Myths that lead to our cats to not receiving annual examinations.

Myths that lead to our cats to not receiving annual examinations.

annual examinations feline

Your Cat needs your help.  One of the biggest concerns recently, in the community of feline practitioners, is the lack of veterinary care that our feline patients are receiving. Over eighty percent of cat owners feel veterinary care is important, but less than 50% of cats receive annual examinations. A recent study conducted to study this decline revealed several myths and concerns that may be leading to this figure. In this post I hope to dispel some of these myths and help with some idea on how and why are cats should see their veterinarians more often than the new norm.

Their just healthier?

The first myth I would like to dispel is that cats are healthier then dogs and just don’t need the care that dogs receive. There are two reasons that can lead us to believe this myth. The first is that cats have evolved to hide issues from the colony to insure they retain their place in the colony. When cats are in colonies, individuals that show weakness or disease are pushed away from the colony or lose their position in it. So, one example of this is, when our cats age and develop arthritis they limit the jumps and activities they do. When we first adopt a cat in the first few years we are amazed at their ability to jump to the top of the refrigerator to take their perch overlooking their territory. But as they age rarely do we notice them on top of the refrigerator anymore. The second reason is the belief that the indoor lifestyle of some cats is healthier for them. With each lifestyle choice there are different health risks and concerns. Outdoor cats lead the life of hunters and are more susceptible to injuries, wounds and parasites. While our indoor cats are more likely to develop common diseases of the developed world such as obesity, diabetes, dental disease, and behavioral issues.

Time off?

Another concern of pet owners in general, is the inability to take time off to take our pets to the veterinarian. Most employers understand that their pet is a member of the family and don’t mind employees taking time off to ensure that they see the veterinarian as needed. But to help with the difficulty or fear of taking time off a lot of practices are starting to offer more evening or weekend appointment or the ability to drop off the pet to be examined and picked up later minimizing the time missed from work.

As the ability to care for our companions increases so does the cost of that care. Veterinary medicine is just like every other profession especially in the medical field which has seen increases in cost. When I was young our cats and dogs never received, or would my parents ever imagine them receiving, some of the treatments that are now available today. Such as, Radioactive iodine treatments for hyperthyroidism, or advanced imaging techniques such as CAT scans or MRI. Of course, these treatments come at a cost.

Now the profession is turning to health insurance to help offset these costs, which has been common in the human side for many years. But unfortunately, less than 5% of pets have insurance coverage. Also, many practices are turning to wellness plans to help clients afford the care their companions desire but without the financial strains of paying for yearly veterinary visits all at once. This very helpful strategy is still in the minority.
The final issue which I will discuss completely in the next post is the difficulty of getting our cats to the veterinarian in the first place. Some of the blame falls directly on us as veterinarians and how we have failed to see the visits in the perspective of our patients.