They say nothing is more American than apple pie and football. Now, felines can be added to that list as well. With 86 million cats owned in the United States, cats have surpassed dogs by 10 million to become America’s #1 companion animal.
Unfortunately, those numbers are not reflected in veterinary visits. Sadly, 27% of feline owners only take their cat to the vet when the cat is sick; 10% of owners do not take their cat to the vet at all.
Cats are often acquired informally and we often hear clients tell us, “The cat found me." Because 35% of all cats are obtained as strays, owners receive little to no instruction on proper care for their new kitty. The good news is most owners still value their cat as a “member of the family,” so we can turn this trend around.
Veterinary care may be even more important for cats for the following reasons.
When it comes to health care, assumptions are made that cats are self-sufficient and independent. This simply just isn’t true! Cats are skilled at masking illness. Even the most observant owners can be challenged to identify the subtle signs of illness in cats. Early signs of illness may only be discovered during a physical exam or on screening laboratory tests. Sadly, when cats do manifest illness, it is often misinterpreted as a “behavioral” issue by the owner and trips to the vet are delayed.
It is also a common mistake for owners to believe that indoor cats don’t get sick. Anytime an indoor cat steps out onto a deck, visits the garage, or sits beside a screened window, they have an increased risk of exposure to parasites and pests. And those parasites are tricky! They may come inside on the dog, on our shoes, or the shoes of guests.
Another overlooked source of danger to cats is potting soil in the plants around our home. 15% of commercial potting soil contains roundworm eggs which cats can be exposed to after playing/digging in the plants in our home.
And don’t forget those pests! Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and rodents are all attracted to the comfort our homes provide, and these pests can serve as hosts for feline parasites. Cats that hunt bugs or mice may catch more than just a snack! The bottom line is, parasite transmission and disease develop regardless of where a cat lives.
Perhaps the most common reason cats are left behind is the perception that the whole procedure is just “too stressful”. The good news is there are a number of ways to limit stress.
- Pheromone collars and sprays are natural, calming hormones that decrease stress associated with travel.
- Buying a carrier that is large enough for your cat so that he or she can easily be moved in and out will eliminate large amounts of stress.
- Asking to be put in a room right away to decrease your cat’s time in the front lobby will also make the trip less stressful.
- Asking your vet to make a house call, removing travel time and the need to be in a carrier, is also a valuable stress reducer for cats and their owners.
There is no doubt that cats enrich our lives. A whole lot of people (about 86 million Americans) love and cherish one or more feline friends. It does seem that cats must be man’s best friend! Join us in spreading the word on the importance of routine feline health care, making them man’s HEALTHIEST best friend!
Don't let your feline friend be forgotten because of stress. Badger Veterinary Hospital offers house call services. Schedule your house call appointment today!