wellness exam

Finding a cat-friendly vet

cat vet stethoscope veterinary exam

Cats are notoriously underserved when it comes to veterinary care. The  American Association of Feline Practitioners shares the following statistics:

  • In the United States, there are 86 Million Owned Cats and 78 Million Owned Dogs.
  • Almost twice as many cats than dogs never visit the veterinarian.
  • Of the cats that do visit the veterinarian, they average 26% fewer visits than dogs.
  • 41% of cat owners visit the veterinarian only for vaccinations.
  • 39% of cat owners say they would only take their cat to the veterinarian if the cat was sick.
  • 60% of cat owners report that their cat hates going to the veterinarian.
  • 38% of cat owners report that they get stressed just thinking about bringing their cat to the practice.

These numbers are alarming, because  they support the misconception that cats don’t need the same level of care as dogs.Continue Reading

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?

Is Pet Insurance Right for You and Your Cat?

cat with vet

One of the most important aspects of being a responsible cat guardian is 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 well cat care. Illnesses and accidents can quickly increase those 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. There are several companies offering a variety of plans, and deciding whether pet insurance is right for you, and choosing the right plan, can be overwhelming.

How do you determine whether pet insurance right for you?

Could you afford an unexpected $1000 or $2000, should your pet become ill? If your answer is no, pet insurance may be a viable option. You may not like paying a monthly premium, but, just like human health insurance, you may be glad you paid the premium if you ever need to use the coverage for your pet.

Pet insurance is all about risk management. Some clients may pay more in premiums than they receive in reimbursements (and they would be the lucky ones with healthy pets), but they’ll know that, should something catastrophic happen to their pet, they’ll be covered. Pet insurance companies are in business to make a profit, so they need to generate more money in premiums than what they pay out to pet owners.

Some pet guardians may prefer to put aside a certain amount of money each month into a savings account dedicated to pet care expenses instead of paying monthly insurance premiums. The advantage of doing so is, of course, that, if your cat needs little beyond annual well visits, the money belongs to you, not the insurance company. The risk is that you may end up with unexpected and expensive vet bills, should your cat need additional care. Saving for pet care expenses may also require more financial discipline than paying a monthly premium bill.

If pet insurance seems like a viable option for you, do your homework. Research the different plans carefully. Read the fine print. Premiums and coverage vary widely from plan to plan.

The following questions can help you choose a pet insurance provider:

  1. Is the company licensed in your state?
  2. Does the company have a good reputation? How long have they been around?
  3. Is the policy information easy to understand?
  4. Does the company offer customer service during business hours?
  5. Can you see any veterinarian you want?
  6. How much have premiums increased over the last few years?
  7. Will premiums increase as your pet gets older?
  8. What is covered and what is excluded from coverage?
  9. What is the company’s policy on pre-existing conditions?
  10. Does the company cover benefits for wellness visits and preventive care?
  11. Does the company cover holistic care?
  12. Is there a waiting period before coverage becomes active?
  13. Is there a maximum age for enrolling your cat?
  14. Are there reimbursement limits per case, per year, per lifetime?
  15. Is a physical exam required prior to enrollment?

There is no one size fits all answer to the question of whether pet insurance is right for you and your cat. It is a personal decision that needs to take your financial situation and your risk tolerance into account.

The Senior Cat Wellness Visit

catexamtable

Regular veterinary exams are important at any age, but they become even more important as your cat ages.  Typically, veterinarians recommend annual exams for healthy pets up to age 6 or 7.  There is some controversy in the profession regarding the frequency of exams in younger cats, but most experts agree that even healthy senior cats should be examined at 6-month intervals.  This is important because:

  • Many disease conditions begin to develop in cats in middle age.
  • Health changes in cats can occur very quickly, and cats age faster than humans.
  • Cats are masters at masking disesase and by the time symptoms appear, they can present as acutely ill.
  • Cat parents may not always recognize the existence or importance of sublte changes, especially in multi-cat households.
  • Early detection of disease results in easier management and better quality of life.

A typical senior wellness visit will include the following:

  • Obtaining information from the cat’s person  regarding any behavior changes, changes in activity or litter box habits, changes in eating or drinking, current diet and supplements, and more.
  • A thorough physical exam that includes checking weight, skin and haircoat quality, oral cavity, ears, eyes, thyroid gland palpitation, listening to the heart, abdominal palpitation, checking of joints and muscle tone.
  • Bloodwork to check a complete bloodcount, chemistry screen and thyroid profile.  For more information about why bloodwork is so important, read “Bloodwoork For Your Pet:  What It Means and Why Your Pet Needs It.” 
  • Urinalysis to assess kidney function and bladder health.