Only forty-eight percent of cats visit their vet for a yearly wellness exam, is your cat one of them? The truth is, cats need regular exams and preventative health care just as much as dogs, but get seen far less frequently. There are a variety of factors that play into this.
The first reason is that many cat owners don’t realize their cats should be seen. 40% of surveyed cat owners didn’t know their cat needed yearly exams.
Cats are generally seen as low maintenance, independent pets. In addition, many cats live indoors, giving a false sense of security that this protects them from illness. While it is true that indoor cats are less exposed to many sources of sickness, they are not completely protected. Disease such as feline distemper be tracked in on shoes and dog paws. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitos which can make their way inside, and intestinal parasites such as roundworms can be found in potting soil.
In addition, cats are extremely adept at hiding signs of illness. Many people assume they will know if their pet is sick, but this is often not the case. A yearly exam is essential in helping to detect disease early, and annual lab work can often reveal changes to your cat’s health even sooner.
And even if people know they should have their cat examined regularly, it is easier said then done. The mere thought of getting your cat into a carrier and to the vet can be panic inducing for you and you cat. Being prepared can help ease this terrifying task.
Does your cat go into hiding the moment you reach for the cat carrier? If the only time Fluffy sees it is when she’s going to the vet, can you blame her? Leave the carrier in plain sight for a while. Put toys and treats inside so that your pet will want to check it out (but make sure you remove any treats if they may need to be sedated at the vet). Then, when time comes for them to get in, they will be acclimated.
Practice makes perfect. Try getting Whisker’s into the carrier and closing the door but not going anywhere, or just taking a short trip around the block. Cats hate what they don’t know, so increasing their exposure to the carrier and car will help them be calmer when they really need it.
You can also make it easier to get your cat in their carrier by preparing it with a pheromone infused wipe or spray. Pheromone products, such as Feliway, are shown to reduce stress in cats.
Of course, some cats are still too scared to successfully wrangle. In these cases you may need to ask your vet about a tranquillizer. I know medication can seem scary, but it’s much safer than a seriously stressed kitty. And if all else fails, look for a vet that makes house calls.
Congrats on taking excellent care of your cat. We know it’s not an easy task, but it’s an important one.