There has been something missing at Creve Coeur Animal Hospital and every other animal hospital and clinic around the world, cats. Cat owners are much less likely to bring their cats into the veterinary facility for regular care than dog owners; this has been shown by multiple studies. The next logical question is “why”. The reasons are many, but top on the list are: stress and difficulty, cost, and the perception that an apparently healthy cat does not need healthcare. As veterinary professionals, we have often not done a good enough job at educating cat owner about why their cat needs to visit the veterinarian even when not outwardly sick. In fact there are many reasons why all cats need regular healthcare.
First, most cats are overweight, yet most cat owners think their cat is not overweight. Overweight cats are much more prone to serious health problems than their trim counterparts. Often weight problems could have been prevented by well pet visits to the animal hospital where weight prevention or treatment could have been discussed, implemented, and treated. Cats that present to us in middle age overweight or obese may already have the beginnings of a variety of serious diseases such as, type II diabetes, fatty liver disease and osteoarthritis. These diseases are life threatening and painful in addition to being easier and less expensive to prevent than they are to treat.
Second, kidney disease is a top killer for cats. Again, this is a disease that is much easier and more effectively treated in the early stages than in the end stages. A simple exam, consultation, urine test, and blood test, could identify cats with the beginnings of kidney disease. Once diagnosed, simple and economical steps, along with regular monitoring, can be taken to slow the progression of the disease.
Third, parasites are common in cats yet often undiagnosed. Fleas do not always make cats itch (only flea allergic pets itch), but they can carry blood parasites as well as tapeworms. Blood parasites can be detected using blood tests and tapeworms can be detected during physical examination and in stool exams. Even indoor cats get fleas are bitten by biting insects, so once again, prevention is key.
Fourth, a full 50% of cats that appear to have normal mouths have dental disease. Dental disease is nearly undetectable without a dental examination and x-rays. Cats with dental disease, rarely stop eating and simply live with the pain, they have no other options. In addition to these common exam findings in apparently health cats, there are many other problems that can be detected and prevented with regular wellness examinations.
Cat owners should fight the temptation to leave their cat at home and muster the courage to bring him or her in for a wellness examination; it might be the best way to love your cat!