Why people don’t take their cats to the vet

Steve Dale is the host of the nationally syndicated radio shows Steve Dale’s Pet World and The Pet Minute with Steve Dale. His column, My Pet World, is carried in more than 100
newspapers nationwide and his new column The CATalyst (in which this post originally appeared) just debuted. Steve also serves on the board of directors for
the American Humane Association.

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Meet tabby boy Kai at Eugene, OR’s
Shelter Animal Resource Alliance.

Petfinder has proclaimed Aug. 22-28 Take Your Cat to the Vet Week, and I’m hugely supportive.

Dogs are more than twice as likely to visit the veterinarian than cats. Why is that? What the heck is going on?

Here are some answers:

  • Veterinary visits are on the decline overallfor dogs and even more so for cats. Sadly, as a result, our pets have begun to pay the price with an increase in preventable illnesses. According to the recently released Banfield Pet Hospital 2011 Report, since 2006 there’s been a 10% rise in dental disease in cats; although still uncommon, there’s a 27% increase in whipworm and a 12% hike in roundworm in cats (both worms can be transmitted to people); diabetes in cats went up 16%.

  • Most of all, for cats, it’s all about transport to the veterinary clinic. Take the carrier out, and the cat high-tails it to another room, perhaps another county. Most pet parents burn off more calories attempting to stuff a cat in the carrier than they do at their health club. Over time, they no longer want to fight their cat, so the cat doesn’t see the vet. [Check out these tips for getting cats to tolerate carriers and car travel.]
  • More and more cats are being kept indoors. That’s generally a good thing and in the best interest of your cat’s overall health. Now that more cats are indoors, however, people somehow feel their cats can’t get sick. Of course, when you think about it, that notion simply makes no sense: renal failure, diabetes, liver disease, arthritis and hyperthyroidism are just a few possibilities. It may be difficult or impossible to diagnose many problems without a veterinary exam. All cats, regardless of their lifestyles, require preventive care.
  • Cats are subtle about telling their people they don’t feel well. It’s not unusual for cats to feel awful for weeks or months before their owners detect something.Early detection can make some illnesses easier and less expensive to treat, may mean less suffering, and might even be life-saving (as with certain cancers detected early).

What can cat owners do? Familiarize cats early and regularly with cat carriers, take cats to the vet for routine care and learn to recognize subtle signs of cat illness.

Come back tomorrow for the subtle signs of a sick cat.


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Previous Take Your Cat to the Vet Week post:

Why Take Your Cat to the Vet Week matters to me

More about taking your cat to the vet:

Take Your Cat to the Vet Week 2011

Get Your Cat to Like the Vet

Get Your Cat to Like His Carrier

Get Your Cat to Like the Car

Keep Your Cat Calm During a Vet Exam

Questions to Ask Your Cat’s Vet

Banfield’s Tips for Low-Stress Vet Visits for Cats

Get the Most Out of Your Cat’s Vet Appointment

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