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