Despite the fact that cats are more prevalent as pets than dogs, only about one cat per every five dogs receives regular veterinary care. In fact, some research suggests that as many as 50% of cat owners don’t take their cats to the vet.
There are a number of factors that contribute to limited veterinary visits for cats. According to a survey by Royal Canin, two-thirds of cat owners simply believe cats have fewer health issues than dogs. However, according to the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), routine check-ups are vital for giving cats long, happy and healthy lives.
Cats age more rapidly than humans, and they are quite adept at hiding sickness and pain, making it difficult to know if there is something wrong that requires veterinary attention. Hidden diseases commonly go untreated for this reason, which is why the Take Your Cat to the Vet initiative was created to spread awareness about the importance of preventative feline veterinary care.
For example, up to one-third of cats over the age of 12 have some form of kidney disease. Managing the progression of the disease, if caught early, can be accomplished with a proper diagnosis and reduced-phosphorous diet.
Obesity is also a common problem for cats that can lead to more severe health issues down the road. In fact, multiple studies indicate that more than half of the nation’s domestic cats are carrying more weight than they should. A veterinarian can help with dietary recommendations and other suggestions to help trim your cat’s waistline, along with screening for the onset of secondary complications.
Another common cat ailment is urinary stones, which can be extremely painful and cannot normally be detected without professional evaluation. Regular visits to the vet can help assess your cat’s risk for developing stones and determine nutritional changes that may help prevent a problem.
Vet visits are also an opportunity to let your veterinarian know about any behavior changes and implement preventive care measures, which can be more effective than reactive care once a problem is revealed.
However, the very act of getting to the vet can be traumatic for cat owners and cats alike. Repetition is likely to help alleviate those concerns as your cat becomes more accustomed to the process, helping to put you at ease as well.
Cnsider these tips and tricks from the experts at Royal Canin and the AAFP to make your cat’s visits to the veterinarian easier:
1. Get your cat familiar with a carrier. Getting your cat into the carrier is often the most difficult part of getting him or her to the vet. Start by leaving the carrier out at all times and make it a safe place by placing food or a cozy towel inside. Using a secure, stable, hard-sided carrier that opens from the top and the front that can also be taken apart in the middle is best. When traveling, it’s also a good idea to place your cat in the carrier rear-first, cover the carrier with a blanket and avoid bumping into things while carrying it.
2. Make the vet visit a positive experience. It’s easy to imagine that vet visits can seem scary to a cat. Feeding your cat veterinary-approved treats from carrier to clinic can help create a positive connection with the trip and distract your pet from the busy waiting room or examination.
3. Take advantage of slow times at the clinic. The waiting room of an animal hospital can be loud and full of unfamiliar animals and smells, making it a chaotic and overwhelming environment. Ask if certain days or times are slower than others. Scheduling appointments at those times may help your cat feel less overwhelmed by a new environment.
4. Give your cat practice exams. In the examination room, your vet will give your cat a full examination. To make your cat comfortable with being touched in such a manner, consider giving him or her practice examinations at home and positively reward your pet for letting you look at and touch his or her stomach, feet, face and ears.
5. Talk to your vet. Your veterinarian is your best partner to help your cat feel comfortable inside and outside the clinic. Discuss with him or her other ideas to help make visits less stressful.
To learn more about the importance of taking your cat the vet, visit royalcanin.com/cat2vetday.