Taking Better Care of Our Cats

It seems that cats are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to veterinary care. Research has shown that cat owners are taking their cats to the vet less often. Research sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association determined 83% of dogs see a veterinarian annually while only 64% of cats see a veterinarian annually.

Cats are medically underserved, in part because owners are unaware how sick their cat is. Cats, being the clever creatures that they are, can hide illness until it has reached catastrophic proportions.

cat-vaccineThe veterinarians at The AMC recommend annual examinations for all healthy younger cats and for senior cats (>7 years of age) twice annual examination. During the examination, your cat’s veterinarian will monitor your cat’s weight and body condition score as a measure of his/her overall health. The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends the minimum database in senior cats include a complete blood count, chemistry screen, and urinalysis.  Once cats pass their 10th birthday, testing thyroid function and blood pressure are recommended. Together, you and the veterinarians will discuss your cat’s lifestyle and decide on what preventive healthcare measures are required to keep you cat in tip top condition. The preventive measures include: vaccinations, parasite prevention, behavioral interventions and nutritional recommendations. Your cat’s veterinarian may suggest testing for occult infections such as feline immunodeficiency virus, feline leukemia virus and feline heartworms.

People other than just those of us at The AMC are thinking about cats and cat health too. There is an interesting new cat website (www.kittytest.com).  This website displays the frequency of important cat diseases by geographic location. The information contained in kittensthis website will help the cat owner determine how often a disease is diagnosed in their county and open the door for a risk analysis for their cat with the family veterinarian. This website is similar to, but not the same as, a registry of disease for people like the governmental vital statistics bureau. The data shown on the website is compiled from the tests performed since 2000 by only one laboratory, but it will help cat owners to know how common these diseases are in their neighborhoods and give them some information with which to open a discussion with their veterinarian. Ultimately, any medical tests and treatments should be customized to the lifestyle issues of your cat.

For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts.  Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.

4 Responses to Taking Better Care of Our Cats

  1. […] in 2007. This means pets are medically underserved and small problems can quickly become big ones. Preventive healthcare prevents potentially fatal infectious diseases and difficult to treat disorders such as heartworms. […]

  2. petslover says:

    I must admit I find it insightful to read your blogging. Keep up the good work.

  3. Thank you for your insight and for reading the AMC blog!

  4. Lorie Huston says:

    Great article.

    The most common reasons cat owners cite for not taking their cat to the veterinarian is that either they do not realize cats need regular health care or they cannot recognize when their cat is ill. (Signs of illness in cats are often quite subtle and easy to overlook.) The other common problem with feline veterinary visits is the difficulty in actually getting the cat to the vet, another topic addressed in the guidelines.

    All of the things mentioned in this article are important: examinations, parasite control, nutrition and behavior counseling, etc. Informing cat owners of these requirements is the first step in getting cats the care that they need. Another important health item is dental care and this also is covered in the life stages guidelines.

    Thanks for such an insightful article. Keep up the good work.

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