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Credit For Kitties

"Hey," you mutter, "who bought $500 worth of catnip?"

This story appears in the November 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

With pets quickly joining the ranks of civilized society, why not give them a little spending power? That was the reasoning behind "credit cards" for pets, offered by Jay Bloom, 33, chairman and CEO of Pet Assure Inc., a pet health-care organization. Along with wife and Pet Assure president Carolyn Farkas, 34, Bloom introduced the Action for Animals Master-Card, which, in addition to its credit-card functions, offers savings with a network of veterinary providers and dealers, and 25 percent savings on veterinary care in the plan. "We're kind of like an HMO for pets," says Bloom.

Bloom has championed the cause of pets before. A former financial officer at Chase Manhattan Bank, he began the Dover, New Jersey-based Pet Assure in 1996, after his dog underwent $3,000 hip surgery, and his then insurance company denied the bill. It called the ailment a "hereditary and genetic condition," and when Bloom looked at the policy's fine print, he found the majority of pet problems weren't covered. "They had pre-existing condition clauses and age limitations," he says. "Pet insurance at the time was woefully inadequate." He also uncovered a huge market: According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, pet owners spend $23 billion per year on their animals.

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