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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

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Can you believe that we’re looking at the beginning of a new year? To me, it seems like this year just started and here we are at the very end of it already. The coming of a new year is a great time to make resolutions — promises and wishes that we hope to follow through on in the coming year.

I think most of us consider the standard resolutions. Things like eating healthier and losing weight (for some of us anyway); those are the common resolutions. But I have one particular resolution that I’d love to see all cat owners embrace. Can you guess what it is? The resolution that I’d like to see all cat owners take to heart is to make sure that our cats get the veterinary attention that they need.

Why this particular resolution? For whatever reason, cats don’t seem to get the same amount of veterinary attention as their canine counterparts. People simply don’t take their cats to the veterinarian as often as they do their dogs, despite the fact that there are more cats than dogs that are kept as pets. That is a troubling statistic, and it is not good news for our cats.

There has been a lot of speculation about why dog owners appear to seek veterinary care for their dogs more often than cat owners. Some veterinarians and other experts believe that it may be partially because cat owners don’t realize that their pets need regular veterinary checks just like dogs. Organizations like the CATalyst Council are doing everything they can to change that through education, reaching out to "the pet healthcare community, shelter and welfare organizations, government, commercial groups, and the public — to ensure that cats receive the proper care and attention they need and deserve."

Many people speculate that one of the reasons that cats are seen less often than dogs in veterinary hospitals is the simple fact that, for many cat owners, getting their cat to the hospital is a hassle. And believe me, I get that. As a cat owner myself, I know how stressful that visit can be for both cat and owner. But, let’s face it, in the interest of keeping our cats healthy and making sure they live the longest, most comfortable life possible, regular veterinary visits are an absolute necessity.

Why are veterinary examinations important for your cat? For the same reason that you should visit your own doctor regularly. Many diseases are more easily treated if they are diagnosed early in their course. A routine examination and, if indicated, a standard blood screen, and perhaps a urinalysis, can spot subtle signs of disease before they become serious. Often, when found early, a simple treatment or even a small change in diet can delay progression of disease, and sometimes even cure it. 

So, that’s my New Year’s Resolution: To help convince cat owners of the need to make sure their cats get the best of care, including regular veterinary attention.

What about you? Will you join me in this resolution? Or do you have another resolution of your own that you would like to share?

Dr. Lorie Huston

Image: Hannamariah / via Shutterstock

Comments  5

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  • Just the Opposite
    12/26/2011 08:53am

    I have the opposite problem. I drag my critters to the doctor and the first sign of almost anything. (I once took Darlene to the doctor for meowing funny.)

    I'm sure the vet and staff have had several chuckles with my over-protectiveness, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

  • Lower Maintenance?
    12/26/2011 01:53pm

    In reading this article, I was not surprised. It seems to me that many people own cats because they are lower maintenance than dogs. This is certainly true of the people I know - they have primarily outdoor cats and the time spent together is a fraction of the time dog owners typically spend with their dogs. So if a cat owner appreciates the independence of their cat and enjoys the limited responsibility of feeding and playing with it on occasion, it seems to stand to reason that they aren't going to want to spend the time to take it to the vet unless necessary nor may not catch necessary indicators of illness due to limited interaction. I also suspect it is far easier to justify turning a blind eye to a possible issue when the relationship is limited to a few hours a day.

    All that said, I don't have a cat or want a cat so these are simply my observations from afar.

  • Cat's and Veterinary Care
    12/27/2011 02:28pm

    As a hyperbaric veterinary technician we definately see more dogs than cats however MANY pet owners bring their pets in for HBOT treatments. I wonder if the reluctance of cat owners to seek veterinary care is the result of "dog promotion"? It seems the majority of veterinary services are advertised with dogs for dogs. Cat owners need to rest assured their pets are just as important and MANY conditions can be treated successfully, especially in the field of Hyperbaric medicine. For more info visit: www.vho2.com

  • Taking our cats to the ve
    12/30/2011 11:59am

    I have both a dog and three cats. We aren't hypochondriac in our attention but I look out for sighs of any distress - a tilt of the head for ear infections, crying while using the little box for UTIs... And off to the vet we go. It is stressful for the furry babies but, it's likely a lot more stressful to be sick. All animals need the care of a vet at least annually and whenever there is the slightest sign of illness or pain. This was a great article. Thanks for speaking out for all of our kitty babiesand furry children.

  • EDUCATION is my resolutio
    01/24/2012 11:05am

    My Cat-related resolutions don't have regular vet trips or more exercise. That's part of regular care. My resolution is to help educate cat owners and dog owners about the misperceptions of stray and feral cats. Ever since I became involved in rescue I'm saddened by the critical lack of awareness. Hence I decided embarking on an education campaign was my goal for this year and years to come.Little did I know I would be spearheading a battle so early in the year as part of the process.

    On the New Year I learned that a management person at Loews hotels in Orlando, which had a model TRNM program (Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage)wants to get rid of the cats. It's so tragic. The program works. What were once 40 cats on one property are down to 8! The social adult cats and kittens were collected and adopted out and the feral ones live happily on acres of land, fed nightly by employees on their own time and out of their pocket.
    Hence I sounded the alarm and it made the Orlando Sentinel and USA Today. We may have one battle in getting Loews to stop trapping and euthanizing, but they still want to relocate the cats. I urge readers to learn about this situation and support our efforts to save the Loews cats. THANK YOU! To learn all history and current status, visit www.riverfrontcats.com

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