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Ask A Vet: Does My Healthy Cat Really Need To See A Vet?

Some cat owners seem to think that as long as their cats seem healthy, they don’t need to go to the vet. As a veterinarian and a cat owner and lover, it just isn’t true. I am not saying this just because I am a vet and I want the business. This article is reaching people who would be geographically prohibited from bringing their cats to me. I am saying this because cats are so cool and they are under served.

Cats are the most popular pet in the US, but are not the pet that vets are seeing the most. I don’t think it is because people don’t see cats as important. I think it is just that they do not know how important vet visits are to the health of the cats.

I have a client who has a terrific dog. I have cared for this dog since he was adopted from a shelter years ago. He is a very regular visitor to my hospital, both for preventive care, boarding and grooming. We all love the dog and his people. Over all these visits and all these years, we never knew that they had a cat, until the day that she became so sick that they decided that she really needed to see us. There are so many reasons why this was not the ideal situation for the cat.

The first problem is that if your cat only travels in the car when it is sick, it will come to associate the car/carrier with bad things. Then when you really need to take the cat somewhere, the trip is more stressful for you both. You can teach your cat not to fear its carrier, the car or the vet if you don’t wait until the cat is so sick that she has to spend the whole day with us, getting poked and prodded, radiographed or operated on. If your cat has never seen the vet except the day it was spayed or neutered, how can she have good memories and be unafraid?

The second issue is that cats hide disease because in nature, only the strongest survive and illness can target an animal for predators. Your cat is going to disguise his weakness as long as he can. Once it is so bad that he can’t hide it anymore, it might be too late for anything to be done. You see your cat every day and you might not notice subtle weight loss or signs of disease that may stand out to me. Your cat is actively trying to hide issues, like his life depends on it because to him, it does.

The third issue is that a veterinarian needs to see your cat when things are normal to establish a baseline for your cat as she grows older and becomes more likely to have health problems. A veterinarian will see your cat with new and trained eyes. He or she will examine parts of your cat you would not think to check. Clients tell me all the time that they “never noticed that”. Seeing the vet is not just for vaccines anymore. There are issues about whether or not to give vaccines and which are appropriate for which cats. It is not wise to do an internet search and accept the first headline you see. These matters are too important to be left to the advice of cyber column (not even this one). You need a real live person to advise you and your specific cat.

Remember, prevention and early detection are critical for good vigor and long life for everyone. Your cat needs to see a flesh and blood veterinarian at least once a year, so he/she can know you and your cat for ongoing and future good health.

 

vet thumbnailAbout The Vet: Dr. Kathryn Primm is a small animal veterinarian. She owns a busy practice in Tennessee and loves sharing all kinds of animal facts and fun. She has consulted on articles for national magazines, done numerous radio interviews and appeared on local television. She has contributed to an article for Woman’s Day in Feb 2014 and Prevention magazine, April 2015.

She has a social media presence on TwitterFacebook 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.

 

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Written by Dr. Kathryn Primm
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