Fact: There are more cats in the United States than there are dogs.
Fact: We at the Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic see more dogs on a weekly and monthly basis than we see cats. This is consistent with companion animal veterinary practices around the country.
Why are so many cats not receiving the health care that they need?
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has found that one of the major reasons for cats not visiting the veterinarian is “an inability [of owners] to recognize signs of illness or injury.” We talked about this previously in The Sick Cat: A Master of Hiding Symptoms.
As an update to this previous blog post, within the just past month, we have seen several cats who had gone 10 or more years without a visit to a veterinarian. To a person, each owner said, “I didn’t take him/her to the vet because he/she has always been so healthy.” What was disappointing is that we found kidney disease, pancreatitis, liver disease and extreme dental disease in these patients. All of these are chronic conditions that could have been caught early and addressed with a good degree of success. Instead, the cats hid their illnesses through the prime treatment period and presented in the end stages of their diseases.
Another reason for decreased feline vet visits cited in AAHA’s study is “the concern of a stressful veterinary visit for both cat and owner.” When the cat is stressed, the owner is stressed. And when the owner is stressed, the cat becomes more stressed. It can really become a snowball rolling downhill! But it doesn’t always have to be this way, and if the goal is improved quality-of-life overall for your kitty, taking some steps to minimize the stress of a veterinary visit can pay of in the long-run by preventing disease and illness and/or catching disease and illness before it is too late.
This is exactly what AAHA and the American Association of Feline Practioners reported:
“The panel members concluded that preventive veterinary care can improve quality of life, detect illness earlier and, therefore, reduce the long term expenses associated with a cat’s health care. They believe that cat owners are willing to seek more veterinary care when it improves quality of life and detects illnesses earlier, thereby reducing the long term expenses associated with their cat’s health care.”
So how can you make the visit less stressful for your kitty? Here are some starters:
Reduce the Stress Associated with the Carrier
Start young and socialize your kitten to the carrier by keeping it out and accessible to the cat(s) in the home. As your kitten ages, keep the carrier in an area where the cat(s) rest, feed and play, they will be more favorable and less stressed when it is time to go into the carrier to see the veterinarian.
Pheromones, chemical “scents” used to show familiarity (among other impressions), are powerful communication tools for cats, and including a towel or t-shirt that is familiar to your cat will allow them to carry the familiar recognition of home with them in the carrier.
Covering the carrier with a towel or blanket will create the sensation of hiding, which is also helpful for stress reduction.
Reduce the Stress Associated with the Car
If it is possible, take your cat on short car rides in the carrier. Don’t let your cat think that they’re going to the veterinarian every time the ride in the car. And withold food for a few hours prior to the ride. This can help reduce the chances of motion sickness for your cat.
All of these suggestions fall under the idea of Positive Re-enforcement. But don’t let it stop after the visit. When you arrive home, reward your kitty with a special treat!
The purpose of regular veterinary visits is Preventive Medicine. We want your cat to enjoy a long, happy, healthy life with you! If it has been a while since your cat has been examined by a veterinarian, give us a call today at 330-929-3223 to set up an appointment!