Saturday, January 10, 2015

Why Would You OR Your Cat Want to Visit the Vet?

It is the subject of great debate, discussion, study, and marketing analysis in the veterinary field...
Why do American own more cats than dogs, but yet bring them to the vet less than half of the time?

This sad statistic is made even more bleak by the latest data showing that cat vet visits continue to decline year after year.

There are about a million reasons, (although I debate that 'excuses' is a more accurate term than 'reason').

Loon, one of our clinic cats.
Here are some of the more popular reasons that I hear;
  1. "My cat doesn't go outside." I suppose the argument is that if your cat doesn't go outside that they don't get exposed to anything? Well, critters still come in to your house don't they?
  2. "My cat doesn't see other cats, so how could she get sick?" The chance of your cat getting a disease from another cat is slim if they are in your home AND  away from other cats, but the sad truth is that many alleged "indoor only" cats should more accurately be labeled "primarily inside." A cat that spends any amount of time outside is best protected from disease by being up to date on vaccines appropriate for both your cats lifestyle and risk, your geographical location and associated threats, and your local and regional laws.
  3. "My cat gets freaked out by going to the vet." OK, there is the stress of traveling, I get that. Some cats have a very difficult time traveling, and some cats are down right impossible to examine, for these guys there are mobile vets available.
  4. "I can't get her in the carrier." Your vet can help with this one. There are lots of tricks to try, like leaving the carrier in the house for a few days, or putting your cat in a pillow case and then putting the pillow case in the carrier. Or lowering her into the carrier with the door open facing the ceiling..or use a mobile vet.
  5. "She doesn't need anything from the vet." There is great value in your cat being examined by your vet. (A penny of prevention is worth a pound of cure!).When your vet looks at your cat they will assess their teeth (almost 60% of cats have evidence of dental disease by age 3), their heart, lung, muscle mass, ears, eyes, muscle condition, weight, joints, and look for any abnormal growths, conditions, or behaviors. There are very few examinations where I don't find something that the parent wasn't aware of. At minimum we discuss diet, litter box habits, household and living environment and how your cat is doing overall. 
My Wren. My pillow. 
You get it.

There are a whole slew of things to discuss when I see a cat that hasn't been to the vet in a very long time, or even ever. This is made even more difficult if the cat is coming to see me and is ill.

Here are a few things that I think you should ask your vet about at your next visit;
  1. Ask about three year vaccines. If your cat is inside and at minimal risk to diseases like leukemia then three year vaccines are a safe alternative. BUT, coming in for a vaccine every three years is still not a valid reason to skip the yearly exam!
  2. I now give vaccinations in the tail. IF, your cat is the one in 10,000 cats that get a vaccine induced sarcoma amputating the tail is a quicker, easier treatment option than amputating a leg, or large area of the dorsal shoulder area.
  3. How bad are the teeth? I say this because it is much more likely that there is some degree of dental disease. To be even more specific IF your cat is over 4 there they are probably in need of a dental cleaning.
  4. Review your cats diet. What and how much are you feeding? Does this need any adjustments?
  5. Review your cats coat. Should your cat be groomed? Matted, thick, or long hair has only two places to go. In your home, or in their belly. We take massive hair ball obstructions out of cats who are dying from them. Such a silly thing to die from.
  6. Check all nails and clip if needed. This becomes more important to cats with age. (Don't forget the thumbs!).
  7. Look at ears. Are they dirty? How can you safely and easily clean them at home?
  8. Look at your cats nails, ALL of them. Older cats often need nail trimming more often, (monthly), and you should know how to safely and easily do this.
  9. Can you tell if your cat is overweight? or undermuscled? Ask your vet to show you how to monitor for these at home.
  10. All cats over 8 years old benefit from yearly examinations, blood work monitoring, (to include the thyroid), and a yearly urinalysis and fecal. 

My Magpie.
No worries here.
The data is indisputable and undeniable. There are a whole bunch of cats in our homes, and a whole bunch of them (like half) are not being brought to the vet on a routine basis! Now we have already cleared the air on why people think that they don't need to visit with their bunch of justifiable credible reasons, but here's my advice; your cat will live a longer, healthier, and happier life if you do!.

There is a wealth of  pet information at your fingertips that is available free, 24 hours a day, all 7 days of the week. It is a resource for anyone who cares about pets. is a place to share information, help pets and their people and connect those of us are pet professionals. But better than that we invite everyone who has a pet, loves a pet, or wants to connect with other pet people to visit and join the place dedicated to social pet care.

How can I get any work done?
Ah, who cares,, I'd rather play with Wren anyway...
If you would like to meet me I can be found at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet in Jarrettsville Maryland. I am also on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.


  1. It is amazing how many pet owners are negligent in proper brushing, cleaning and grooming of their cats. One should know that if we humans are taking a shower or a bath every day, why wouldn't a pet need regular cleaning too, albeit less frequently.