#Cat2VetDay Encourages Cat Owners to Make Sure Their Cats Get Veterinary Care Too
It’s easy to argue that cats rule the internet and social media; the prevalence of cat memes and feline Instagram stars attest to that. But when it comes to veterinary visits, dogs win, paws down. According to a study by Bayer Animal Health, half of all American pet cats do not see a veterinarian regularly. And Banfield reports that in their more than 1000 veterinary hospitals, only one cat is seen by a veterinarian for every five dogs, despite many studies reporting that there are nearly eight million more pet cats than dogs in the U.S.
The CATalyst Council Supports #Cat2VetDay
The CATalyst Council is calling attention to the gap in preventive veterinary care that exists between cats and dogs by supporting National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day on August 22. The goal is to reduce that gap by increasing awareness of the importance of routine veterinary care, sharing tips on how to make a trip to the clinic less stressful and encouraging cat owners to make appointments for their feline family members to be seen by a veterinarian. Again this year, CATalyst Council is working alongside Royal Canin — a leader in pet nutrition and advocate for the health and well-being of cats — and partnering with the American Association of Feline Practitioners, The International Cat Association and the Cat Fanciers’ Association in support of cat health and wellness.
“Cats are part of our families. Their innate curiosity and playful antics make them wonderful companions,” says Jane Brunt, DVM, Executive Director of the CATalyst Council and owner of Cat Hospital At Towson in Maryland.
Cats are Good at Masking Their Illnesses
Yet, even though they may love their pets, many cat owners don’t take their cats to the veterinarian for routine wellness visits. Cost can be one of the obstacles, and even more than cost, the belief that cats don’t need veterinary care as much as dogs. “It’s not that cats are inherently healthier than dogs,” says Brunt. “It’s that they are stoic about their symptoms, making it nearly impossible for even the most observant pet owner to recognize signs of potential problems.” Routine wellness exams can uncover illnesses before they become life threatening — and expensive.
Getting A Cat to the Vet Can Be a Challenge
The other reason that tops the list is getting the cat to the veterinary clinic in the first place. “Cats are fast learners,” says Brunt, “and if the only time a carrier is around is right before an unfamiliar experience, cats will learn to hide when they see or even just hear it.” And that’s just the beginning. “Once the owner drags their cat out from under the sofa,” she says, “there’s still the challenge of getting the cat into the carrier, followed by an uncomfortable ride in a car with a beloved pet who is scared and yowls the entire trip. It’s no wonder so many people avoid taking their cat to the veterinarian.”
Tips for Making a Trip to the Vet with Your Cat More Pleasant
Brunt has several tips to help make it more pleasant — and easier — to get your cat into the carrier — one of the more stressful parts of taking your cat to the veterinarian.
- Keep the carrier out: Bring the carrier out at least a week before the appointment. Better yet, leave it out so the cat can get used to it, explore it, and maybe even curl up and take a nap in it.
- Decorate for cats: Not outside: inside. Make the interior of the carrier interesting and attractive to your feline friend by placing treats, catnip or a favorite toy or two in the carrier.
- Offer praise and rewards: Make the interaction between the cat and the carrier a pleasant one, by offering treats, chin scratches, playtime — whatever makes your cat happy — whenever he or she interacts with it.
- Wear it and share it: Put a recently worn article of your clothing — like a t-shirt or sweatshirt — in the carrier. Not only does this give your cat something to snuggle in or hide under, but your scent can also provide additional comfort.
Your Veterinarian Can Help Your Cat Be Less Anxious
Brunt also suggests working with your veterinarian ahead of time to come up with a plan to reduce your cat’s stress. This may include feline facial pheromone spray or wipes, or prescription medications that will help most cats be less anxious. “Remember,” says Brunt, “cats are both predators and prey. They are the hunters and the hunted. It helps for both cat owners and veterinarians to see the world from a feline perspective, understanding what makes them anxious or afraid, and then taking steps to prevent, minimize and manage those fears.”
Take Your Cat to a Feline-Friendly Veterinarian
It may also help to bring your cat to a feline-only practice, says Brunt, or consider taking your cat to anAAFP-designated Cat Friendly Practice®, or a clinic that has been certified as Fear Free. Facilities and practitioners with these designations are focused on making visits to the vet as stress-free as possible.
To help cat lovers everywhere get involved in National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day, Royal Canin is asking cat owners to share a photo of their kitty or offer tips for a less stressful visit to the vet. For every post tagged with #Cat2VetDay in August, Royal Canin will donate $5*to Frankie’s Friends, a non-profit that helps with the cost of veterinary care for pets whose families can’t afford the full cost of treatment.
“Cats require more than love,” says Brunt. “They need our attention and care to keep them healthy and happy. And taking them in for routine wellness visits is one of the best ways to keep them purring for a long time.”
For more information and resources to help you take your cat to the vet, or to help others learn about the importance of bringing cats in for routine veterinary care, please see the links below:
- AAFP Take Your Cat to the Vet Day web page
- Royal Canin’s Take Your Cat to the Vet Day web page
- Royal Canin #Cat2VetDay press release
 Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study III: Feline Findings http://www.bayerdvm.com/show.aspx/resources/feline-practitioners-resource-center/bayer-veterinary-care-usage-study
 Banfield State of Pet Health Report, 2016: http://www.banfield.com/Banfield/media/PDF/Downloads/soph/Banfield-State-of-Pet-Health-Report-2016.pdf
* Subject to a maximum donation of $20,000