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According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, a large majority (83%) of cats go to the vet in their first year, but half of them don’t return until they’re sick or injured.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that nearly half of cat owners do not make annual appointments for their feline friends.
Adopting a kitten is a long term commitment. It’s not uncommon for cats to be 15 to 20 years old. And just as food, shelter, and lots of love are required, so is routine health care.
There can be several reasons cat owners avoid visiting the vet. First, they may mistakenly believe that cats who stay indoors are safe from parasites and disease. Keeping cats indoors can reduce exposure, but it does not protect them completely.
People and other pets walking in and out can carry parasites into them. Vaccinations should be given and health problems such as obesity, dental disease, and other chronic conditions should be monitored annually.
Cats are masters at hiding their pain or illness. Long before they were domesticated, cats survived in the wild by hiding their pain. Our feline friends still display this innate tendency and often do not show symptoms of a health problem until it progresses.
Signs that a cat may be in pain include a decrease in normal activity or grooming habits. He can resist petting and be treated as usual. Limping and urinating outside the litter box are also symptoms.
Because cats keep discomfort to themselves, an annual physical exam includes laboratory tests to reveal early stages of an illness or disease. Identifying a health problem early on is often easier and cheaper to treat.
Some cat owners may limit visits to the vet as cats can be difficult to transport. The very sight of the person wearing it can lead to them hiding under the bed with claws outstretched. Heartbreaking whining can accompany owners as they drive to the vet.
Try these tips to make things easier for Fluffy. Make the wearer a comfortable place. Leave it out and put in a few favorite treats or toys so she’ll enjoy spending time in the luggage rack. Take them for short car trips that don’t end up in the veterinarian’s office.
Pheromones can be sprayed into carriers to calm anxious kittens. Medicines for super stressed cats can be prescribed by veterinarians.
The cost of a vet exam can also prevent people from taking cats for checkups. Remember, the cost of routine care is significantly less than that of treating advanced diseases. And pet insurance, wellness plans, and loan programs like Care Credit are payment options.
Kittens should see a veterinarian a few times during the first year. An annual health check-up is recommended for healthy adult cats. Older cats may need to see a veterinarian more often, depending on their health.
To keep your feline friend happy and healthy, work with your veterinarian. She can answer all of your weight and diet questions. Vaccinations and parasite prevention; Dental care; and exercise and behavior problems.
• Diana Stoll is Practice Manager at Red Barn Animal Hospital, located in Hampshire and Gilberts. Visit redbarnpetvet.com or call (847) 683-4788 (Hampshire) or (847) 426-1000 (Gilberts).