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Answers from vets about your cat:

Why Your Cat Needs Regular Checkups

Reviewed by Dr. Peter Kintzer, DVM, DACVIM on Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Posted August 21, 2014 in Cat Checkups & Preventive Care

Did you know that according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), cats are brought to the veterinarian less often than dogs? Why is that? Is it because dogs outnumber cats? Or do cats really have nine lives and don’t need to go to the veterinarian?Kitten at the vet for a checkup

Does America have more cats or dogs?
Okay, let’s start with the facts. According to the AVMA, in 2011, cats outnumbered dogs approximately 74.1 million to 70 million in US households. So while the number of dogs in US households has recently surged, cats continue to be America’s most popular pet. Why then, do cats receive less veterinary care? Are they really healthier?

The barriers to veterinary care for cats
Many theories have been proposed to explain the discrepancy in veterinary care between cats and dogs. Unfortunately, being healthier or having nine lives is not one of them.

One of the proposed theories is based on the observation that cats are masters of hiding illness. In the “survival of the fittest” world of our domestic cat’s wild ancestors, it is believed that hiding illness gave them a survival advantage by masking weakness. As a result, our domestic cats have become skilled at hiding their symptoms until problems become very advanced. Unfortunately, without the specialized training of a veterinarian, cat parents can easily miss the subtle, early symptoms, and not visit the veterinarian when they need to.  

Another reason why cats are brought to the veterinarian less often than dogs is based on the fear cat parents have that a visit to the veterinarian will be a stressful experience for their cat and themselves. Cats are smart, so it doesn’t take long for them to figure out what’s going on. If they don't want to go to the veterinarian, they will fight you tooth and nail. Anyone who has dealt with a fractious cat knows how quickly a cuddly kitty can transform into a fighting, clawing, biting fury of fur.

How can we get cats the veterinary care they need?
So what can you, as a cat parent, do to ensure your cat gets the level of veterinary care he deserves? Like dogs, cats need routine veterinary care to insure they are protected against preventable illnesses. The AAFP-AAHA Feline Life Stage Guidelines recommend that all cats have wellness examinations at least once a year, and more frequent visits may be recommended for

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Ruth has more than 15 years of experience in the veterinary industry as a companion animal veterinarian in private practice. Along with being a writer and media personality, she is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.