Monday, December 22, 2014

The BEST Holiday Gift for Your Cat

If you're reading this, then you, like me, include your cat in every celebration. In December, whatever you celebrate it's a pretty safe bet that you cat will be getting presents. Only you know what you have planned. A new bed? A new scratching post or cat tree? A new toy or two? Some special kitty treats? Some sort of goody is on your gift list but do you know what your cat really needs? The best thing you can give your cat? It's a visit to his or her veterinarian. Really.

There are some interesting facts that lead me to this conclusion and I'm happy to share them with you.
In the United States there are 86 million owned cats and 78 million owned dogs yet nearly twice as many cats than dogs never visit the veterinarian. Think about that for a minute. What's wrong with this picture?

41% of cats only go to the veterinarian for vaccinations and 39% of cat owners say that they would only take their cat to the veterinarian if it was sick. 83% of cats are taken to the veterinarian within the first year that they're owned but over half of them do not return. That's a sad fact. 

"Little One," photo by Gary Rhode, finds a shoebox comfy. 

Why? 60% of cat owners say their cat hates to go to the veterinarian, 39% only take the cat to the veterinarian if the cat is sick and 38% report that the thought of taking their cat to the veterinarian stresses them out.

This really is an issue that's easily resolved but it seems that few people have sought help, or even information that could help them. Yet a full 56% of owners say they would bring their cat to the veterinarian more often if they knew it could prevent problems.

Wellness started in human medicine but moved to veterinarian medicine. Preventive care is as important for our pets as it is for us. That yearly visit to the veterinarian can help prevent disease, or catch it early before it becomes advanced and more difficult to treat.  Your veterinarian can also teach you to brush your cat's teeth. Healthy teeth and gums are as important for our pets as they are for us. All sorts of germs can leech down from dirty teeth and cause a wide range of health problems.

My cat, Aimee, is now 15 years old. When she was about 12  I took her for her first Senior Wellness Exam. It included a full range of blood work and tests to see what her baseline is so that her veterinarian can tell if something is changing and catch it early. Senior cats should visit their veterinarian twice a year.  Putting off veterinary visits is a case of pennywise and pound foolish. If kitty really gets sick it will cost you more in the end to try to fix the problem, and it will be harder on both you and your kitty.

"Velvet" photo by Sue Janson

Cats are experts at hiding illness and Feline Practitioners are experts in feline health.  Please don't wait until kitty is really ill.

The sad thing is that only 18% of cat owners report that they have received instruction teaching them how to transport their cat. Transporting a cat isn't all that difficult. Cats are extremely intelligent and they only need to learn that their carrier is a wonderful place to be.  Bring the carrier out, leave it open and put a soft towel, or pad or snuggly blanket in there. You might want to add a toy. Let kitty get used to going in an out. There is a product called Feliway that will help calm the cat.  You may have heard of it as a plug-in room spray, or as a spray can but it also comes in the form of wipes. You can wipe the inside of the carrier, especially before the trip to the veterinarian, to help calm kitty.

When you arrive at the veterinary hospital, hopefully there will be a separate waiting room for cats but whether there is or not, keep kitty's carrier on a chair next to you so it's elevated. Cats like higher places. Turn the carrier toward you so she's not making eye contact with other cats or curious dogs. You may opt to put a towel on top of the carrier and drop it down over the door for privacy which can make kitty feel more secure.

My veterinarian sees all manner of pets in her practice but she's also a Feline Practitioner. The American Association of Feline Practitioners is an organization of veterinarians who are dedicated to cats and their health. Their website has a special section for pets owners with  downloadable brochures to help you and your kitty as well as a listing of members so you can locate a Feline Practitioner near you. You can find them at:

Photo by Darlene Arden

Here are some helpful links:

Getting your cat to the veterinarian:

Signs and Symptoms of illness:

Getting Your Cat to the Veterinarian Brochure:

More educational brochures are available on the website. Spend some time looking around.  It's a great resource for cat owners, whether new or experienced.

Aimee and I wish you a your special cat(s) a wonderful holiday season! Call and make that veterinary appointment now, while you're thinking about it, and give kitty the gift of good health every year! 

And to All A Goodnight!

"Alana" photo by Claire Clayton

American Association of Feline Practitioners:

Ownership Statistics in the U.S.:

Statistics Simplified:

Petxpert Podcast with Dr, .Jane Brunt of The Catalyst Council:


Gordon Brice said...

That is a wonderful blog, Darlene and I hope that those who do not take their feline companions for regular veterinarian check ups, will now do so having read your blog. I am shocked by the statistics that you have quoted. Our furry companions are family members ......if we were feeling very poorly, we would go and get it checked out. Our pets are unable to tell us when they are not feeling well and, it is therefore important to have regular checks to help avoid serious problems from developing later. Thank you as always for more great advice.

Caren Gittleman said...

Super important post! Thankfully we always go to the vet for the required wellness exams and whenever something isn't "right" Sadly, the people who NEED to see this, might not. Wonderful information! Oh and tomorrow we are bringing gifts to our Vet, a T-shirt for him and a big tin of popcorn and a chocolate Christmas Tree cake for the office/groomers!

Rescuegal said...

Wonderful blog, Darlene, packed with very important information. Sadly, as Caren Gittleman said, those who really need to see this, probably won't. Had I not taken my sweet Velvet for her annual physical, I would have missed an abscessed tooth (she gave no indication anything was wrong) which could have created major health problems for her. As it was, tooth was pulled, antibiotics were given and all is well.

Keep on sharing your wealth of information, because if just one dog or cat can be saved from unnecessary injury or illness then every effort on your part is well worth it.

PS Thanks for using Velvet's picture. :-).

Darlene said...

Hi Gordon,
Thank you for your wonderful comments! I truly appreciate it.
You're right, the statistics are shocking. I'm hoping enough people will e-mail the link to the post and share it on social networking so that perhaps we can save at least one cat.

Darlene said...

Hi Caren,
Thank you for commenting. I'm so afraid that you're right, that the people who need to see this information won't. All I can do is put it out there in cyberspace, onto the social networking sites that I'm on, as well as e-mail, and pray that people will share it so more cat owners will see it.
We're on the same wave-length - I met our Vet for lunch on Saturday and gave her practical gifts for someone living in New England and today Aimee's petsitter got her gifts. :-)

Darlene said...

Hi Rescuegal,
Thanks so much, I'm so glad you liked this blog post. You're such a great cat and dog mom. You're so right about that abscessed tooth! Thankfully, you and Velvet avoided what could have been huge health problems.
Thank you, too, for letting me share Velvet's picture with my readers. She's such a sweet girl!

Vallie Szymanski said...

Wonderful article, Darlene. Our kitties see our dear vet Kurt every year. It is a process to get them loaded into their cat carriers but Joe has a special way of making that happen! VERY important that felines have their wellness exams every year!!

Sharon Crowell-Davis said...

Great article. I would add that people should periodically toss a treat in the back of the carrier that's sitting open at home so that the cat associates it with somethiing really special.

Darlene said...

Thank you, Vallie. Great pet parents know that their cats as well as their dogs need an annual check-up until they're seniors and then they need to go twice a year!

Darlene said...

Thank you, Sharon. You certainly know so it's quite a compliment coming from you.

You're right, of course. I should have adding periodically tossing a treat into the carrier. Heaven knows I do that for Aimee!

Liama Jhons said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.