Have we seen your cat lately?
The number of cat owners out numbers that of dog owners in the U.S., but the sad truth is that these cats are receiving less veterinary care than the average dog. In the past 10 years, the number of cat visits to the vet has decreased by 11%, and in the last year alone, the number of cats not taken to the vet is three times that of dogs. Some common misconceptions about feline health that may be behind these shocking statistics are listed below:
- Cats don’t require as many vet visits as dogs
- Indoor cats don’t require vaccinations, testing, or parasite control
- Cats show illness just like dogs do, so if everything seems fine, it probably is
- Diagnostics are a waste of money, because everything is usually normal
- Visits to the veterinarian are too stressful for cats
The truth is, even indoor cats get outside every once in a while and can be exposed to a variety of different infectious diseases and parasites. Even indoor cats in the southeastern U.S. are frequently exposed to mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks that can carry disease. In a recent study of animal shelters, 41% of lost cats that were then recovered by their owners were classified as “strictly indoor”.
Unlike dogs, cats are masters at hiding disease even from the most attentive owners, making routine wellness care and annual screening for underlying disease very important for our feline patients, especially as they age. Common diseases of middle-aged to older cats include diabetes, renal disease, and hyperthyroidism, all of which are easily diagnosed with simple blood tests and can often be successfully managed for years. Early detection of health problems leads to increased success in managing certain conditions and improving quantity and quality of life for those cats.
Dental care is also an often overlooked, but equally important, aspect of caring for your cat. Having your cat’s teeth and gums examined at annual visits can lead to early detection of problems, and providing appropriate dental care will prevent pain and infection caused by tooth and gum disease.
Visits to the vet are often stressful for our feline friends. We are well aware of this and strive to make your cat’s visit as pleasant as possible. Some of the measures we take are listed below:
- For stressed individuals we can create a more efficient version of the typical wellness visit that involves weighing and collecting samples from your cat in the exam room.
- Placement of Feliway diffusers and use of Feliway spray on our hands and clothing prior to handling your cat. Feliway® is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure. Feliway® helps create a state of familiarity and security in the cat’s local environment. As a result, it is used in our hospital to help comfort and reassure cats while they cope with challenging situations and can help prevent or reduce the stress caused by a change in their environment.
- Using our new Feline ICU for examination and monitoring of hospitalized patients in a quieter, calmer environment.
Minimizing your cat’s stress at the vet starts with you at home. We are committed to improving how our clients view the importance of their cats’ health. Please visit www.catalystcouncil.org for more resources, tips, and tools.