Every year on August 22, we celebrate national “Take your Cat to the Vet Day.” If you haven’t done it yet this year, today is the day to pick up the phone and make your cat’s yearly veterinary appointment. But, of course, not everyone will. In fact, almost ten percent of cats in America never see the vet. This can have serious consequences.
Your cat may seem just fine to you. Sadly, there is no way to tell if your cat is healthy and free of pain just by looking at him or her. Your cat might be sick and in pain without you even knowing. You see, cats don’t show pain and discomfort until it is extreme. At your yearly visit, your vet will perform a physical exam which might find sources of pain and discomfort. Once identified, the vet can help treat the pain and get your cat feeling better.
At your veterinary visit, your cat will be weighed. If your cat has previously been to the vet, your vet will compare that weight to the previous weights to look for weight loss or weight gain trends. Did you know that only ten percent of people with a fat cat know that their cat is overweight? Your cat might be overweight, putting it at increased risk for diabetes, urinary disease and osteoarthritis, and even a shortened life span. A full sixty percent of cats in America are now overweight or obese. Together, you and your vet can talk about weight-loss strategies and diet choices.
Alternatively, your cat’s weight trends might show gradual weight loss. Unintentional weight loss can be a sign of illness. Your vet will evaluate your cat’s age, weight loss, and any other signs to determine the possible causes of weight loss. Your vet will then recommend the proper tests to figure out the exact cause. Weight loss can be one of the early signs of disease.
A thorough oral exam is part of your veterinarian’s routine physical. Many cats are silently suffering from painful dental disease. Your vet will be looking for gum disease, holes in your cat’s teeth, broken teeth and even for masses the may be growing in your cat’s mouth. Your vet will recommend the best plan to treat any oral abnormalities.
Your veterinarian can educate you about your cat’s behavioral health needs. Is your cat having problems like urinating outside of the litter box? Is your cat aggressive or destructive? These can be signs of stress. Cats need more than a litter box and a bowl to be happy and healthy. Your veterinarian can talk with you about enriching your cat’s environment to reduce stress.
Your veterinarian will also talk with you about what vaccines your cat needs, and which ones you can skip, based on your cat’s age and lifestyle. Even if your cat lives indoors only, he or she needs some vaccines to be healthy and protected under the law. All cats are required to be up to date on rabies vaccines. Crazy stuff happens – your cat comes in contact with another cat that is infected, or bats and raccoons get into your house and put your cat at risk!!!
Cats are at risk for fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, and heartworms. At your visit, your vet can help you assess parasites your cat may be carrying and how to treat or prevent them. Each requires different testing, ranging from a flea comb to blood or fecal exams. If your cat is found to have a parasite, your vet will choose a treatment that is safe and effective, based on your cat’s age, weight, and any health problems. Your vet will also design a follow-up plan to make sure the treatment was completely effective and to make sure that your cat is protected in the future.
About thirty percent of cat parents only make a veterinary appointment for their cat when their cat is visibly ill. When your cat has had no regular appointments, your vet will be missing a lot of information to make good decisions, like previous weights, baseline bloodwork, and your cat’s normal physical exam findings. Additionally, establishing good communication with your vet under the stress of an emergency situation can be very difficult without an established relationship.
So, don’t wait. Celebrate National “Take a Your Cat to the Vet Day” with a call to your vet to schedule your cat’s yearly visit. You will find that veterinarians today care about both the health and the emotional well-being of your cat. It is important to us that you and your cat have a positive and valuable experience at your next veterinary visit. Do it today!
Written by Dr. Liz Bales, who we are excited to announce will be collaborating with Modern Cat for all things cat health-related, stay tuned!
The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine graduate, Dr. Liz Bales, has only ever wanted to be a veterinarian. She has such a passion for her job, that she says if she weren’t a vet, she would be studying to become one. She loves “helping pets and the people who love them be happy and healthy! Helping people translate complicated medical information into practical tips on how to care for, and connect with their pets is the best part of her job” Not just a veterinarian, Dr. Bales shares her passion through writing, giving speeches, and appearing on shows such as Fox and Friends, ABC News, and Cheddar. She has even started her own company, Doc and Phoebe, and invented a revolutionary cat product—the Indoor Hunting Feeder.
Dr. Bales’ favorite quote reflects her love and compassion for animals: “When a human dies there is a bridge they must cross to enter into Heaven. At the head of the bridge waits every animal that human encountered during their lifetime. The animals, based on what they know of this person, decide which humans may cross the bridge…and which are turned away.” With this in mind, Dr. Bales tries to live every day by her grandfather’s advice: “These days are precious. Don’t waste them.”