Keep your cat happy and healthy with routine vet visits
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, a large majority (83%) of cats go to a veterinarian during their first year, but half of them never go back until they are sick or injured.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates nearly half of cat owners do not make annual appointments for their feline friends.
Adopting a kitten is a long-term commitment. It is not unusual for cats to live 15 to 20 years. And just as food, shelter and lots of love are required, so is routine health care.
There may be several reasons why cat owners avoid vet visits. First, they may mistakenly believe cats that always remain indoors are shielded from parasites and illnesses. Keeping cats indoors may reduce exposure, but it does not protect them completely.
People and other pets going in and out can transport parasites inside. Vaccinations should be administered and health issues like obesity, dental disease and other chronic conditions should be monitored annually.
Cats are masters of hiding their pain or an illness. Long before they were domesticated, cats survived in the wild by hiding their pain. Our feline friends still exhibit this innate inclination and often display no symptoms of a health issue until it becomes advanced.
Signs that a cat may be in pain include a decrease in his normal activity or grooming habits. He may resist petting and being handled as usual. Limping and urinating outside the litter box are also symptoms.
Because cats keep ailments to themselves, an annual physical exam includes lab tests to uncover early stages of an illness or disease. Catching a health concern early is often easier and less costly to treat.
Some cat owners may limit visits to the vet because cats can be difficult to transport. Just the sight of their carrier may send them hiding under the bed with their claws out. Heartbreaking yowling might accompany owners as they drive to the vet.
Try these tips to make it easier for Fluffy. Make the carrier a comfortable place. Leave it out and put some favorite treats or toys inside so she enjoys spending time in the carrier. Take her for short rides in the car that do not end up at the vet's office.
Pheromones are available to spray in carriers to calm anxious kitties. Medications for super stressed-out cats can be prescribed by veterinarians.
The cost of a vet exam may also prevent people from taking cats for preventive care exams. Remember, the cost of routine care is significantly less than treating advanced disease. And pet insurance, wellness plans and credit programs, like Care Credit, are payment options.
Kittens should see a vet a few times in their first year. An annual preventive care exam is recommended for healthy adult cats. Older cats might need to see a vet more often depending on their health status.
To keep your feline friend happy and healthy, partner with your veterinarian. She can answer all your questions about weight and nutrition; vaccinations and parasite prevention; dental care; and training and behavior issues.
• Diana Stoll is the Practice Manager at Red Barn Animal Hospital with locations in Hampshire and Gilberts. Visit redbarnpetvet.com, or call (847) 683-4788 (Hampshire) or (847) 426-1000 (Gilberts).