Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cat Corner

                  This month I wanted to write about one of my favorite topics: cats! I grew up in a home with cats and though I love dogs, cats hold a very special place in my heart.  There is nothing quite like relaxing with a cat curled up in your lap, purring away.  I have a 3 year old cat, named Bender, a brown black tabby, and he is my inspiration. My goal is to give him the best care so he lives well into his late teens or even twenties!  I thought I would share some key tips with you to help you keep your cats happy and healthy too.  

My best buddy Bender

Here is this week’s cat tip:

Cats need annual exams and vaccines just as much as dogs do
               Statistically we know that far fewer cats make it to their veterinarian for their annual check-ups when compared to their canine counterparts. Why is this? I think there are a few reasons. One may be that many cats are staying indoors so owners feel they have less of a need for vaccines.  Though keeping your cat indoors certainly decreases their risk of infectious diseases vaccines are still important for several reasons. One is that you can actually bring virus particles into your household on your clothing, meaning you cat can still get sick even when not getting outside. Another big reason I recommend vaccinations for indoor-only cats is that if they do happen to get sick, need a dental cleaning or surgery, or have an emergency and need to stay in the hospital, they will really need the protection from the vaccines.  If not they will be highly susceptible to getting an infection while in clinic. Finally some cats (like mine) are very sneaky and will sometimes dash out the door when we come home from an outing meaning that despite our best efforts they are not 100% indoor-only. 
              Another big reason I think many cats don’t make it for their annual check-up is that, let’s face it, most cats seem to hate coming to the vet clinic. In fact they seem to really hate going for car rides in general.  Owners may feel they are being mean bringing their cats somewhere they clearly do not want to go. Though it may seem difficult in the short term, in the long run it is much better for your cat to have a veterinary team familiar with their normal health, so they can pick up on when things are going wrong. A regular check-up will ensure we pick up on health problems early and make treatments easier and less costly.  There are several things you can do to make the visit to the vet easier on you and your cat. First of all help your cat get used to their cat carrier. The easiest way to do this is to leave the carrier out all the time, with a comfy pillow or blanket inside. Your cat will soon find it is a nice place to relax. You can even offer treats or special toys when you find your cat relaxing in their carrier. Your cat will then begin to associate the carrier with happy experiences and will not resist entering the carrier when you need to take him somewhere. 
               You can take a similar approach with riding in the car. Slowly get your cat used to the car. The first time you go out you can simply bring the carrier to the car and sit in the driveway. Next time try starting the car or maybe just going for a short drive around the block. Next time perhaps a longer drive. By doing this several times you cat will learn that every car ride does not inevitably end at the veterinary clinic.  If your cat will take treats while in the car it can help to develop a positive association with car rides.  If you try these techniques and your cat continues to be very stressed when visiting the veterinarian, consider asking one of our veterinary team members about using a sedative.  Due to advances in medicine in recent years we now have some very safe options for sedatives you can give at home prior to your visit. These will not interfere with the results of our physical exam and will make the visit easier on your cat and you!
Bender in clinic after having dental surgery

                An annual check-up with your veterinarian is a key component to the plan for a long healthy life for your cat. It helps us as your veterinary team to become familiar with what is normal for your cat on their physical exam .This allows us to better recognize when things start to change. We will be able to pick up on health problems and address them much earlier. In cats this is crucial as they tend to hide signs of sickness until they are very severely ill.  Don’t wait until your cat is showing signs of illness to bring them in! 

Check back on the blog in the next couple weeks for the next cat tip where I will write about one of the single most important aspects of your cat’s health: what they eat.

Thanks for reading,
Dr. Ingrid Sproll 

1 comment:

Dave Thompson said...

That is one of the cutest cats I've ever seen. I had a cat just like that as a kid. Ever since I have loved cats, and would love to own another as a pet someday.

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