Dr. Jeff Werber is an Emmy Award-winning, nationally renowned veterinarian and former president of the Association of Veterinary Communicators. For more from Dr. Werber, find him on Facebook or on his website at www.drjeff.com.
I recently read the “Vital Statistics,” a report by the American Veterinary Medical Association, detailing statistics regarding pet ownership and veterinary care, and I must say I was rather surprised. Though the population of pet cats in the U.S. is still greater than that of pet dogs (74.1 million cats vs. 69.9 million dogs), an astounding 45% of you cat “lovers” did not take your cat or cats to the veterinarian even once in 2011.
How scary is that?
Why? Well, about 54% of you simply stated that your cat(s) weren’t sick or injured at all, 21.5% said you couldn’t afford it, a little over 17% said it was because your cats didn’t need any vaccines, and just over 4% said it was because your cats were too hard to transport. In contrast, that figure for dogs was actually under 19%! Do dog lovers love their dogs more than you cat lovers love your cats? I personally have 6 cats who share my home with my 5 dogs, and I check them out at least once a year (my more senior cats even more).
This same large group of cat parents (56%) considered their cats as true “family members,” while 41.5% considered them to be “pets” or “companions.” Am I the only one concerned about this frightening disconnect? You see your cats as your four-legged children, or at least your companions, yet you don’t take them to their doctor for checkups? It is true that our vaccines protocols have changed over the years, and many, if not most of us no longer recommend annual vaccinations, but that doesn’t mean you should only be bringing your cats in for checkups once every 3 years! Remember, it’s great that you consider your cats like part of the family, but unlike your two-legged kids, they don’t complain or readily exhibit outward signs of sickness. In fact, by the time you actually notice your cat is not well, the disease process might be fairly advanced.
Remember, prevention is key, and the best way to keep your furry felines in tip-top shape is to make sure they see your veterinarian for a physical exam at least once a year, and 2 to 3 times a year as they reach their senior years. If you love them as much as you say you do, show it by practicing good preventive medicine. I promise—they’ll love you back!
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.