Take Your Cat to the Vet
Why your cat needs to have regular health checkups.
Veterinarian visits are expensive. Taking your cat in for a routine checkup can run over $100 if he’s due for a vaccination. If you have multiple cats, the costs mount. Getting the cat into the carrier, driving him to the vet and having strangers touch him can be traumatic for both the cat and you. For these reasons, many cat owners avoid taking their cats to the vet unless there is an obvious medical problem. In fact, dogs are taken to the vet twice as often as cats are.
Avoiding routine vet visits can be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Cats are very good at hiding pain and other symptoms until they become severe. It’s important for a vet to give your cat a head-to-tail exam at least once a year to check for parasites, indications of disease or anything else out of the ordinary. If your cat is older or has any existing health issues, he should see the vet twice a year.
The vet will check your cat’s eyes, ears, teeth, gums and body and listen to his heart and breathing. She will also weigh your cat, and might recommend blood work, especially if your cat is senior. If any problems are found, they can be dealt with before they become more serious—and more expensive.
It’s a good idea to bring a stool sample in a plastic baggie to your appointment. That way, the vet can test for intestinal parasites right away.
The annual vet visit is a good time to discuss other topics with the doctor. Is your cat exhibiting any unusual behaviors? Has he suddenly started urinating outside the litterbox? Has his appetite increased or diminished? Is he drinking more or less water than normal? Changes like these can be indications of underlying medical issues.
If you are avoiding vet visits because your cat goes postal at the sight of his carrier, there are steps you can take to calm him down. Start by placing the carrier in an area your cat frequents so it isn’t a signal that a vet visit is imminent. Leave the door open and put a favorite blanket, a couple of toys and some treats inside.
Put a calming plug-in near the carrier or spray the inside of the carrier with a calming spray. These synthetic pheromone products are designed to reduce anxiety in cats by mimicking the scent of lactating mother cats.
Take your cat on car rides that don’t end up at the vet. Drive around for several minutes and then come home and give your cat a treat or a favorite toy. This will lead him to associate car rides with rewards rather than punishment.
In extreme cases, your vet can prescribe a sedative to be given shortly before visits. This will make it easier for you to transport your cat and will also make it easier for the vet to examine him.
If your cat still gets very stressed by vet visits, it is possible to find vets who make house calls. Ask your vet if she does, or if she can recommend someone who does. Keeping your cat in familiar surroundings and skipping the car ride will reduce his anxiety significantly and will make his annual checkups relatively painless for both of you.
About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”