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Protect your pet with Treat’s on-demand vet visits and live chat

TechCrunch TechCrunch 26/05/2016 Josh Constine

Your pet gets sick and you don’t know what to do. Google has a thousand conflicting answers and it could be a week until you can get an appointment with a veterinarian. But Treat can let you chat live with a licensed vet instantly or get them to come for same-day in-home visit to check on your furry friend. Treat can also hook you up with the best pet products, training, and grooming.

It’s like a medical concierge for your pooch or purring kitten.

Treat is launching today in San Francisco and Oakland. Watch our Facebook Live stream with 4 of Treat’s kittens and ask the team questions here:

It’s got early funding from angels like Slack’s April Underwood and a strategic investor in the petcare space. Live chat with a vet from 8am to midnight is free on its iOS app, while a vet visit costs $99. You can also get a half-hour training session for $59, nail trims for $29, and it will price-match online pet retailers on products it will deliver.

Treat could take the stress out of being a pet parent. It’s a $60 billion market including food. If Treat can use live chat with vets to build a relationship with customers, it could become their go-to for everything from kibble to collars to house-calls.

The idea for Treat came when co-founder and CEO Steve Simitzis’ cat had a stroke. She’d recover with daily physical therapy and bottle feeding, but Simitizis would need questions answered at 2am, and help with care while he was at work. “I figured there’d be an app for that” but there wasn’t. So he built it with co-founders Marta Crowe and veterinarian Dr. Kate Link.

Treat will have to compete with vet on-demand company VetPronto and sharing economy startup WagWalking at first, but eventually it hopes to steal customers from big box retailers like Petco and PetSmart. What none of them offer is the peace of mind of reliable answers when you’re scared something could be wrong. If your dog’s puke is green or your cat seems unusually sedentary, combing the Internet for answers can just make you more worried.

Treat won’t be able to provide an in-home X-ray if your pet breaks a bone, or provide anesthesia. “We’re more primary and preventative care” says Simitzis. But Treat does have partnered clinics it can refer you to if something’s seriously wrong.

Breaking the behavior pattern of dragging your pet to the vet’s office might be Treat’s biggest challenge. People aren’t used to in-home care or the ability to get questions answered instantly. But Treat hopes that the way Uber redefined how we got around cities, it can affordably redefine urban pet care by subsidizing peace of mind through ecommerce product sales.

To promote the launch, Treat will be delivering kittens to play with tomorrow in the Bay Area. It’s a partnership with a kitten shelter/rescue to find them permanent homes, and they’ll come with a vet to watch over them, and. In fact, they’ve brought four little kitties to TechCrunch. You can watch them bumble around and ask the Treat team questions on our Facebook Live video starting now.

Treat is on iOS and currently available in SF and Oakland

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