Take Your Cat to the Vet: 5 reasons cats need regular veterinary care
Cats are one of my favorite animals. They are independent, yet loving. Stoic but full of personality. They are very low maintenance (in my opinion) compared to their canine counterparts and they make a fabulous addition to any family. However, many people perceive that cats do not require the veterinary care that their canine pets receive. This is not true - cats (maybe even more-so than dogs) need regular visits to their veterinarian. Continue reading below for 5 reasons cats need regular veterinary visits too!
1. Cats hide their illnesses
Cats are independent, stoic creatures which makes them experts at hiding their pain and illnesses. Your veterinarian will perform a physical exam (checking eyes and ears, mouth, teeth, gums. Feeling for enlarged lymph nodes. Analyzing their skin and hair coat, listening to the heart and lungs. Palpating the abdomen and all of their joints, etc) to determine if your cat is experiencing pain or if there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed (such as arthritis, constipation, dental disease, etc). Yearly bloodwork is an important investment because it analyzes the function of your cat’s internal organs and provides the opportunity to catch a problem before it becomes significant and costly. Also, more than half of all cats are overweight or obese. Discuss your cat’s weight with your veterinarian so that a plan can be established to increase your cat’s quality of life. Often times, the underlying cause for weight gain can be fixed by modifying your cat’s diet but sometimes the cause is more serious (i.e. diabetes). By bringing your cat to the veterinarian at least once a year, disease will be detected sooner which provides the best opportunity for a long quality of life for your feline!
2. Cats need vaccines
I know vaccines are controversial in both human and animal health, but the reality is, every cat needs a rabies vaccine – even if they spend most of their time indoors. Rabies is 100% fatal to an unvaccinated animal. I have 2 cats and I would be lying to you if I told you they didn’t escape once or twice a year. I am not perfect and I want to make sure my animals are protected in case they are exposed. If you have a cat that spends most or all of his/her time outside, there are more vaccines than just rabies that they will need. Find a veterinarian who is willing to tailor the vaccine protocol to your cat’s specific needs. There are also non-adjuvanted vaccinations available for cats. Discuss this with your veterinarian.
3. Helps build a relationship and keeps your cat happy
I hear from people “but my cat HATES the vet” or “I don’t like bringing my cat more than I need to because it stresses him out”. I have many feline patients who love my office. And certainly I have some who do not. Help your cat to love (or at least tolerate) the veterinarian because it will help them live longer and give them a better quality of life. Even if you have to start off giving medications to calm and soothe your cat, this will allow a positive experience and a more accurate physical examination by the doctor. See my previous post on Finicky Felines: 3 ways to create a positive vet visit.
4. Prevention costs less than treatment
It is true and you know this if you have been following me for any length of time: I am all about prevention! I wish I never had to see a sick animal – much less an animal sick with something that could have been prevented. Take action by making sure you keep your cat up to date with vaccinations, physical exams, parasite prevention and yearly labs (bloodwork, fecal exams).
5. Cats age more rapidly than people
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, ‘a cat reaches the approximate human age of 15 its first year and then 24 at age 2. Each year thereafter, they age approximately 4 cat years for every calendar year.’ So, my 13 year old cat is the equivalent of 68 year old human! This makes the case for twice a year veterinary visits, but if you have your cat examined by a veterinarian once a year, I’d call that a win!
I know how busy life is, I have 3 kids, 3 dogs (2 puppies!) and 2 cats, so I also understand budgets and financial restrictions. But that is even more of a reason to provide regular veterinary care to your cats (and dogs!) because illness is much more costly (in time and money) to treat and we all want our animals to be comfortable, happy and to live long healthy lives!
– Leigh Hofmeister, DVM