No one is perfect and neither is their cat. But there are things you should know and your vet is probably not going to tell you.
- Vaccines have been in the news lately and many people have strong opinions for and against vaccines. All cats need vaccines, but a vaccine protocol is not one size fits all. If your vet does not do a risk assessment for each individual animal, he/she is not doing right by your cat. The secret here (that more vets are starting to explain) is not every cat needs every available vaccine every year.
- Veterinary professionals make recommendations for the preventive care to keep cats healthy. We have excellent means to protect them from many preventable diseases. Intestinal/external parasites and many infectious diseases have effective and convenient preventive strategies. What your vet may not tell you is that if your cat succumbs to one of these diseases or disorders, it is your fault.
- Many cats are lost and injured every year. It is our responsibility as a cat parent to make sure that our environment is safe and he or she is restrained and identified. I see cats killed and injured by cars and other cats frequently. Accidents happen, but if your cat is adequately restrained, you are minimizing risk. Cats kept indoors are more protected from loss and injury. It isn’t really a secret, but your vet won’t come out and tell you that if your pet runs loose, his risk of death is great.
- If your cat is overweight, it is a problem. Studies show that animals that are kept at a normal body condition live longer than their overweight counterparts. Complications like diabetes accompany obesity for cats. I go into exam rooms with obese pets and sometimes the owners are overweight also. It makes me uncomfortable to discuss weight management and diet choices in these cases. Occasionally the owner will even comment wryly about their own weight. Your choices are your choices. You can take a calculated risk and decide if the food item (or amount) is worth any potential adverse consequence, but your cat cannot. He or she eats what you give, for better or for worse. The secret your vet is not going to tell you- You are the reason that your cat overeats.
- Sadly a lot of cats surrendered to shelters have behavior issues, the most common of which is inappropriate urination. A large portion of these have or had a medical component that should have been addressed by a veterinarian. If your cat associates his litter box with pain and you do not notice, he can learn to urinate elsewhere in an attempt to self-treat. Pay attention to your cat and seek help at the first sign of trouble and better yet, make sure your cat never misses a routine healthy visit when your vet can explore things you are not aware of. The secret here (that the vet may not want to offend you with) is that you may ultimately be the one responsible for your pet’s undesirable behavior.
I am telling you these secrets and what you can do to use the knowledge for the best life for your cat when your vet might be afraid to insult you. Take responsibility for your pet’s diet, preventive care and restraint. Make sure that your veterinarian is taking the time to tailor her recommendations to your pet’s individual lifestyle and needs. Follow preventive care guidelines religiously. It is a shame for a pet to suffer needlessly from a preventable issue. Do your best to create and maintain a habitat that encourages your cat’s health and happiness. Seek help. Veterinarians, behaviorists, and animal trainers can be an excellent resource to build a healthy bond with your pet. Ask questions of actual professionals you know and trust. Knowledge is power, but not all knowledge is accurate.
About The Vet: Dr. Kathryn Primm is a practicing small animal veterinarian. She has consulted on articles for national magazines, done numerous radio interviews and appeared on local television. She has contributed to an article for Prevention magazine and Woman’s Day in Feb 2014 and June 2015 on shelves now.
She has a social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and enjoys interaction with others about her passions, animals and communication. She is a regular contributor to Boomeon, the online community which can be found at www.boomeon.com . She has also written a book, Tennessee Tails:Pets and Their People. The book received recognition as Runner Up in the Memoirs category at a national book festival. You can read more about Dr. Primm and how to get the best value for your pet care dollar at her website, www.drprimm.com.