An X-ray—or radiograph, as it’s commonly referred to in the veterinary world—is a two-dimensional picture of an object with three dimensions. By taking different views of the object, more information can be learned about what’s happening inside the body.
Cats usually need X-rays when they’ve injured themselves, broken a bone, swallowed a foreign object, or are having symptoms of organ dysfunction, such as kidney failure.1
X-rays can be performed at nearly all veterinary facilities. A cat X-ray cost can vary greatly. Typically, the cost is between $100 and $400. Read on to learn more about this cost and why it varies.
The Importance of Cat X-rays
X-rays are an important part of cat health care because they can penetrate tissues, enabling veterinary professionals to view internal structures in the body. An X-ray is the first diagnostic tool used to help vets know how to treat a sick or injured cat.
X-rays can show changes in organs, including the heart and lungs. This will help vets monitor any chronic diseases. They can also show foreign bodies that have been ingested and let your vet determine the best way to remove them. They can show a vet any broken or fractured bones so they can be set properly.
X-rays will also show any tumors, cysts, kidney stones, and other masses so proper treatment can be provided.
How Much Does a Cat X-ray Cost?
On average, the cost of X-rays is determined by where you live. Each vet clinic will vary with pricing. A busy West Coast vet clinic may charge between $185 and $225 for X-rays, with additional views at $45 each.
A vet clinic on the East Coast may start their pricing at $75 for X-rays. The Midwest runs closer to $100–$250 for X-rays, but the price will vary depending on your cat’s needs. Emergency vets may charge more. X-rays during an emergency vet visit can cost up to $500.
Other factors that will affect the price include how many X-rays your cat needs and which parts of the body are being X-rayed. Whole-body X-rays can cost as much as $350.
Additional Costs to Anticipate
If additional views are needed for your vet to get a better idea of the inside of your cat’s body, each scan may add to the cost of the X-ray. Some clinics only charge once for unlimited views, so be sure to ask your vet about their policy.
If a radiologist reads the X-ray to give a more thorough diagnosis, they will also charge a fee for their service. This will be added to the cost of the bill. An X-ray is a tool that is used to determine a diagnosis, but it’s not a treatment. The treatment for the ailment will add to the overall cost.
Additionally, you will have to pay for an office visit before an X-ray is performed. This cost varies but on average, you can expect to pay between $45 and $55 before any other treatments, procedures, or X-rays are done.
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When Should a Cat Get an X-ray?
An X-ray is usually suggested by a vet if they need to get a better understanding of what’s happening inside your cat’s body. If cats are vomiting without any known cause, an X-ray may show possible reasons for this, such as an ingested foreign body.
X-rays may show causes for breathing difficulties and heart issues. If your cat is experiencing trouble breathing, an X-ray may be suggested so the vet can look at the lungs.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Cat X-rays?
Many pet insurance companies offer and cover different things. Cat X-rays are covered under certain policies. If you have an insurance plan that covers accidents, injuries, and illnesses, an X-ray that is part of the treatment plan for these incidents will be covered.
When you’re selecting your plan and want it to cover possible X-rays in the future, be sure to choose one that will cover your cat in the case of an injury or future illness. If you’re unsure, ask the company to verify that they will cover X-rays before you purchase the insurance. Many insurance policies cover emergencies, which would include any X-rays at an emergency veterinary clinic.
Other Cat X-rays
Dental X-rays focus on taking pictures of your cat’s teeth. This is typically done during a professional dental cleaning or procedure to show the vet which teeth are healthy and which ones need to be extracted. Dental X-rays will also be taken if your cat has a mouth or head injury, to make sure the jaws are intact. These X-rays cost between $75 and $150 on average but can be as much as $250, depending on your region.
A CT scan, or computed tomography scan, is similar to an X-ray and gives the vet a closer look at a cat’s specific organ, muscle, or bone. It can help surgeons better prepare for surgery by giving them the exact location of a mass or tumor. CT scans can also diagnose or rule out certain types of cancer. CT scans can cost over $1,000. In New York, the total cost of a CT scan ranges from $1,500 to $2,500.
X-rays are important and useful diagnostic tools that will help your vet get a better understanding of what’s happening inside your cat’s body. Depending on where you live, your cat’s X-rays will typically cost between $100 and $400, not including a radiologist’s reading of the scans.
Emergency vet facilities may charge more for X-rays. The price can also increase based on how many views of your cat the vet needs to make a diagnosis. Many pet insurances will reimburse part or all of the cost of X-rays if they offer injury or illness protection.