Today is a great reminder about the importance of regular vet visits for our feline companions.
By Annie Butler Shirreffs
Cats are also notorious for hiding symptoms of illness and injury, and many people don’t realize their beloved pet is sick until it’s too late. Regular vet visits are so important for our cats’ health, but, as we all know, getting the cat to the vet can be a feat in itself. That’s one reason many cats don’t see the vet as often as they should. And that’s where National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day comes in – it’s the perfect opportunity to schedule your cat’s routine exam.
I talked to Dr. Catherine Lenox, who is currently regulatory veterinary manager at Royal Canin USA, about the importance of National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day and how we can reduce the stress of vet visits for our cats – and us!
Why is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day so important?
More than 42 million households across the United States own cats, so it’s no surprise that cats are the pet of choice for many Americans. But what is surprising is that less than half of those cats see the vet on a regular basis. While there is not a single reason why cat owners don’t always take their cats to the vet, a study by Royal Canin showed that nearly half of cat owners reported they would be more willing to take their cat to the vet if it was easier and less stressful for them and their cat. Additionally, because cats are masters of disguise, cat owners often don’t take their cat to the vet until the cat is visibly ill. Royal Canin, along with other leading cat-focused organizations, is working to raise awareness about the importance of preventive veterinary care by encouraging cat owners to make their cats’ annual vet appointment.
No one likes going to the doctor, but cats seem to be especially terrified of vet visits. Why is that?
Often times cats are not comfortable being transported, starting from the process of getting them into their carriers. So, right from the beginning, the process is stressful for both the cat and the owner. And, once the cat gets to the veterinary clinic, there may be some stressful experiences, including being around dogs in the waiting room, sitting on the exam table and being touched if they are not used to it.
What are some clever ways pet parents can make vet visits easier on their cats?
There are several things a cat owner can do in advance of a vet visit. The first is getting the cat comfortable with the carrier. Some cat owners keep their carriers out year-round similar to a piece of furniture so that the cat is not experiencing a carrier for the first time when visiting their vet. Pheromone wipes and sprays, such as those made by Feliway, are great natural ways to calm cats and reduce their stress levels. Also, because some cats may not be accustomed to being touched, cat owners should make time to brush cats or just pet them on a daily basis so they will not be so fearful of a veterinarian’s touch.
What should your veterinarian be doing to make visits easier? And what are some signs that he or she is a cat-friendly vet?
There are designated certifications for veterinary practices that are welcoming of cats, but any clinic can make some simple changes to be more feline friendly. Simple changes could be locations in waiting rooms to place cat carriers so the cat is not at the eye level of dogs. Additionally, some clinics have separate cat entrances, and others have separate exam rooms for cats. Clinics can place towels on the exam tables to be more comfortable for cats and even treat cats in areas separated from dogs and other strange noises.
Where do you hope we’ll be in five years as far as cats getting regular vet exams?
My ultimate goal, of course, would be that all cats see the veterinarian on a regular basis. In the next five years, we would love to see the statistics moving in the right direction – that Royal Canin and our partners have made a difference in getting more cats to see the veterinarian on a regular basis and that this momentum continues in the years to come.