Has Your Cat Seen a Vet this year?

posted: by: Dawn, RVT Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

It's a proven fact that the number of pet cats is bigger than the number of pet dogs.  However, veterinarians will tell you that the number of dog visits greatly outnumbers the number of cat visits.

Why is that?

Two big factors contribute to this.

First of all, many cat owners don't believe that cats, especially indoor cats, need annual exams and vaccinations like dogs do.  That can't be further from the truth.

Cats need annual exams and routine vaccinations, even if they are indoor only (which is recommended for several reasons, but that's a topic for another day).  Vaccine-wise, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners both set forth vaccine guidelines which Suburban Animal Clinic follows.  Rabies and the FVRCP (upper respiratory) vaccines are recommended for all indoor and outdoor cats.  These are given every 1-3 years depending on the cat's age and risk of exposure.

All cats should receive the Feline Leukemia vaccine as a kitten and young adult.  After that, they can go to every 3 years or discontinue the vaccine if they are indoor only and their exposure is minimal or absent.

Cats who go outdoors will receive these vaccines annually.

Besides vaccines, cats are masters at hiding ailments.  Instinct tells them they must hide any sign of injury or illness as long as possible or else they become someone's dinner.  All too often, we hear that cat owners will bring their cat to the vet if it becomes sick.  Once that cat finally shows signs of being ill, the disease affecting it is often too far along to be able to treat or successfully manage.  Kidney disease is very common in older cats, as are thyroid disease, heart disease, dental disease and diabetes.  Often times these cats are brought to us once they show signs of illness.  If these cats were presented for routine annual wellness exams and preventative yearly blood work, trends showing an oncoming disease could have been picked up earlier, and treatment started sooner, before the cat became extremely ill.

The second reason many cat owners don't bring their cats in for regular check-ups and vaccines is, well.....the cats hate it!  And pet owners hate upsetting their cats.  Who would want to be stuffed into a box, taken for a strange ride in the car, then forced out for a stranger to feel us over and poke us with needles?  All while dogs are barking and people we don't know are talking all around us.

The staff at Suburban understand this problem.  Many of our staff have pet cats and know the difficulties of bringing them into the vet.  However, we also know how important it is for a long, happy, healthy life.

Start by acclimating your cat to the carrier.  Don't keep it in the basement only to be brought out when it's time to leave for the vet.  Leave it out in the open with a blanket in it, and even some food or treats.  Your cat will eventually see the carrier as a potential safe bed or resting spot.

Feliway spray is a great help for calming your cat in the carrier.  Spray a little in the carrier 30 minutes before you put your cat in the carrier.  It can help your cat recognize the carrier as his and take the edge off.

During the car ride, keep windows up if possible, radio down, and voices calm and to a minimum.  Loud, unfamiliar noises will further upset your cat.

Once at the vet, keep your cat carrier away from other cats and dogs.  Even cats used to dogs and cats at home may be upset by unfamiliar animals approaching them while they feel trapped in the carrier.

Once in the exam room, open your cat's carrier and allow him/her to come out if they desire.  If they prefer to hide, it's okay to let them until the vet or technician is ready for them.  Try to keep your voice low so as not to startle your cat.  If your carrier has a top lid or comes apart, that is a better way to remove your cat from the carrier than dumping it out.  Who would want to be shaken out of their safe spot?

Suburban Animal Clinic is a certified Feline Friendly Practice.  We understand that cats are different than dogs, from how they tick to what they need to stay happy and healthy.  We promise to handle your cat with love and care and do our best to keep your cat from becoming upset.  Some cats do not like us no matter what we do--we understand that!  We will do our best to handle your cat as gently as possible for the safety of all involved.

For more information, check out these previous blogs: