If, like me, you share your life with one or more feline companions, you know what lovable and interesting creatures they are. My own cats, Turdie and Olivia, are sweet, loving, and affectionate, and they both have unique silly streaks that keep us laughing daily.
As easy as they are to care for (compared to my dog, Chilly), some of the routine aspects of life with cats aren’t typically something that cats or cat parents look forward to. Namely, vet visits.
To remind us of the importance of vet visits in caring for our cats’ health, August 22 is Take Your Cat to the Vet Day. Does it surprise you that it’s necessary to have a day to raise awareness of the need to schedule wellness visits for our feline friends?
Amazingly enough, even though there are more cats than dogs in the US, cats visit the vet far less often than dogs. In fact, according to one study, only half as many cats as dogs get regular check-ups.
Why Cats Don’t Get to the Vet
Of course, this isn’t because pet parents care any less about our cats’ welfare than we do about our dogs’. It’s more likely due to a variety of other factors, including the way cats are usually brought into the family. The majority of cats are acquired at no cost, and many of them are adopted without prior planning (“he just showed up at the door one day”). As a result, owners receive little or no instruction on care compared with dogs who are adopted from a breeder or rescue.
Another reason is that, even though cats are at risk for many health conditions, including hyperthyroidism, dental disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and cancer, they are also much more adept than dogs at hiding any signs of injury or illness. Add this skill to their reputation for being self-sufficient and independent, and many cat parents simply don’t see the need to schedule regular vet visits.
A third reason that many people avoid taking their cats to the vet is that, let’s face it, it’s not usually a pleasant experience for anyone involved. If you’ve ever tried to coax a cat who has suddenly accessed his inner mountain lion into a crate, you know what I’m talking about! Vet visits are frequently a source of stress for both animal and owner.
The Fear Free Initiative
Thankfully, vet visits don’t have to be miserable ordeals for felines and their humans. “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker, has developed a system that’s designed to “take the pet out of petrified” when it comes to vet visits. His Fear Free Initiative is intended to get veterinary practices certified as Fear Free practices, meaning they take all precautions and make all efforts to make feline veterinary visits stress free (or at least a lot less stressful!).
Even if your vet isn’t Fear Free certified (yet!), there are things that you can do to make a vet appointment much less stressful for your kitty. A smooth visit starts well before you walk in the office door.
If it’s been a while since Fluffy’s last vet visit, Take Your Cat to the Vet Day is the perfect time to go ahead and schedule an appointment. You’ll be glad you did—after all, you want to ensure that your kitty lives a long healthy life purring by your side!
Guest post by Kristen Levine Pet Living, the place for stories, science & advice for living happier and healthier with pets.