Regular check-ups can help cats live long and healthy lives. Unfortunately, too many cats don't go to the veterinarian as often as they should-and some don't go at all. There are lots of benefits to taking your feline friend to the veterinarian at least once a year.
Catch Health Conditions Early
Annual wellness visits give your veterinarian the opportunity to detect health issues in the early stages. That's when they can be easier to treat, and the outcome can be better for your cat. Plus, it can be cheaper and take less time to treat a health condition that is caught sooner rather than later.
Track Your Cat's Weight
Obesity is a growing problem for cats, and it can lead to all sorts of health problems, such as joint pain, diabetes, and heart disease. During a regular visit, your veterinarian will weigh your cat and compare their weight to previous visits. If your cat is getting heavier, your veterinarian can recommend a healthy diet and exercise plan to nip the issue in the bud.
Avoid Preventable Diseases
Regular visits to the veterinarian help ensure your cat receives all needed vaccines and that they stay up-to-date. Vaccines are important to preventing life-threatening diseases, like feline distemper and rabies. A wellness visit is also a great time to talk to your veterinarian about preventing parasites, like fleas and ticks as well as heartworms (yes, cats can get heartworms!).
Build a Relationship with Your Vet
Routine visits enable you to build a trusting relationship with your veterinarian. This can help you feel comfortable and confident reaching out to them when you have questions or concerns about your cat's health. After all, your veterinarian is the best resource when it comes to your cat. Not only are they experts in cat health, they know your particular cat's medical history.
Remember too that your veterinarian can help you with behavioral issues, like refusing to use the litterbox. They can rule out health conditions, such as a urinary tract infection, and offer tips on addressing the problem.
Help Make Future Vet Visits Easier
It can be a struggle to bring your cat to the veterinarian. Many cats will run and hide at the very sight of their carrier! While your cat may never learn to enjoy going to the veterinarian, routine visits can help familiarize them with the process. At the very least, they may get used to the idea and become less resistant to it over time.
With all of these benefits, why don't all cat parents take their purring pals to the veterinarian? There are plenty of excuses, but none of them should prevent you from providing your cat with essential routine medical care. Here are some examples:
- My cat looks healthy. You can't see health conditions, such as high blood pressure or a heart irregularity. It can also be hard to notice signs your cat is sick, especially if your cat likes to hide or mask their symptoms when they're not feeling well. An annual visit can help make sure nothing is bothering your cat.
- I can use the internet. It's fine to use the internet as a resource regarding your cat's health, but it should never be a replacement for your veterinarian. The information you find online may not be reliable, and it can lead you in the wrong direction.
- It costs too much. How much you pay for a routine wellness visit depends on where you live and the veterinary practice you choose. In any case, it shouldn't break the bank. It can also help you save money by catching health issues early when they can be less expensive to treat. A pet insurance plan can also help you manage the costs of your cat's veterinary care.
- I don't have time. Life is busy, and it can be hard to fit one more thing into your schedule. But you should make your cat's health a priority so you can enjoy many happy years together.
- I don't have a vet yet. It's a good idea to have a veterinarian for your cat not only for wellness visits but also so you know who to call if your cat gets hurt or sick suddenly. You can use this Vet Finder or ask local friends to recommend a veterinary practice in your area.
- My cat hates the vet. Going to the veterinarian can be a stressful experience for both you and your cat, but it's well worth the trouble. It'll be over soon enough, and it can help your cat live a longer and healthier life.
Tips to Take Your Cat to the Veterinarian
Taking a cat to the veterinarian can be as tough as giving them a bath! But there are things you can do to make it easier.
- Choose the right size carrier. Your cat's carrier should be big enough that your cat can sit inside and turn around comfortably, but not so big that your cat feels insecure. It can also be unwieldy for you to carry if it is too large.
- Pick a carrier with multiple doors. For instance, use a cat carrier with a door at the top and one on each end. This can help you get your cat in and out easier while making the experience less stressful for them.
- Add a blanket or towel. This way your cat can get warm and cozy. It will also help keep them from slipping around as you move the carrier and absorb any accidents that might happen. You can also look for a spray product that contains a synthetic version of a pheromone cats release when they're happy. Spritz the blanket or towel with it to help alleviate anxiety.
- Introduce your cat to the carrier. While few of us want our cat's carrier as part of our décor, making it a part of their daily life helps it to be less threatening. Make a point to offer a daily, scrumptious treat in the carrier. Soon your cat will associate the carrier with tasty rewards!
- Tempt your cat to check out the carrier. If your cat doesn't seem to have an interest in the carrier, put a couple of yummy treats or a sprinkle of catnip inside. Avoid forcing your cat into the carrier, or they might become afraid or anxious when you try to coax them in the next time.
- Take a few short trips. You can help your cat get used to the carrier and the car by taking a short drive around the neighborhood. Give your cat some treats afterward so they associate the experience with something positive.
- Place your cat in the carrier backward. This way they won't have a chance to see where they're going and try to escape. Stay calm and be careful when you do it, so neither of you get hurt.
- Cover the carrier with a light blanket or towel. This can help your cat feel safe and secure. Be sure your cat has enough air and doesn't get too warm. And of course, remove the covering immediately if it upsets your cat.
Never been to the veterinarian? Learn about what happens at the first vet visit for cats.
When you bring a cat into your home, you take full responsibility for them. This means providing them with essentials, such as food, water, a litterbox, interactive toys, and proper healthcare. Cats are a lot like our children, and we have to be prepared to do everything we can to keep them healthy, safe, and happy!