re pet is getting can also be helpful.

Can behavioral issues be covered?

Behavioral conditions can be harmful to pets and disruptive to families. That’s why we include behavioral coverage with Level 3. It can reimburse you for consultations, exams, lab testing, and medications to diagnose and treat these conditions—and help get your pet back to his or her happy-go-lucky self!


Wednesday August 5, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Miss Kitty


Miss Kitty’s very characteristic and adorable floppy ear is the result of an ear hematoma that she had to have surgery to correct. Ever the devoted sister, she taught her brothers how to scratch on the scratching post rather than the furniture, and she will often bring her gray, tattered mouse toy as a gift.

Wednesday July 1, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Tanner


Tanner is extremely loving. He hash a huge heart and is very cuddly with both his pet parents and his feline siblings. Tanner is a little uncoordinated and has extra long tufts coming out of his paws. It is quite entertaining to watch him try to run and slide around on the wood floors! 

Tanner also has a very strange interest in sneaking nuts. He, unfortunately, got on top of the fridge and ate almonds a few years ago which made him very sick. We have to continually make sure that all nuts and nut products are put away or he manages to always find them.

Wednesday June 17, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Otis


Otis LOVES playing in water, whether it's in the water dish, shower or sink. He is also a champion cuddler, typically laying on his pet parents' faces, chests or heads. He is always climbing on or into things and is a good swimmer as a result, as he always falls in the bathtub!

Monday June 15, 2015

5 Clues to Detect Cat Illnesses


It can be hard to tell if a cat is sick since our notoriously independent friends may mask or hide their symptoms. These clues can help you tell if you should take your cat to the veterinarian.

Clue #1: Messy Coat

Some cats stop grooming when they don’t feel well and may have a dull or oily coat. Over-grooming can also be a sign of anxiety or illness causing bald patches and red, irritated skin.

Clue #2: Weight

Change Cats who start turning their nose up at their food bowls may be sick. Sudden weight gain can also be a sign that something is up. What looks like extra pounds could actually be abdominal swelling. 

Clue #3: Eye and Ear Issues

A cat’s eyes and ears can reveal a health issue. The eyes should be bright and clear with no cloudy film, and the ears shouldn’t show any signs of discharge or inflammation.

Clue #4: Mouth Trouble

Do you cringe at your cat’s breath? That could be a sign of a problem. Very stinky breath or discolored gums can be a symptom of gingivitis or tooth decay, which can lead to infection.

Clue #5: Behavioral Problems

If your typically social kitty has suddenly become shy and irritable, you may have a sick feline on your hands. Litter box issues can also point to a problem, like a bladder infection or blockage.

If you detect any signs of sickness in your cat, be sure to call your veterinarian. Need to find a veterinarian for your cat? Our Vet Clinic Finder can help you locate one in your area. Also, if your cat isn’t covered, you can learn more about our plans.

Wednesday May 27, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Milo


Milo loves to wrestle with his twin brother Otis and chase his two older feline siblings too. He plays with his fishing pool so incessantly that he ends up panting like a dog. His favorite places to nap are on clean laundry and in laundry baskets. Milo is also quite the notorious cuddle monster and curls up next to everyone in the house, including the dogs!

Wednesday April 22, 2015

Office Pet of the Week: Spanky


Spanky's favorite thing is to jump from the floor to the top of the doors and balance while screaming erratically. He also likes to bring his pet parent his very worn and tattered pink mouse as a gift of his ongoing love and appreciation. In Spanky's mind, he may be partially bird. He would love to be carried around on his pet parent's shoulder every day if possible.

Sunday March 8, 2015

Customer Story: A Frightful Tale of Ingested Plastic


“I was scared when my cat swallowed a bit of plastic, and we took him to the veterinarian. It wasn't just the anesthesia, X-rays and other procedures that scared me, it was the price tag as well. Our ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan covered a lot of the claim, and everyone there was truly concerned about my cat's health. They asked about his health every time they called to go over the claim. It was really sweet, and they made it so much easier to deal with such a scary experience. Thank you!” –Jeni R., Dublin, OH

We'd love to hear if we've helped your pet. Share your story and it may be featured on our blog.

Monday February 23, 2015

How to Brush Your Pet's Teeth


Brushing your dog or cat’s teeth might seem like a daunting task at first, but you'll both get used to it with a little time and patience. These tips can help:

  1. Pick a time when your pet is calm, for instance, after a long walk or an energetic game. It would be a good idea to get your pet accustomed to having his muzzle and mouth handled gradually before leaping into a full teeth cleaning.
  2. Go slow and stop if your pet starts to get upset, even if you haven’t finished brushing. You want to make sure your pet is comfortable during the whole session. You may want to contact a qualified professional if your pet shows signs of fear or aggression at any time during the brushing.
  3. Choose a quiet area and speak in a calm, soothing voice as you brush to help your pet relax and enjoy the experience. If you want to leash your pet during the session to limit his movement, keep the leash short (about 3 ft.) Also, make sure there’s enough slack so that your pet can sit or lie down easily.

Don’t forget to give your pet treats throughout the process and maybe even a new pet-safe dental chew toy at the end! Rewards will help your dog or cat associate good things with getting his teeth brushed.

Monday February 23, 2015

3 Pet Dental Health Myths Debunked


In honor of National Pet Dental Health Month, we’re debunking 3 common myths about pets and their pearly whites.

Myth 1: Pets are supposed to have bad breath.
While most dogs and cats don't have pleasant breath, very foul breath can indicate a health issue like digestive problems or a gum condition such as gingivitis. If you spot any sign of gum inflammation, a visit to the veterinarian is recommended.

Myth 2: You can use human toothpaste for pets.
People paste usually contains fluoride, which can be toxic for pets. Only use paste made for pets. Pet toothpaste even comes in a variety of flavors, like liver, mint, chicken and peanut butter, so you can experiment with a few flavors to find out which one your pet prefers!

Myth 3: Real bones are good for your pet's teeth.
Real bones can fracture teeth or splinter and cause injuries. Stick to hard kibble and pet-safe dental chew toys to help prevent the build-up of harmful plaque. Don’t forget to supervise your pet while he’s playing and immediately see your veterinarian if your pet consumes part of an inedible chew toy.

Many veterinarians advise annual dental cleanings to keep your dog or cat’s teeth healthy. Regular brushing can also help. Learn more about how to brush your pet’s teeth here.

Sunday February 22, 2015

Customer Story: Denver Learns Not to Tangle with Cords


“A bungee cord was lying on the table, and there was some exposed wire between the cover and the hook. All of a sudden, our cat Denver cried out and began running in circles and then under the couch. Evidently, he had chewed the cord and scratched the inside of his mouth. We took Denver to the veterinarian’s office so they could sedate him and examine his mouth. Luckily, it was only a scratch, and he was given antibiotics. It took 3 days for Denver to return to normal. We are very happy to have pet insurance!” –Sarah I., Greenwich, CT

We'd love to hear if we've helped your pet. Share your story and it may be featured on our blog.

Sunday February 8, 2015

Customer Story: Belle’s Recovery from Mouth Cancer


“Belle was recently diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her mouth and had to have all but two teeth extracted. I have submitted four claims so far for Belle and have received my reimbursements within two weeks. I've spoken with representatives a couple times with questions and each time they were courteous and knowledgeable, and they voiced compassion and concern for Belle. My girl is on the road to recovery, and there has been no recurrence of the tumor so far. The small monthly fee is well worth it as I could never have afforded the surgery and aftercare necessary to keep her alive and well. Thank you to the caring folks at the ASPCA Pet Health Insurance program!” –Charlotte S., Potsdam, NY

We'd love to hear if we've helped your pet. Share your story and it may be featured on our blog.

Sunday February 1, 2015

Customer Story: Coverage for All Stages of Life


“I have had an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan for three years now, and I cannot say one bad thing about it. I have used it over and over for my 10-year-old cat and my two 2-year-old cat. I adopted my 10-year-old when he was 8 and added him to the insurance without any issues, which is great because I had no idea of his previous medical history. I have recommended ASPCA Pet Health Insurance to many people and will continue to do so. Thank you for helping me provide my boys with the best medical care possible!” –Damien M., York, PA

We'd love to hear if we've helped your pet. Share your story and it may be featured on our blog.