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August 19, 2011 > Veterinary & Pet News: When is the last time your cat went to the vet?

Veterinary & Pet News: When is the last time your cat went to the vet?

"Dogs come when you call them. Cats take a message and get back to you when they are good and ready." -unknown author

Without a doubt, cats are the number one pet in America. There are 82 million pet cats in the US compared to 72 million dogs. However, the number of veterinary visits for cats is declining every year compared to dogs. Veterinarians were alarmed to see a recent survey that showed that three times as many cats compared to dogs, had not seen a veterinarian within the past year.

Dogs are pack animals preferring a pack of friends rather than be loners. Dogs spend a lot of time interacting with their owners and, as a result, people are very in-tune with their dogs.

Cat fanciers admire the independent nature of cats. Cats are very good at hiding injuries and illnesses. For this reason, cats are in even more need of annual examinations to determine any hidden illness. A wellness examination conducted annually, or more often as needed, is the best insurance cat owners can have that their cat is healthy.

Unfortunately, the disparity in care of dog and cat owners is due to common myths such as:

Cats are naturally healthier and more problem free than dogs
Cats will display visible signs of illness like dogs do
Health problems in cats come from going outdoors and they can't get sick being inside

These common myths do a great disservice to the proper care of cats. Cats are masters of disguise because they hide diseases so well. We tend to see our feline patients in more advanced states of illness than their canine counterparts. The disease usually has progressed further than the symptoms exhibited by feline patients.

The other reason many pet owners cite for not taking their cats to the veterinarian is the difficulty in getting cats into carriers and dealing with a stressed cat in the car and later at the veterinary clinic.

It's important to minimize stress for cats and desensitizing them by following the following guidelines:

Perform "mini exams" at home to get your kitty used to being handled. Try to touch the ears, feet, tummy, etc. to get her used to being handled.

Try dry runs to the veterinarian by placing your cat in a cat carrier, driving around the block to get used to the trip and desensitizing her.

Cats are smart at hiding when they see the cat carrier. Get your cat used to seeing the carrier at least a few weeks before you visit the veterinarian. It may also be desirable to provide positive reinforcement by offering treats or other rewards in their cat carrier so they associate good times with the carrier.

As a team, we can work collaboratively to ensure that our feline friends get the care they need; they deserve to live a long, happy, and healthy life.

Dr Raj Salwan is a second generation Veterinarian and has been around Veterinary Medicine for over 23 years. His interests include Internal Medicine, Surgery, Emergency/Acute Care, and general small animal practice. He currently works at American Animal Care in Fremont and can be reached via email at or

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