Have we seen your cat lately?

You’ve repeatedly seen me report here that cats are underserved when it comes to regular veterinary care. Recent statistics show that there are 82 million pet cats in the U.S., compared with 72 million dogs, making cats the most popular pet. Yet studies show the number of feline veterinary visits is declining steadily each year. For example, a recent industry survey revealed that compared with dogs, almost three times as many cats hadn’t received veterinary care in the past year. 

The disparity may be related to common myths about cat health, such as:

   • Cats are naturally healthier and more problem-free than dogs
   • Feline health problems come from outside and don’t affect indoor cats
   • Cats will display visible signs of illness like dogs do 

The truth is, cats need regular veterinary care, including annual, or, depending on their age, bi-annual, exams, just like dogs do. And because cats are masters at hiding signs of illness, regular exams are especially important for early diagnosis of health problems.

A new campaign, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., with support from the American Animal Hospital Association, aims to address this discrepancy. Titled “Have we seen your cat lately?“, the campaign offers participating veterinary clinics educational materials and checklists to help veterinarians and staff members communicate better with clients about feline wellness.

I’m all for any campaigns and efforts that result in getting cats better veterinary care. For more resources on why regular vet visits are so important for cats, please visit Healthy Cats for Life.

Is your cat due for her regular check up? Why not take a few minutes and make that appointment right now?

You may also enjoy reading:

Feline-friendly handling guidelines to make vet visits easier for cats

Is your vet cat-friendly?

6 Comments on New campaign hopes to increase feline veterinary visits

  1. Good article! Very timely post and I can say that yes, the economy and most people’s fragile financial situation (ie: paycheck to paycheck) has affected medical care decisions and also the clients decisions at the feline veterinary practice I work at.

    A year ago, one of my 5 cats spend 3 days in an emergency hospital due to a urinary blockage and I pulled the money to pay his bill out of my late husbands life insurance money (aka ‘my savings acct’) and I just cut back on my ‘frivolous’ spending to make up for it.

    I do think many of our clients opt for ‘empirical’ treatments more now that before, or maybe say they will do labwork every other year now, and we care for many multi-organ issue kitties and their owners are still going the extra mile for them.

    Just the other day, a new client with a 4 year old cat who had not seen a vet since it was seen as a kitten when they adopted it, said something similar to ‘It’s been healthy but I can’t listen to it coughing all the time’…presented with severe asthma.

    In my experience, people who are proactive about their own healthcare are the same way with their cats care, too.

  2. While this doesn’t address the cost issue, there are places for people to get assistance with vet care, though it’s usually focused on emergency care: http://talesoftails.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/help-with-paying-vet-bills/

    Even when the economy was good, cats had fewer vet visits. I think the public perception is that they truly need less care. An acquaintance, supposedly knowledgeable about pets, recently told me she was sad when she lost her cat though they never knew what it was because they didn’t take him to the vet except to be euthanized; she always thought there was nothing you could do for cats and he’d always been healthy. She takes her dog to the vet all the time. This is not uncommon and truly needs to change.

    • That’s really incredible that someone would take their dogs for regular veterinary care but just assume that there’s nothing you can do for cats, Bernadette.

  3. Sadly, one of the main reasons is financial. Since the economic downturn thousands have pets have lost their homes, never mind being able to have vet check-ups. Is there anything in this program that addresses that issue? It’s so true; many people don’t bring a cat in unless it’s sick and cat’s are masters of hiding symptoms.

    • I don’t believe the program addresses the economic issue as a reason for cats receiving less veterinary care than dogs. Sadly, it is, of course, a reality right now that affects all pets, not just cats. I just read a fantastic post by Dr. Nancy Kay about this topic, and she addresses the issue in her usual thoughtful manner: http://speakingforspot.com/blog/?p=2598

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