Just like dogs, cats require annual vaccinations and prevention to keep them healthy and happy. However, on average, cats see much less of their veterinarian than their canine counterparts - why is that? While some claim that it is near impossible to get their cat to the vet (crating an angry kitty is much easier said that done), some cat owners assume that their cat's "indoor only" status protects them from a lot of the diseases or parasites veterinarians warn against. Unfortunately, this misconception prevents countless cats from getting preventative care each year, resulting in disease and illness that could have been avoided. Here we discuss some of the common reasons we don't see our feline patients as often as we would like.
I can't get my cat into the carrier.
Getting your cat into a carrier when they don't want to go can be very tricky. We recommend getting your cat into a room where they aren't able to hide (trying to pull an anxious kitty out from under the bed isn't a great way to start the day) and getting them into the carrier as fast as possible. To do this, have the carrier open and ready before you attempt to pick up your cat. There are a number of different carrier types with different latches and doors to try, so you can experiment and see what carrier will work best for your cat.
Alternatively, "cat bags" are becoming more popular, and can be easier to get your cat into. The bag allows your cat to hide without feeling confined by a traditional carrier, it zips up and can be carried on your shoulder like a purse! Please note that these cat bags are made with a special breathable material to safely contain your cat. For safety purposes, we do not advise zipping your cat up in a bag that is not intended for cats. A variety of cat-safe bags in different patterns are available for purchase online.
If you have time leading up to your cat's appointment, it is best to do some things to help get your cat to see the carrier as a safe place. Pull the carrier out days or weeks before you need to take your cat somewhere. Some people even leave the carrier out all the time. This allows them to get used to the carrier, and they stop seeing it as an object that immediately triggers stress. You can also feed or offer treats to your cat in the carrier so that they increasingly see the carrier as a safe place. Lots of cats, when given the time, learn to see the carrier as a safe place that they willingly enter.
They always get sick/go to the bathroom during car rides.
Unfortunately, there is not always a solution to your cat vomiting or defecating in their carrier during car rides. This behavior is a natural response to stress or anxiety, so the best approach to avoiding this issue is to minimize your cat's anxiety. If your cat consistently gets sick during car rides, we recommend bringing extra towels and laying down a towel or mat under the carrier to avoid an mess in the car. You can also discuss anti-anxiety medications with your veterinarian to help put your cat at ease.
It stresses my cat out to be at the vet.
We all want the best for our pets. While going to the vet can be stressful for your cat, it is in their best interest to receive regular veterinary care. There are several different options you can pursue to try and make the visit less stressful, including calming medications and natural remedies for stress such as Feliway spray or wipes. Your veterinarian may prescribe calming medications that can be given before your pet's appointment to prevent or minimize anxiety, allowing for a quick and easy appoint for your cat. Some cat's are leary and nervous of veterinary visits at first but over time some learn to trust our staff and the stressful visits become a thing of the past. We always strive to give your pet the best possible experience while they are at the clinic.
I don't want the staff to get bit - my cat can be cranky around strangers.
We appreciate you thinking of our staff! However, our staff are trained and experienced in how to handle even the most fractious of cats and dogs, so please don't worry about the safety of our staff members. Our veterinarians prioritize the safety of everyone involved and will make any necessary suggestions for sedation if deemed necessary to proceed. If your cat is consistently cranky at every annual visit, speak to your veterinarian about calming medications that can be given at home prior to your cat's appointment.
My cat never goes outside.
A lot of people assume that because their cat never goes outside, they don't need to worry about diseases or parasites that exist in the outside world. However, many fail to consider that a lot of those things can be brought into the house - by us! For this reason, it is important that all cats be on monthly prevention to protect against fleas, ticks, heartworms, mites, and intestinal parasites. All it takes is one pesky mosquito or flea to affect your cat's health.
My cat has never seemed sick enough to need to go to the vet.
While we are thrilled to hear that your cat has lived a very healthy life so far, veterinary care is not just for curing illness. Our veterinarians practice and promote preventative medicine to keep your pets from getting sick, but also to detect any changes or abnormalities in your pet's health early on. Because we spend so much time with our pets, it can be difficult for us to notice any kind of gradual change in our pet's overall health. When your cat goes to the vet, they are examined for nose to tail and all exam findings are documented by your veterinarian. Regular visits allow your vet to identify any trends or changes in your pet's health, such as weight gain/loss, abnormal heart/ lungs sounds, any new or changing lumps, coat quality, and so much more. It is also important to note that our feline patients are the best at hiding when they are not feeling well. Often times when you notice that your cat is not feeling well the disease process has been present for some time. Routine vet visits can help catch things early before they start showing signs of disease.
My cat needs to be sedated every time they go to the vet.
Unfortunately, being handled at the vet can be too stressful for some cats without sedation. Sedation not only allows your cat to relax for their own safety, but also allows your vet to perform a more thorough physical exam. Being able to touch your cat, perform blood draws, or administer vaccines are all essential to your cat's health and well-being. Things like routine blood work or listening to your cat's heart can provide crucial information about the functioning or your cat's organs. Heart disease or problems with the abdominal organs can be identified through these diagnostics, so it is important that your veterinarian is able to safely perform them at your cat's annual visit.