According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there are 81.7 million owned cats versus 72 million owned dogs. That makes cats the #1 companion animal, outnumbering dogs by almost 10 million individuals. And yet, based on the number of veterinary visits, cats appear to receive less care than dogs, even though their needs in regard to the level of care are similar.
Why do cats receive less veterinary care?
There are a few different theories and nobody really knows the true answer.
- There is concern that cat owners simply do not realize that their cats need the same level of veterinary care that their dogs receive.
- Many cats mask signs of their illness when they are not feeling well, making symptoms of disease quite subtle and difficult to spot. This may play a role in the decreased number of veterinary visits for cats versus dogs.
- For many cat owners, getting their cat to the veterinarian can be a challenge. Sometimes, just getting a cat in his carrier can be difficult. A lot of cats become quite anxious in the veterinary office as well; something cat owners do not typically like to put their cats through. The accompanying video, provided by Catalyst Council, can help solve that problem. It offers tips and solutions for making your cat’s carrier more inviting to your cat.
What type of veterinary care do cats need?
All cats should be examined regularly by their veterinarian. An examination should be a thorough check of your cat’s entire body, including his mouth, eyes, ears, nose, throat, skin, heart, lungs, external genitalia, palpable lymph nodes, abdomen and musculature. An evaluation of body condition should be made each visit also to determine whether your cat is at his ideal weight or is instead thin or overweight.
Young kittens usually need to complete a series of vaccinations and wormings, need to be spayed or neutered, and should be tested for feline leukemia and feline AIDS so they usually need to visit the veterinarian every 3-4 weeks in the early months. Routine blood testing may be recommended, particularly prior to the spay/neuter surgery. Fecal testing should be performed to make sure your kitten is free of parasites. Your veterinarian will want to evaluate your feeding program and schedule. She will be able to advise of any other care your kitten needs as well.
Young adult cats should be examined at least once a year. Some veterinarians recommend examinations every six months. They need vaccinations, administered on a schedule tailored to fit their individual needs. Fecal tests should be performed regularly, at least once yearly. Routine blood and urine testing may be recommended as well.
For older cats, more frequent examinations may be recommended. An examination at least every 6 months to a year at a minimum is recommended but many senior cats have health issues that mandate more frequent checks. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you. Likely, blood and urine testing will be recommended for your senior cat. Fecal testing should be performed regularly as well. Vaccinations, again tailored to suit your cat’s individual lifestyle, may need to be administered.
Other testing, such as radiographs (x-rays) and/or ultrasounds, may be needed to test for specific diseases and conditions if suspected by your veterinarian.