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Written by leading veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.

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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Pet health care is more sophisticated currently than it has ever been in the past. We have vaccines at our disposal to prevent many common viral diseases. We have flea and tick products that are more effective and more easily used than previous products. We have quality foods available that fit the needs of almost any pet and pet owner. We have a wide variety of technology that can detect many diseases early in their course when treatment is most likely to be successful. Despite all of this, preventable illnesses are still on the rise for our pet cats.

There are some very troubling statistics regarding cats and their health.

  • Obesity has increased with 58% of all cats reported to be either overweight or obese. Even more disturbingly, many cat owners are unable to recognize that their cat has a weight problem. The majority of cat owners with overweight or obese cats believe their cats to be within a normal weight range. Even more disturbingly, many people are amused by the image of a fat cat. Too often, the health risks involved with increased weight are overlooked or ignored by cat owners.
  • As a result of the weight issue, diseases like diabetes are on the rise as well. The incidence of diabetes in cats has increased by 16%, affecting roughly 64 of every 10,000 cats.
  • Dental disease also is a major problem for many cats. The majority of cats (70%) exhibit some degree of dental disease by three years of age. If left undiagnosed and/or untreated, the cat’s mouth will only get worse with age. Dental problems can be quite painful for an affected cat. Dental disease can easily impact your cat’s quality of life.
  • Fleas also are being seen more commonly in cats, with a 12% increase in the number of cats diagnosed with fleas. Fleas can cause a variety of problems for cats. Cats with flea allergies can become extremely uncomfortable as a result. Fleas can also carry parasites and other diseases that can be transmitted to your cat. Similarly, internal parasites are more common now as well.

These statistics are particularly worrisome because these are diseases that are preventable with proper health care. Unfortunately, the number of cats visiting their veterinarian for an examination has decreased in recent years. Cats as a species see their veterinarians much less often than their canine counterparts.

Many cat owners mistakenly believe that routine veterinary visits are not necessary for their cat and only bring their cat to their veterinarian when symptoms of illness occur. One of the problems with that strategy is the fact that cats are masters of disguise when it comes to illness. Symptoms, depending on the disease, can be so subtle that even the most observant cat owner may not immediately notice. By the time the symptoms become obvious, it may be much more expensive to treat the cat. Worse, it may even be too late to save the cat in severe instances.

What can you do to protect your cat?

  • Schedule regular veterinary checkups for your cat. Your cat should have a thorough examination at least once to twice a year. Cats with chronic illnesses may require more frequent examinations.
  • Feed your cat a quality diet and keep your cat lean. Avoid overfeeding so that your cat does not become overweight.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about what you can do to care for your cat’s teeth. Even if your cat will not allow brushing, there are options that can help.
  • Use a safe effective flea and tick product to keep these pests away from your cat.
  • Have your cat’s fecal sample checked periodically and take appropriate measures to control intestinal parasites.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about whether your cat needs heartworm prevention as well.

Being proactive with your cat’s health by practicing preventive health care will not only ensure your cat a longer, happier life but also will save you money in the long term.

Dr. Lorie Huston

Sources:

Banfield State of Pet Health Report, 2012 National Pet Obesity Survey

Image: hoogmoet / via Flickr

Comments  3

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  • Kitties
    05/28/2013 06:02pm

    It still kind of confuses me why cats get veterinary checkups less often than dogs. After all, just like dogs, they can't tell you if they're not feeling 100%.

    Do humans value them less for some reason? Or is it because they can be a challenge with transport? Or is it because they had a cat when they were growing up that (supposedly) lived to be 20 years old and never went to the vet?

    I err on the side of caution and probably take mine too often, but I'd rather have something found early when hopefully it can be treated.

  • Cats & Vet Care
    05/31/2013 08:36am

    I have been adopting stray cats for years, I have 7 right now and I care for several strays and ferals. Our town refuses to allow a TNR program. I do it myself at my own cost. It is absolutely unaffordable to take my cats to the vet more than once a year. They get their proper vaccinations (they do go for boosters when necessary), they are all spayed/neutered, and treated for fleas. I am 60 years old and have always had cats. My cats have all lived to ripe old ages without all this extra treatment that vets have been pushing for the last few years. The vet costs have gone sky-high making it very difficult for people to keep their pets healthy. I took 3 cats for boosters only a few weeks ago and it cost me $220.00. How can anyone continue to rescue at those prices? I think vets are getting like human doctors and just want to get rich. And I have a brother that's a vet.

  • Getting Rich
    06/04/2013 11:22am

    Nancy i think you are wright when you say that the money comes first,its so sad that its come down to this,i don't think that Vets are as bad as human dr,s but it is very close,there is no bed side manor at all,you would think that life know matter what kind it is would have more value,these drs have forgotten about the oath that they once took,or maybe it just simply does not exist any more,it seem's that way.Dr's should be ashamed of them self's,for treating life in this horrible way!

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