There are more than 81 million pet cats in the United States, easily making them the most popular pet in our country. Cats make wonderful pets because they are affectionate, playful and intelligent. They are also notorious for being independent, requiring little day-to-day care, and for retaining many of their wild instincts. It is their natural “wild” behaviors and intuitions that are so appealing to us as pet owners. Unfortunately, these instinctual behaviors are responsible for millions of undiagnosed and untreated cat diseases every year.
Cats are descendants of wild predators with complex social structures. They have survival instincts unlike most domesticated pets and it is very difficult to know when a cat is in pain, feeling unwell or suffering from an internal disease. They are notorious for hiding pain and discomfort from their owners and even from the most experienced veterinarians and nurses. Unfortunately, cats can acquire many diseases that are not only treatable, but preventable. Examples include diabetes, conditions of the thyroid, tooth and gum infections, and even kidney diseases.
It would make sense to take these secretive animals to the veterinarian often for routine health exams, bloodwork, parasite control and nutrition counseling. Unfortunately, cats are not getting the health care they need. Recent studies reveal 72 percent (60 million) pet cats have not been seen by a veterinarian in the last year. The most common reason cited by owners for not seeking veterinary care for their cats is “they were unaware there was anything wrong with their cat.”
The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends that young cats have examinations a minimum of once a year. As cats age, they should see their veterinarian at least twice a year or as necessary for their specific conditions. Remember, it is far easier to prevent diseases than to treat them, so give cats the health care they deserve.