Recent studies have shown that more than half the cats in the US have not been seen by a veterinarian within the past year for a wellness visit! And 50% cat owners feel that a visit to the veterinarian is too stressful for their pet versus only 20% for dog owners.
Many cats only see their vet when they are sick. But the fact is, regular wellness exams are an important part of cat ownership. Since our pets can’t tell us when they’re sick, it’s up to us to be attentive to their routine health care. Keep in mind that cats age way more quickly than humans, so an annual check-up for your cat is like you going to the doctor every 4-plus years. During these appointments, your veterinarian will perform a routine physical exam which can uncover early signs of illness or disease.
Some of the benefits of preventive health care are outlined below:
- Cats are masters of hiding illness. As a part of their natural instinct to protect themselves from predators, cats will hide that they are in pain, ill, or in a weakened state. This means that your cat could be developing a health condition and you may not notice anything wrong until the condition has advanced and is more difficult to treat.
- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking your cat for regular wellness checks allows your veterinarian to see subtle changes and abnormalities that can easily be overlooked – veterinarians are trained to spot problems early. Spotting and treating problems early, before they are difficult to treat, can translate into better outcomes for your cat, and tend be less costly when discovered and treated early.
- More than 50% of cats in North America are overweight or obese. Many health conditions, such as osteoarthritis, joint damage, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are linked to obesity. At a regular wellness exam, your veterinarian will check your cat’s weight and provide you with guidance on achieving or maintaining her ideal weight. 1 or 2 pounds may not seem like much, but on a 10-pound cat, 2 pounds is 20% of her body weight!
- Cats age more quickly than humans. A one-year-old cat is equivalent to 15 human years of age and a two-year-old cat’s “human age” is closer to 24! Each year thereafter is about 4 years. A lot can happen or change in those “years,” which is why annual/biannual veterinary visits are so important.
- Dental disease. Your adult cat has 30 teeth which means there’s a lot of teeth to look after. More than 50% of cats over the age of three have some form of dental disease, but again, cats will hide pain caused by dental disease. Your veterinarian will check your cat’s teeth, provide advice for maintaining a healthy mouth, and recommend professional cleaning if needed.
The frequency of wellness checks depends on the health status of your cat. Your veterinarian will recommend an appointment schedule with your cat’s best interests in mind.
Getting your cat to your veterinarian may seem challenging, but taking some steps ahead of time will help make this easier for both you and your cat.
- Train your cat to like her carrier by making it tempting! Put her favorite toys, blanket, and treats in the carrier so she becomes accustomed to it. You can even feed your cat in her carrier so she associates the carrier with pleasant events. Choose a carrier with a removable lid – once at the clinic, the lid can be popped off and your cat gently lifted out rather than forcibly pulled out. Your veterinarian may even be able to perform part of the exam while your cat is still comfortably in her crate! Always use a seatbelt to restrain the carrier in your car.
- The clinic. Many veterinary clinics have procedures to help keep cats more comfortable during veterinary visits. Check with your clinic to see how your veterinary team can help make the visit as smooth as possible and if there are any steps you can take at home before the visit.
No one really likes going to the doctor, but regular wellness checks can help prevent illnesses, detect early signs of disease, and keep your cat a healthy member of your family for a long time! This August 22nd make an appointment to take your cat to the vet!