Has your Cat been to the Vet Recently?
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According to recent studies by the American Veterinary Medical Association and American Pet Products Association, the number of feline veterinary visits is declining steadily each year. Compared with dogs, almost three times as many cats haven’t received veterinary care in the past year! Making that number even more alarming is that the number of pet cats far outnumbers the number of pet dogs in the U.S.: there are 82 million pet cats in the U.S., compared with 72 million dogs.
Getting cats to the hospital is often a struggle in itself. Avoiding extra stress during the hospital visit is not only beneficial to your cat but also helpful to your vet’s staff. Believe me, your veterinarian wants these visits to be as low stress as possible for everyone!
Because cats tend to hide sickness, I recommend at least once yearly examinations and periodic baseline labwork diagnostics for every cat under 7, and ideally, twice yearly exams for cats over the age of 7, or for those who are at higher risk of disease (such as obese cats or cats that go outdoors).
Here are some useful tips to help your cat receive regular veterinary care:
1.) Reduce the stress of transportation
All cats should be transported in a carrier. A couple of suggestions to familiarize your cat with the carrier:
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· Leave the carrier out in the house for casual investigation
· Hide food, treats, or catnip inside the carrier
· Cover the carrier with a towel in the car and clinic to reduce visual stimulation
· Consider using a carrier that can be unscrewed and opened by lifting off the top – the cat can be examined while still in the bottom part of the crate, helping him or her to feel more secure. I lovingly call this “Cat on the half shell”!
2.) Calming your Cat during travel and the vet visit
Some owners ask about using sedatives to “calm” their cats. I typically do not recommend using any sedative before transportation because your cat cannot be properly monitored during the drive, and because sedatives can be unpredictable in their effects. Place an item from home, such as a recently worn t-shirt, into the carrier, and talk calmly to your cat while transporting him/her.
Cover the carrier. In addition, I recommend using Rescue Remedy, which is an all-natural calming drop that can be given to your cat or placed in the cat’s water prior to transportation. I also recommend using Feliway Spray, a natural cat phermone, on the carrier and towel. The pheromone will help calm your cat safely. Most importantly, it is crucial that you remain calm and relaxed during the trip, and that you do not convey your own stress or anxiety to your cat.
3.) Once at the hospital
Let the staff you know have arrived. Keep the carrier covered. If possible, place the carrier on a table rather than the floor (if sturdy enough so the carrier will not fall) – this will make your cat feel more secure. Try to keep your cat separated from other pets, and ask to be placed into an exam room as soon as possible. Once in the exam room, place the carrier on the table, and do not look directly into his/her eyes. Speak soothingly, and stroke the chin and back of neck of he or she will permit affection.
Aggressive or panicky cats can be gently wrapped in a towel during the examination. The restrain can help calm your cat and minimize struggle. It’s important that your vet never “fight” with cats, although sometimes a small amount of restraint is necessary. If your cat cannot be calmed enough for a good physical exam, and is in good health, it’s possible a small amount of isoflurane gas can be used permit handling and examination.
4.) Home Visits
For especially nervous or naughty cats, arrange a house call visit!
For more information, visit http://www.haveweseenyourcatlately.com/ and remember: Cats need care too!
Written by Dr. Laura Devlin Bacon
Dr. Laura is a veterinarian with Lap of Love. She lives in Knoxville Tennessee and assists families with in-home pet euthanasia in the greater Knoxville area, including Farragut, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge, Clinton, Lutterll, Maryville, Sevierville and Dandridge.