A 2009 study conducted by the cat litter company Feline Pine provided some alarming revelations about how rarely cats go to the vet. Of the 720 people who responded to the survey, more than a third of them only took their cat to the vet only if the animal was sick or injured. Worse yet, only 17 percent had their cats regularly vaccinated against rabies and distemper. In order to raise awareness about the importance of annual vet visits, the company started an education campaign, National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day. That day is Wednesday, Aug. 22, and here are four important reasons for regular check-ups.
1. Early warning
Yearly physical exams allow your vet to detect early warning signs for health problems. For example, a heart murmur could lead to heart failure or be a sign of thyroid disease; and dental disease could lead to systemic infections that damage the liver, kidneys, or heart.
If you live in the United States, it’s required by law that you vaccinate your cat against rabies. If your cat isn’t up to date on her rabies vaccine and she is bitten by a rabid animal, she will almost certainly end up being put down. There are a couple of other "core" vaccines that cats should get as well. Your vet will work with you to tailor a vaccine plan appropriate to your cat’s lifestyle and make sure she doesn’t get unnecessary vaccines.
Yearly exams will help your vet get to know your cat, and you. Cats can’t tell people what hurts or why they don’t feel well. The better your vet knows your cat’s regular weight, coat condition, and personality, the better she’ll be able to find out what’s wrong with your cat when you bring him in because he’s "not acting right."
4. Trust and communication
Regular vet visits will help you feel more comfortable with your cat’s veterinarian. The more you see your vet handling your cat and the more you talk to her, the more you’ll come to trust her. Building trust in your vet when your cat is happy and healthy will go a long way toward helping you cope, and trust in your vet’s skills and abilities, if your cat ever needs emergency care or becomes seriously ill.