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National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day - August 22

Thursday, August 10, 2017  
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Regular veterinary care is key to the health and happiness of your cat, but many cats find these visits stressful and make the trip challenging for their owners as well.  National Bring Your Cat the Vet Day on August 22 serves as a reminder to set a check-up appointment for your cat.  The Arizona Veterinary Medical Association shares several suggestions from the American Association of Feline Practitioners for making your veterinary visits as pleasant as they are important.

 

“Cats evolved to be extremely good at hiding medical problems, including pain. This leads owners to believe that their cat is healthy and there is no need to visit the veterinarian. Your veterinarian is trained to detect problems through the physical exam and diagnostic testing.  Unfortunately, common problems such as regular vomiting and poor relationships between cats sharing a home are thought of as ‘normal’ cat issues, but these can and should be resolved so that your cat can live a long happy and healthy life,” says Dr. Judy Karnia, DVM, of Scottsdale Cat Clinic in Scottsdale.

 

The first challenge for many cat owners is getting their pet into a carrier to make the trip to their veterinarian.  Plan ahead and keep your carrier out at home where your cat can learn to trust it.  Place favorite bedding and toys in the carrier with the door propped open.  Reward time spent voluntarily in the carrier with treats.  Some carriers have doors on the top and in front.  If your cat resists getting in on the day of your appointment, a top-opening carrier may be easier to use.  Synthetic feline facial pheromones are available without a prescription as sprays, wipes, collars, and diffusers and serve as a signal to your cat that the area or items with the applied scent are a safe zone.  They can produce a calming effect.

 

Practices that provide separate cat entrances and waiting rooms, as well as staff trained in the sometimes-subtle needs of cats, may be an easier option for appointments.  Some veterinary practices have earned the designation “Cat Friendly Practice®,” a program established by the AAFP and the International Society for Feline Medicine (ISFM) to make feline veterinary visits less stressful. 

 

Coming home also presents challenges, especially if there are additional cats in your home.  Cats have a keen sense of smell and your cats might not recognize the returning cat after it has been elsewhere.  This could cause them to behave aggressively toward it.  You might decide to keep the returning cat in its carrier and evaluate the others’ behavior before allowing the cat to rejoin the group.  You might need to temporarily separate the cats into different rooms.  Synthetic feline facial pheromone is sometimes helpful in these situations as well.  Bringing all of your cats to the veterinarian together can also help.

 

Many feline practitioners recommend semiannual exams for optimal health screening; the AAFP and American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommend a minimum of yearly exams and more frequent exams based on health and age.  Visits to your veterinarian help keep up with your cat’s aging process — they are about age 24 in human years at two years old, then age four years for each year after that, so a lot can happen medically in six months to a year.  Cats have evolved to hide pain and illness for survival; veterinarians are trained to see beyond your pet’s demeanor during their examination and conduct tests if needed.  This health intervention can prove life-saving.

 

With the US cat obesity rate close to 59%, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, it is possible that your cat is in need of some expert diet, nutrition and exercise guidance, as well as any recommended testing for obesity-related illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease.

 

A check-up is also an opportunity to review vaccinations and discuss any behavioral changes that might indicate health problems.  Dental problems, such as periodontal disease, can be addressed while they are relatively minor and easier to treat.  Your veterinarian can provide at-home dental care advice as well, such as recommended toothbrushes and toothpaste made for cats, as well as brushing techniques.


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