August 16 through 22 is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Week. This event was created by the makers of Feline Pine, a natural cat litter, to raise awareness, together with veterinarians nationwide, that cats need annual veterinary examinations just as much as dogs do. According to statistics, cats are substantially underserved when it comes to veterinary care. Even though cat owners consider their cats just as much members of the family as dog owners do, a 2006 study showed that dogs were taken to veterinarians more than twice as often as cats, averaging 2.3 times/year, compared with 1.1 times/year for cats, and significantly more dogs (58%) than cats (28%) were seen by a veterinarian one or more times/year. Cat owners often express a belief that cats “do not need medical care.” According to Dr. Michele Gaspar, DVM, DABVP (Feline), Feline Pine’s in house veterinarian, “there is a misconception that cats are independent and they don’t need the level of care that dogs do. Cats also don’t show disease well. We can have cats who look normal but they are covering up a serious illness.”
The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends a minimum of annual wellness examinations for all cats in its Feline Life Stage Guidelines. According to the guidelines, “semi-annual wellness exams are often recommended for all feline life stages by veterinarians and veterinary organizations. Their reasoning includes the fact that changes in health status may occur in a short period of time; that ill cats often show no signs of disease; and that earlier detection of ill health, body weight changes, dental disease, and so on, allows for earlier intervention. In addition, semi-annual exams allow for more frequent communication with the owner regarding behavioral and attitudinal changes, and education about preventive health care.”
Veterinary care is not inexpensive, but is is a fact of life of being a responsible pet parent. By taking your cat for regular check ups, you may avoid not only higher veterinary bills in the long run, but more importantly, you will ensure that your cat will live a long, healthy life.