Cats have outnumbered dogs in companion pet numbers in America! According to the AVMA - American Veterinary Medical Association's Pet Ownership and Demographics sourcebook there are 82 million cats vs. 72 million dogs in the U.S. Yet, despite our love of these furry felines, and this increasing popularity, cats are getting the short end of the veterinary well care stick! Most cat owners consider their kitties members of their families and want to do what's best for them but it's kind of a hard sell. Cat's just don't seem to want to advertise their weaknesses or illnesses to us. Yes, kittens see their veterinary health care team monthly during their pediatric visits getting their preventative vaccinations and deworming medications because we want to protect them just like our children who also get their vaccinations and medical attention in similar intervals. But then, just like kids, there's a period of time when there are no vaccinations to update; kids see their docs when they're sick: or well maybe they see their dentist a little while longer until they get all their teeth in and/or need braces. Our human preventative screening programs don't generally start till we're 20 or 30 or 40 years old. Well, that equals the time in a cat's life between the ages of about 2 years and 10 years! Quite a span of time when you think about it.
It's quite a hard sell to get cats into our veterinary hospitals for well care when they just don't seem to be sick. And forget about the "getting them here": yowling and puking and peeing and pooping: oh, what great fun! But, it's because they hide their illness, pain, and sickness really well that it's even more important for us cat owners (yes, I have 4 of my own besides all my patients: which are mine , too!) to be hyper- vigilent and proactive about preventative care for our pussy cats.
Compared to dogs, our cats see their veterinarians less: almost less than half as often as dogs. And cat owners are not stupid, it's just cats may act in ways that we may not recognize or appreciate as problems which may include:
-changes in interactions with us or their house mates
-change in activity: increased or decreased (can cats really sleep more than the 23.5 hours they do now?)
-change in eating habits:becoming more finicky or vomiting more
-change in water intake: drinking more or less
-unexpected weight gain or weight loss
-bad breath which besides a signal of dental disease can be a clue to important internal disorders such as diabetes, kidney disease, liver problems.
-changes in grooming habits
-changes in sleep habits or sleep/wake cycles: mixing up day and night
-changes in vocalizations: purrs/meows/voice
-changes in litter box useage
So for cat owners we are trying harder to partner with you to change the way we provide our health care services to our cats.
We're all about making our veterinary practice more cat friendly, safer, and more relaxing. We try to minimize their stress when they get here, escorting them into a separate waiting area in our exam rooms so that they're not facing dogs glaring at them. We use padded non slick surfaces so they're not afraid to come out and be petted. We even use "aromatherapy" of sorts when we use Feliway pheromone diffusers to give them the smell of comfort to reduce their anxiety. We talk softly and we proceed slowly giving our cats a chance to get to know us. We also have dedicated hospital areas and boarding areas for cats within our hospital.
We know cat owners want to be smart about their cats but if we don't get a chance to see you and your cat, we miss important chances to educate you about the importance of wellness care. Cats are masters at hinding illness and pain, so that they may be really sick before anyone realizes. Routine regular examinations, dental assessments, and well-care monitoring is just as important as protective, appropriate vaccination programs and parasite control (by the way it hasbeen reporoted that 15% of potting soil we buy commercially for use in our homes may contain intestinal parasite eggs!). And, don't forget about age related changes like arthritis which can eaily be missed (a survey of X-rays performed on cats for a variety of reasons showed joint changes that were not apparent in daily living activities until we specifically asked about these changes!).
So lets become CATalysts for our feline friends: let your pet's vet and the animal health care team help you keep your cat in purr-fect shape. We can be important sources of information and advice if you let us. We want to improve our patient health care, extending their lives comfortably while ensuring a commitment to you and your cat that is individualized and tailored to make your visit a more enjoyable and informed experience. We love cats at Animal Health Care: let us show your cat how: