cat vet stethoscope veterinary exam

August 22 through August 28, 2011 is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Week. Created by the makers of Feline Pine in 2009, National Take Your Cat to the Vet Week is sponsored by this year. The purpose of this campaign is to remind cat parents to take their cats to the vet for regular physical exams.

Why is there a need for this campaign? 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 a year, compared with 1.1 times a year for cats, and significantly more dogs (58%) than cats (28%) were seen by a veterinarian one or more times a 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 annual wellness exams for cats of all ages, with more frequent exams for seniors, geriatrics and cats with known medical conditions. I recommend bi-annual exams for cats age 7 and older. Cats are masters at hiding discomfort, and annual or bi-annual exams are the best way to detect problems early. Once a cat shows symptoms, treatment may be much more extensive, not as effective, and will also cost more.

One barrier to regular vet visits for many cat parents is the fact that vet visits can be very stressful for cats. During National Take Your Cat to the Vet, will provide tips for making vet visits easier for cats and for getting the most out of your visit. Be sure to like Petfinder’s Facebook page so you don’t miss any of their tips.

 Vet Confidential pet health

We’re holding a contest during National Take Your Cat to the Vet week to help spread the word about this important campaign. Share a story of your cat’s vet visit in a comment. Allegra, Ruby and I will judge the entries, and the best story will win a copy of Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health by Louise Murray, DVM. Contest ends August 29. For an additional chance to win, share this contest on Facebook or Twitter, and post the link in a separate comment.

Related reading:

Is your vet cat-friendly?

How to make your cat’s trip to the vet less stressful

Can classical music lead to better veterinary care for you cat?

Your cat may not be as old as you think

25 Comments on Take Your Cat to the Vet Week Contest: Share your stories

  1. What great stories! We lost our boy Ricky shy of his 12th birthday due to a combination of bowel disease and renal failure. There was a decent chance of some lymphoma present, but the biopsy would have been too much for him in those last few weeks.

    We will honor the great companionship he offered by taking our younger cats (two 6-year-old litter mates and a 4-month recent rescue) by being more diligent and aware of the need for regular vet checkups. We assume that because Ricky seemed “fine” that we didn’t need to take him in. Unfortunately by the time his vomiting became frequent enough to not be dismissed as hair balls, it was pretty late.

    We miss his loving presence every day.

    • I’m so sorry about Ricky – I don’t think we ever stop missing them. What better way to honor his memory than to do everything you can to keep your younger cats healthy throughout their lives.

  2. Our 12 year old, Gigi, was about 3 months overdue for her annual check-up. My husband felt a little lump on her thigh, so we made an appointment right away and saw the vet Sat Aug 20. She went in for surgery last Friday and we’re awaiting the results of the lump/mass/tumour. It’s a 50/50 chance it’s benign, but the vet is very optimistic that she removed all of it. And if we hadn’t taken her in or left it, even if it was benign, it would have likely eventually turned cancerous.

    She also had a cavity and a broken tooth (her mom doesn’t take good care of her teeth), so had a tooth and root removed.

    It is VERY important to take your cat for regular check-ups to catch things early!! It should be “Take Your Cat to the Vet Week” every week 🙂 Gigi is very thankful she went to the doctor, even though she was not thrilled about it at the time. 🙂

  3. “While you are here, would you mind taking my Ragdoll? I rescued her a few years ago from a neighbor who was going to ‘put her down’.” I was out on a call to pick up 2 stray cats from an 81-year-old widow, when her daughter, who lived in the trailer behind her, sprung this on me.

    She went to her trailer and came back with a small, thin cat with long matted fur, eyes gummed almost shut, and a very swollen mouth. “She’s sick, isn’t she?” I asked.
    “Oh, no, she just has a double set of eyelashes and a double set of teeth. I haven’t been able to afford to get her the surgery she needs.

    So began the saga of Sasha. When I first brought her into the vet’s, he asked me, “Pat, are you sure you want to save this cat? She’s awfully sick, and I’m not sure how much we’ll be able to help her.” Before I made that decision, I made sure she tested negative for feline leukemia and Kitty-AIDS, then said, “Let’s see what we can do”.

    Instead of a ‘double set of eyelashes’, Sasha had ‘entropion’, a condition where the eyelids rolled in, causing the eyelashes to scrape against the surface of the eye every time she closed her lids, causing severe pain and inflammation. A stitch to each eyelid, and some antibiotic ointment, soon cleared up that problem.

    There was more than just a “double set of teeth”. The vet told me, “She had teeth everywhere!” He removed the infected ones, but the antibiotic made her awfully sick. She refused to eat or drink, and had to have IV fluids a week after surgery.

    Sasha eventually regained health and weight, was successfully spayed, and was transported to a new adoptive home by Pilots-N-Paws (an organization of small plane pilots who volunteer to transport rescues to adoptive homes).

    She remains a “special needs” cat, and her new owner has e-mailed me that she feels “like the worst cat owner ever” for having to force the cat to accept daily medications, baths, and teeth brushing. “No,” I e-mailed her back. “Not counting those who abuse cats, the worst pet owners are those who think feeding and housing a cat is enough, and refuse to seek veterinary treatment, letting the cat suffer for years with medical neglect.” How else can you explain how a six-year-old Ragdoll, known to be one of the largest domesticated cat breeds, only grew to 4 1/2 pounds?

  4. Cats are amazing creatures. I have a cat named Pupsy which a found as a newborn kitten in the dustbin. Of course i couldnt let go, and now Pupsy is 3 years old. She is the master of the house and i am just the girl that satisfy her needs. Although she is newtered she is very wild and alive, always jumping and biting, generaly shes all over the house and she insisted of going out of the house for a stroll as well. I cant do otherwise because she jumps of the balcony and i dont want her to get hurt byjumbing. Every time she sees the carrier she knows that shes going to doctor so shes hiding under the bed which is a big one so i cannot reach her, or she is jumping to the nearby balcony. So i decided next time to hide the carrier so i can grab her to caress her and kiss her and sweet talking to her, and without seeing me to put her in the box. That work for a couple of times but later she became a mind reader. She just knows what i am thinking and she takes off. Amazing .. Isnt it?
    As if she has a sixth sense (which she has) she knows everything before even i get to think about. Im amazed about that so i thougt i would share it with you.
    The funny thing is that while being examined by the doctor shes completely the oposite. She is speechless not moving, doing nothing but standing still and everybody thinks what a quite kitty is this………..

  5. One of my Devons, a former stray, went blind about a year after she came here as a foster cat two years ago. She is now a permanent resident and goes to the vet every two or three months to get her blood pressure checked and address any other concerns, and twice a year to see the ophthalmologist. She’s a dear old girl and I can’t understand why someone just tossed her out. She was found in a field and was four paw declawed and emaciated when found by a mail carrier. We have figured out a way to address the “white coat syndrome” when getting her blood pressure checked. She is a good traveler on short trips so being in the carrier and car is not too traumatic for her. She travels with her favorite blanket which I wrap her up in once we get to the exam room and are waiting for the vet. She purrs and licks me while we wait. When he comes in she goes on the table with her blanket and while he wraps the cuff around her tail and takes her blood pressure I lean down close to her face, scratch her ears and head, and whisper to her what a beautiful girl she is. She purrs and talks back to me and is very calm and never needs to be restrained. Her blood pressure is actually lower when we use this technique than when I just stand up and hold her without talking. We’ve tried both ways. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. My Devons have always liked their carriers, in fact they will go into them if I leave the doors open, and they don’t freak out at the vet’s.

    • I love the system you and your vet came up with to make the visit less stressful for your cat. This is especially important when it comes to getting an accurate blood pressure measurement.

  6. Peaches…..ah, Peaches…..The first and last time I took her to the vet was to get her initial shots and be spayed. I had to fight tooth and nail to get her into the carrier, then I went out to start the car (Michigan fall, it was about 20 degrees out), went back to get her and she had destroyed the carrier(I was in pieces all over the living room like it had blown up or something) and was hiding somewhere. I put the carrier back together, fought her back into it, put it in the car and listened to her yowl pitifully all the way there. WHen we got there, she totally shut down and went into some kind of an almost comatose state….her fur started falling out in handfulls and she was shaking like a leaf……the vet sedated her and gave her her shots, admitted her for the spay the next morning, but when I came to get her the next day he told me that as long as she was going to be a strictly indoor cat (which she always has been) I should skip the yearly vaccinations and NEVER take her to a vet again unless there was something wrong with her, because the stress of leaving the house was probably more dangerous to her health. Every time I’ve had to move she’s flipped out like that…..even this last time when I only moved a few doors down and she was only in the carrier for about 10 minutes, she was losing it the whole time. Can cats be claustrophobic, I wonder? Maybe that’s the problem

    • Monkey will just walk into the carrier and chill out….she acts like it’s a vacation, and the vet LOVES her! lol

    • Poor Peaches – she sounds like a hardcore case, that’s for sure. However, while I think it’s good advice to skip annual vaccinations (because no cat should be getting those!), it’s bad advice to skip regular exams. There are always options, even for cats like Peaches. Even if your vet doesn’t make housecalls on a regular basis, perhaps he would consider making an exception for Peaches.

  7. My Mickey Jagger, who just left us on July 5 at the age of 19, was a vet’s nightmare. He was a stray who walked into my house one day, a tom cat with the broken tooth and never left. I had him fixed, his tooth pulled, but nothing could be done for his ear – it was his trademark. He was best friends with my Cocker Spaniel, Sir Waldo, who he would allow to lick his head until it was sopping wet. Mickey never liked the vet, but originally he tolerated the visits. I think when he had to be boarded there for three days when the house was tented for termites, he learned to hate it. One day (before I knew about his change of heart opinion of the vet), he and Waldo had to stay a day at the vet’s office – Mickey for a UTI and Waldo for observation for a possible leg injury. I came in the afternoon to pick them up and was waiting at the reception desk to pay. One of the vet techs brought Waldo to me and said she would be right back with Mickey. As I stood there paying, I heard a loud yowling, peppered with hisses and growls coming from the back. I didn’t think anything of it, but I turned around to the person standing behind me and said “Wow, that’s one mad cat.” A few minutes later that same vet tech came to the front, this time though with mussed hair and scratch on her arm and said to me very calmly, “it’ll be just a few more minutes.” Again, I didn’t think anything of it. Several minutes, growls, hisses, murmurs from others in the waiting room and one loud “dammit” later, the vet tech came to me and maybe I could help get Mickey from the cage. At this point, my mind started thinking “uh oh.” The receptionist held on to Sir Waldo and I went to the back. There was Mickey mad as hell, spitting and growling at anyone who reached into the cage (and to be fair to him, he HAD had a catheter in all day and undoubtedly wasn’t feeling well). I figured it was because he was mad at them, but I would have no problems getting him. I reached for him and he hissed at me and took a swipe at my hand. At this point, the vet came in and asked what was going on. We told and he, obviously disgusted with us, (I loved this man, he was the kindest, gentlest vet who was easily manipulated by people who said they couldn’t afford care. Half his practice must have been free services. The day he retired was a sad day) said he would get Mickey. Well, you can guess what happened. Mickey was howling, hissing, spitting and yowling all at the same time it seemed. You could hear it all the way out in the waiting room. The vet finally put on hawking gloves, gave me a pair and we wrangled (that’s the only word that fits here) Mickey J. We were all sweating and red-faced, but Mickey was in the carrier at last. Carrier in hand, I walked back out to the waiting room and as I came into the room, EVERYONE – human, dog, cats in carriers – all backed away from us. The receptionist told me I could pay the bill later, I got Waldo and we left. On the way home, I was worried about Mickey’s anger. At that time we had three dogs and ten cats and I was afraid that Mickey would displace his anger and attack one of them. But he was so obviously miserable in the carrier, I had to let him out. When we got home, I put the carrier on the floor and carefully opened the door ready to tackle him if necessary (My Mickey J at his prime was 16 lbs of muscle). He slowly sauntered out of the carrier, looked around, and sat down and washed a paw. I just stood there staring at him. When he was done grooming himself, he looked up at me as if to say “What?” Then he did his panther walk to a spot in the sun, laid down and took a nap. Over the years, he developed CRF and hyper-thyroid, so he made many trips to the vet, including some overnight stays. His chart had “Danger” stamped all over it, but several of the vet techs and the new vet loved. They loved his spunk, his fierceness and his character. They would ask to treat him. All of them felt he lived so long because he was a fighter. And before he died in my arms on July 5, 2011 they came into the room at the vets where we were and said their good-byes. A few days after his death they sent me a card that they had all signed and told me how much they cared for him and how lucky he was to have me. They were wrong. I was me who was lucky to have him.

    RIP Mickey Jagger Profant

    • What a great story, Michelle. Mickey Jagger sounds like he was an amazing cat, and I’m so sorry for your loss. I agree – we’re the lucky ones when we’re picked by these special cats.

  8. As you know, we are lucky to have a state-of-the-art mobile clinic that comes to our home. We agree about twice yearly vet visits for cats over age seven. One story I heard recently was about an old man who brought his very ill 21-year old cat to a shelter. He’d had her since being a kitten and couldn’t afford to bring her to the vet. Thankfully, the shelter euthanized for poor creature. The volunteer felt anger towards the man for not bringing his cat to the vet but life is never black and white.

    • You’re right, Layla, life is never black and white. I’d say 21 years is a good long life for a cat, and the man brought the cat to the shelter for euthanasia rather than letting her suffer. There’s something to be said for that.

  9. And I’ll be writing about my house-call veterinarian and our recent whole-house annual as well, but don’t enter me either. Can’t wait to hear the stories!

  10. We took one of our cats to a new vet a couple of years ago. Our cat was 16 at that time. The vet came in and did a physical on him. After the exam, the vet said, “He looks really good for a six year old cat.” I reminded her that was SIXTEEN. Her eyes got big and she said, “He looks GREAT for a sixteen year old cat!!!”

    He’s over 18 now and still thinks he’s a kitten…..

  11. Just posted about National Take Your Cat to the Vet Week. Looks like a great ‘event’ to encourage cat owners to take their cats to the vet.

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