Cats Need Regular Veterinary Care. Why Aren’t They Getting It?

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A new survey from pet nutrition company Royal Canin finds that only 41 percent take their cat to the vet for regular checkups.

In fact, only one cat is seen by a veterinarian for every five dogs, despite the fact that 10 million more cats are owned in the United States.

Carrie Ann Inaba, choreographer, host, owner of three cats and founder of The Animal Project Foundation, is joining Royal Canin in an effort to stop to this cat neglect.

We know our cats are smart and expressive, never hesitating to let us know how they feel about every situation,” joked Inaba. “So it may be easy to forget that they cannot always communicate to us about their hidden health issues.”

Indeed, cats are known for hiding pain. They can suffer for years without their humans ever knowing that proper vet care could relieve pain, add to quality of life and help cats to lead longer lives.

Veterinary visits should not be limited to treating an illness or pain. Preventive care through annual or semi-annual visits is critical to a cat’s overall health and well-being.

Veterinarians can learn important details about a cat’s medical history and behaviors, monitor body weight, ensure vaccinations are current and discuss nutrition, the number one topic cat owners are interested in talking to a vet about, according to Royal Canin’s survey.

The survey found that:

  • 68 percent of cat owners feel that cats are healthier than dogs.
  • When asked why cat owners don’t take their cat to the vet more often, financial burden is the primary reason (40 percent), while 31 percent of people responded it’s because they believe their cat doesn’t need to go.
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) say they would take their cat more often to the vet if it was easier to do so.
  • Men are actually more likely to be found at the vet’s office than women. Thirty-four percent of male cat owners visit the vet more than once per year, compared to just one in four women (26 percent).

Royal Canin offers these tips for cat owners:

  1. Understand your cat’s behavior. The veterinarian’s office is unfamiliar and has sights, sounds, and smells that can cause your cat to feel anxious or fearful. Cover their carrier with a towel to help block the sight of other animals and dampen the unfamiliar sounds. Respect your cat’s need for time to acclimate to the new environment.
  2. Help your cat become comfortable with the carrier. Place the carrier in a room at home where your cat spends most of their time and equip it with familiar soft bedding as well as special toys.
  3. Get the best carrier for your cat. Secure, stable, hard-sided carriers that open from the top and the front, and can also be taken apart in the middle, are best for your cat.
  4. Take your cat to a Cat Friendly Practice. These veterinary practices have made specific changes to decrease the stress and provide a more calming environment for you and your cat.
  5. Keep peace in a multi-cat household. Leave the returning cat in the carrier for a few minutes to see how all your cats react to unfamiliar smells, and separate if there are signs of tension.

We’ll add one tip: get your cat acclimated to veterinary care at a young age. This will help to make regular veterinary care a more stress (and scratch)-free experience for everyone concerned.

Also, let’s repeat that bit about cats hiding pain. One big problem for cats is tooth decay, which can cause constant pain (especially when eating), and lead to bigger health, (and behavioral) problems.

Cats will also hide other pain-causing conditions. However, a cat in pain can exhibit strange behavior nonetheless – such as avoiding contact or reacting aggressively to being touched in certain ways. A trip to the vet can often uncover the real reasons why your cat is behaving strangely.

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