A troubling trend has developed in Veterinary Medicine nationwide. Cats are now the number one house pet; yet, we veterinarians are seeing less and less of them.
Several reasons for this exist.
Generally, you can’t put a lead on them, have them jump in the car and take a trip to the see the doc. You have to get the carrier out only to realize that kitty has magically disappeared as she always does when the carrier comes out. Once you have crawled under the bed to retrieve her, you then go through the ritual of getting her in the carrier with your arms and legs intact.
Many cats are capable of acrobatic feats never before seen when faced with a vet or groomer visit.
The cat appears healthy, so why spend the money on that ‘expensive’ veterinary visit? Do you have that attitude with yourself or the kids? And, I’m yet to have an owner come in and tell me that kitty demanded a visit because of this rock she has in her urinary bladder. Further complicating this attitude is the fact that cats hide their illness until crisis stage. A perfect example is the cat with erosive lesions in their teeth. These lesions expose the nerve of the tooth yet very seldom does an owner notice the cat having trouble eating and chewing.
Our kitties can't tell us when their gums are sore, which is another reason why a vet check is important.
But probably the greatest reason we are seeing less visits for cats is modern vaccine protocols. Based on scientific veterinary research we have learned and moderated our vaccine use in cats. More is not necessarily good. Yes, kitten vaccine protocol is extremely important and yes, timely boosters are extremely important. However we have limited the number of adult vaccines. In our practice, the Rabies vaccine is given every 3 years. The old annual 4-in-1 vaccine for distemper and respiratory viruses are now given every other year. The Leukemia vaccine is given to kittens (after testing negative), a booster administered at 1 to 2 years of age and then usually never again. The impact of this is owners aren’t getting those vaccine reminder cards as often, which leads to less frequent wellness checks for your kitty.
The main reason for annual visits is the physical exam. This may lead to further diagnostics. We recommend annual blood profiles for 2 reasons.
These samples give us your pets’ normal levels, not the blood machine’s “normals”, and allow us to track the parameters as the years pass looking for bad trends. (Like liver or kidney function, blood glucose, etc.)
Did you say "normal?"
With technology we can do these profiles in our office, usually within 10 minutes and for a reasonable fee. You get the results before you even leave!
We also recommend biannual visits starting at 8 years of age. I suspect we will soon recommend twice a year visits for all ages.
Why twice or more times a year?
Let’s apply a little common sense to this question. The average lifespan for a well cared for cat nowadays is 15 to 17 years of age. A human’s average lifespan nowadays has reached well into the 80’s. That means that a cat’s body and mind physiologically change 6 to 7 times faster than humans. So, theoretically, if humans are supposed to have physical exams and blood work annually then cats should have the same every other month! We all know that isn’t reasonable. But, twice a year certainly is.
So, that’s it in a catnip shell, cat owners. Let’s get going on an appropriate healthcare program for the kitty. Call us for an appointment and together we’ll map out a program designed for your cat. And remember if that card or email has no due vaccines on it but says due for exam or other procedure call for an appointment.
Remember: A healthy cat is a happy cat.
This blog post was written by Dr. Miller and adorned with adorable cat pictures by Sarah M. We hope you enjoyed!