August 22nd is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day. As a small animal veterinarian, I strongly believe in recognizing and celebrating this day! Routine wellness visits and check-ups with your veterinarian are imperative for detecting disease early and ensuring your cat is healthy.
Unfortunately, cat parents do not bring in their pets for veterinarian checkups nearly as often as dog parents do for a variety of reasons, including stress on the cat, the independent personality of cats, and the assumption that they are healthy. Cats rarely show obvious signs of sickness, making detecting illness in cats extremely challenging. People often do not realize their beloved cat is sick or something is wrong until they are at the end stage of a disease and treatment options are limited.
So let’s discuss why pet parents are reluctant to bring their cat to the vet, helpful tips for bringing your cat to the vet, and most importantly, why routine well visits and regular check-ups are so important.
Celebrate National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day!
Why is it important that your cat see your veterinarian for wellness visits?
Pets cannot always show us when they feel poorly, especially if they experience mild ailments. In addition, cats hide sickness and pain as a survival tactic, as they do not want to show signs of weakness.
Far too often, cat owners will bring their cat into the veterinarian hospital for an evaluation when they notice something is “off” or their cat is not acting like themselves. However, many times when a cat is acting “sick,” they are already at the end stages of a disease. There may not be many treatment options available.
For this reason more than any, it is imperative to have your cat evaluated yearly by your veterinarian, including full bloodwork. Veterinarians and veterinarian technicians are trained to detect physical examination abnormalities that pet owners may not see. In addition, bloodwork allows your vet to detect disease early (well before your cat shows signs of sickness). It is crucial in treating and maintaining a long life for your cat.
Why do pet parents fail to take their cats to the veterinary hospital for routine checkups?
More than half the domesticated cats in our country have not been evaluated in the past year by a veterinarian. This statistic is startling and needs to be addressed. The most common reason why pet parents fail to take their cats to the veterinarian is stress. Trips to the vet bring on stress for the cat and stress for the parents in trying to catch and place their cat in a carrier and transport them safely to the animal hospital. Cats do not like change and can become very upset when forced to leave their home.
In addition to the high stress nature of cats, their independent nature tends to keep pet parents away from the vet hospital. Unlike dogs, cats do not demand the attention or require as much work. They can come across to us as not needing attention or care.
Do not let this personality trait fool you. Independence should not equate to less attention or lack of wellness visits.
My top tips on making your trip to the vet less stressful for your cat:
1. Receive Vet Visits at Home
Some vet hospitals offer mobile services and come to your home to evaluate your cat. So just ask your veterinarian if they offer these services. Removing the stress of transport can significantly improve your cat’s overall demeanor for veterinary visits.
2. Tackle Cat Carrier Avoidance
Cats are very smart and know that when the carrier comes out, they will be leaving their home. They often find a great hiding spot and stay there all day to avoid the carrier. I always recommend keeping the carrier away until you are ready to go to the veterinary hospital.
3. Use a Mild Sedative
Ask your veterinarian whether your cat is a candidate for a sedative. Many times, these medications take the edge off and relieve some stress.
4. Use an Enclosed Carrier
Never assume your cat will do better without being in a carrier. When cats get scared, whether from a barking dog or a new place, they tend to run away to hide. Often times, the choice of a hiding spot is outside in a parking lot. Always bring your cat to the veterinary hospital in an enclosed carrier for their safety and yours.
5. Request an Immediate Examination Room
Ask your veterinarian whether they can bring your cat into an exam room when you arrive at the animal hospital. A loud waiting room can cause undue stress and anxiety for your cat.
Final Thoughts on Cat Vet Visits
I hope this post inspires you to take your cat to your veterinarian for a routine check-up. These adorable little guys rely on us to provide them with the healthiest lives. The long-term health benefits for your cat far outweigh a day of stress and anxiety. I always tell my pet parents that your cat may not realize it, but you are providing them the best and longest life possible. A moment of stress is definitely worth it in the end.
As always, your pet’s health and wellness are my top priorities, so I strongly encourage you to make an appointment with your vet today!