veterinary exam

Advantages of Using a Housecall Veterinarian for Your Cat

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According to statistics, cats are substantially underserved when it comes to veterinary care.  Even though pet cats outnumber dogs in the U.S. by 15 million, CATalyst Council and the American Humane Association estimate that cats go to the vet only half as often as dogs. Cat owners often express a belief that cats “do not need medical care.” According to Dr. Michele Gaspar, DVM, DABVP (Feline), “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.”

One of the barriers to regular physical exams for many cats is that a trip to the veterinary clinic can be stressful and even traumaticContinue Reading

Should You Get Pet Insurance For Your Cat?

cat_with_vet

Responsible cat guardianship includes ensuring regular health care for your cat throughout his life. All cats should have annual wellness exams, and older cats should see the veterinarian twice a year. Costs for routine exams vary; depending on what part of the country you’re in, they will range anywhere from $45 to $150 (exam only). And that’s only for well cat care. Illnesses and accidents can quickly increase these costs. The average cost for a visit to an emergency vet can easily run between $1000 and $2000, depending on the severity of the problem.

Additionally, advances in veterinary medicine make it possible to treat medical conditions in pets that would have been a death sentence a decade ago. From chemotherapy to kidney transplants, pets can now receive almost the same level of medical care as humans. Of course, all of these treatments come with a price tag.

As a result, pet insurance has become increasingly popular over the past decade. Continue Reading

Ruby’s Reflections: Ruby Gets a Visit from the Vet

kitten cute cat tree

Boy, do I have a story to tell today! I know Mom loves me, and everything she does is for my own good (or so she tells me), but sometimes, you have to wonder about these humans.

The other day, I was snoozing on Mom’s lap, all nice and cozy, just loving my life and being close to Mom, when the doorbell rang. Allegra and I ran to the top of the stairs to see who was coming to see us. I always let Allegra go first. She’s the official greeter, and with very few exceptions, I’m a little shy around new people. Mom seemed happy to see the woman who came in, and Allegra ran down the stairs to greet her.

I wasn’t so sure. I had vague memories of that woman. She’d been at our house before, I just couldn’t remember when. Mom invited her to come into the living room, and she and Mom sat down and started talking. Then it hit me: of course! The last time she was here, I wasn’t feeling so good. Continue Reading

Allegra’s World: A Visit From the Vet

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I had quite an exciting morning on Monday. All morning long, Mom told me that I would have a very special visitor. I couldn’t wait: I love visitors! When the doorbell finally rang, I sat at the top of the stairs, telling Mom to hurry and open the door. I would do it myself, but I know better. Mom says I’m not allowed to run down the stairs toward the door, or she won’t open it.

Anyway, this nice man came in, and I immediately went to say hello. He held out his hand and let me sniff it, and then he petted me. I like good manners in a visitor. I showed him the way to our living room – I’m a good hostess! Then the door bell rang again. Another visitor? What a great day! The young woman who came in was really nice, too. I liked her right away.

The man had a bag and a strange looking plastic tray with him, and as soon as he put them on the dining room table, I went over to check them out. The bag smelled very interesting.Continue Reading

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

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 Petfinder.com 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, Petfinder.com 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

New campaign hopes to increase feline veterinary visits

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?

Adventures in Veterinary Medicine – Finding a New Vet

For the first time in over fifteen years, I find myself in a position of having to find a new vet for Allegra and any future feline family members, and I’m finding that it’s not an easy thing to do.  During the years I worked in veterinary hospitals, I always had an up close and personal knowledge of the vets who worked on Feebee, Amber and Buckley, from their medical skills and proficiency to their dedication and “bedside manner.”  I thought I’d never find better vets than the husband and wife team who owned the practice I managed for eight years.  Janet and Jack were the kinds of veterinarians you read about in James Herriot-style books. They were both completely dedicated to their profession. In addition to practicing exceptional, cutting edge medicine, they had elevated the art of compassionate care for their furry patients and their humans to levels that are rare even in a profession that is based on caring for animals.  There were many nights when, instead of leaving a sick pet at the practice overnight, they’d take him home and watch over him in their bedroom or bathroom.  Both of them loved their work, and they were always learning and growing in their fields.  They were a tough act to follow. 

When I left their practice to start my own business, I began looking for a new vet.  The clinic I had worked at was a forty-five minute drive from home, and neither Amber nor Buckley ever did well on the long drive.  I never thought I’d find someone as good as Janet and Jack.  And then I met Fern (some of you already know Fern from my book, from some of the articles she’s written for The Conscious Cat, and from our first Ask the Vet teleseminar).  Fern and I hit it off immediately.  Not only were her practice philosophies in synch with what I was looking for, she is the consummate cat vet, and one of the most brilliant people I ever met.  And even better, we became very good friends in a very short time.  Unfortunately, she recently had to make the difficult decision to retire, at least for the foreseeable future, from her beloved profession due to a family health problem.  While I am fortunate that she will always be available to me for advice or a second opinion, I still need to find a new vet, since she’s not currently affiliated with a hospital and can’t do much beyond basic physical exams without that affiliation.  As you might expect, with my background, my standards of what I expect in a vet are very high. 

I’ve previously written about how to tell whether your vet is cat-friendly, and how to choose the right vet for your pet.  One of the things I always stress when I talk to people about this subject is that I think it’s a good idea to make an appointment without your pet when evaluating a veterinary clinic.  By going to see potential vets without your cat, you will be more relaxed.  Ask for a tour of the hospital.  If you want to speak with a veterinarian, offer to pay for an office visit.  Most vets won’t charge you for this introductory visit, but it sets the right tone for a future relationship of mutual respect.  Come prepared with a list of questions.  Some of the questions I’ll be asking on my search are:

  • How many veterinarians are at the practice?
  • Will I always see the same vet?
  • Are there vets at the practice that specialize in working with cats, or that have a preference for working with cats?
  • Are they open to holistic modalities, even if they don’t practice them?
  • Are appointments required?
  • How are emergencies handled?
  • What is their policy for visiting hospitalized pets?
  • Are diagnostic services such as x-rays, blood work, ultrasound, EKG, endoscopy done in-house, or will they be referred to a specialist?
  • Do the veterinarians use VIN (the Veterinary Information Network)?  This is generally an indicator that they’re interested in pursuing continuing education and that they are staying on top of the latest developments in their profession.

I’ve narrowed my own search down to two hospitals – one of them a feline-only practice, which is what I would prefer, but it is further from home than I would like (about a half hour’s drive), the other a small animal practice with a terrific reputation much closer to home.  I’ll let you know which one I pick when it’s time for Allegra’s first check up.

Picture shows Allegra on the day I first met her, on an exam table at the veterinary clinic I adopted her from.

Amber’s Mewsings: Amber Gets a Check Up

Amber

You may remember that I’ve managed to keep the dreaded check up at bay for quite some time, but – even a powerful creator cat like me can only do so much when she has a caring mom who wants to be sure I’m healthy and stay healthy.  So Wednesday, Fern, our vet, came to the house, and this time, I knew it wasn’t just for a visit with Mom.  I knew immediately what was up when Fern didn’t even come upstairs, but headed straight for Mom’s Reiki room.  That’s where they do my check ups.  Go figure – I guess Mom thinks the energy there is good so it’ll make it less stressful for me.  Yeah, nice try.  So Fern heads downstairs, and Mom grabs me and carries me downstairs – never a good sign.  I made my displeasure known, but did she let me go?  Of course not.  She kept telling me “it’s okay, sweetie.”  Sure it is – do YOU think it’s okay when someone comes at you uninvited and pokes and prods you, and then sticks sharp needles into you and steals your blood???

Anyway.  Mom puts me on the Reiki table, and Fern pretends she’s petting me.  I know petting from what she was doing!  She squeezed and poked at all my organs.  Then she took this weird metal disk and put it against my heart.  The disk had rubber tubes attached that went into Fern’s ears.  Humans are so weird.  And then she had the audacity to look into my mouth!  Apparently she didn’t like what she saw there, because she said I have to have what they call a dental – an innocent little word for me being put in my carrier, having to ride in Mom’s car to the cat hospital, and being poked, prodded and stuck with needles while I’m there.  Granted, then I get to take a nice long nap, but when I wake up, my mouth feels icky and I feel out of sorts and groggy and just really weird.  It always takes the rest of the day for me to feel normal again.  But I know Mom stays with me through the whole thing and she holds me while I wake up, and she takes me home as soon as she can.  Mom has explained to me before how important it is that we keep my teeth and gums healthy, and I understand it – but I don’t have to like it!

But back to the check up – even after checking out my teeth, Fern still wasn’t done, sigh.  I knew the worst part was yet to come.  Mom kept hugging me and telling me it was okay.  I growled and grumbled – I know Mom meant well, but I’m not an idiot!  So then Mom put me into this seriously uncomfortable position and held on to my front leg, hard, and Fern came at me with a needle.  I tried to be good, but it really hurt, and I let loose with a loud scream.  I didn’t want to, because I know it upsets Mom when I cry, but yowza!  After what seemed like an eternity, while I was watching my precious blood trickle into two small tubes, Fern said the magic words.  “We’re done!”.  Mom held on to me for a little bit longer – I know it was to make sure that my leg wouldn’t continue to bleed where they stuck the needle in me, but I was so ready to just get out of that room and away from them!  I know why it’s important that they get my blood, Mom wrote an article about it a while back, but I sure wish it didn’t hurt so much.  And of course the results were all perfect, just like I am.  I could have told them that they would be without having to endure all that poking and prodding and being stuck with needles.  Humans!

In Mom’s defense, once Fern left, I got lots of treats, and I know she felt really bad that she had to put me through this.  And I do understand that it’s important to make sure that I’m healthy.

Anyway – that’s all I have to say for now.  That dental thing is supposed to happen in two weeks.   You can be sure I’ll have a thing or two to say about that!