Cats are not second-class citizens. They need preventive care too!
Annual dental, medical, and eye check-ups are the norm for many people. These visits allow healthcare providers to check your health and identify issues that may impact your long-term well-being.
The same applies to your cat. Taking your cat to the veterinarian once a year, rather than only when they are sick, is a step in the right direction for preventive care. But a recent survey showed that 33% of cat owners only take their cat to the veterinarian when they are sick. Because cats are masters at hiding illnesses, routine physical exams can identify signs of disease before it becomes severe and more costly to treat.
Cats age faster than humans
It’s important to remember that cats age significantly faster than humans. Cats reach the “human age” of 15 by the end of their first year and 24, by the end of their second year.
With each calendar year, a cat ages about four years. That makes a five-year-old cat is about 36 in human years! Think of your own health—a lot can happen in four years! If your cat is seeing the veterinarian only every two or three years, this translates into eight to twelve “cat years”.
Seeing a veterinarian every year is critical to catch early signs of disease. In fact, prevention and early treatment is often less costly than waiting until your cat has a full-blown illness.
Some common conditions that veterinarians may identify in cats are:
- cystitis (inflammation of the bladder)
- dental disease
- heart murmur
- feline upper respiratory infection
At a yearly visit, any concerns or behavior changes (e.g., eating patterns, weight gain/loss, activity level, other behaviors) that you may have noticed with your cat can be discussed with your veterinarian. And given that senior cats experience more disease it’s better for them to have two checkups a year.
Remember that all these subtle changes can help your veterinarian uncover hidden issues that may not be obvious now but can become problems down the road. Making the time to take your cat to the veterinarian every year is just as important as scheduling your own health check-ups.
Feline veterinary visits made easier
Many people avoid taking their cat to the veterinarian because it’s stressful for both the cat and the owner! Here are a few tips to help reduce your cat’s stress when visiting our office:
- Leave your cat carrier out and open in your home as an alternate sleeping spot. Make it as comfy as possible with familiar smelling blankets so your cat can bring a bit of home with them when they travel to the veterinary hospital (think security blanket).
- If your cat only goes in the car to see the vet, consider taking random car rideswith your cat to reduce the association of the car with the veterinary clinic.
- Spray the carrier with a facial pheromone at least 15 minutes before taking your cat to the vet to reduce their anxiety.
- Keep the carrier as stable as possible during transport. If possible, hold it from underneath rather than holding the swinging handle.
- Ensure the carrier is secured in your car. The backseat footwell is best to prevent injury from airbags and excess movement but some carriers also come designed to fit seatbelts for extra security.
- Talk to us about medications or supplements that can make your cat’s veterinary visit less stressful and more enjoyable for you! There are excellent affordable and safe options for every cat.
Be an advocate for your cat’s health and well-being. Routine medical care can prevent illnesses and can detect diseases early and when easiest to treat. Ask us about the Fear Free® techniques we use to reduce cats’ anxiety during visits to Old Towne Animal Hospital.
What if your dog is a “scaredy cat” when it comes to the vet?
Unless you’re walking distance from the veterinary hospital, get your dog accustomed to travelling in a car. For safety, properly restrain your dog by placing him in a crate or use an approved canine harness restraint. Practice taking car rides to enjoyable locations, such as a nearby dog park, and provide a treat when you reach the destination. If car travel is the issue, gradual acclimation and/or medications for car sickness may be required
If your dog enjoys traveling in a vehicle, coming to visit our hospital will be much easier. If your dog loves going for car rides but not the ones that end at our hospital, bring him by for “fun” visits, like a quick cookie break! The more visits to the vet where he receives treats and other rewards, the less anxiety and anticipation he’ll have for real visits. Talk to us about convenient and affordable supplements and medications to help with underlying anxiety, even for these “fun” visits. Sometimes anxiety prevents them from learning that visits can be enjoyable too!