The challenges in taking a pet to the vet are well-known to cat owners. Cats are the second most popular and widely-owned pet across the United States, with reports of 46.5 million households owning one as of 2023. More so, a survey conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association found that 76% of cat owners think of their pets as part of the family. As parents to fierce little felines, owners are far too aware of the upcoming battle they will face when coaxing their beloved cat into a carrier, bound towards a destination that can only be described as their worst nightmare—the vet. Sometimes, your cat may even treat you like you're their worst enemy!
Looking at things from a feline perspective, it could appear as if they were plucked from their comfortable surroundings against their will by their owners. Cats live a sheltered life in the house with predictable everyday routines, so when they are taken to a location foreign to them, it can cause a great deal of stress. Even the smallest of alterations to their daily norm can cause them anxiety. Used to being a pampered member of the family, cats can be very sensitive to changes in their environment.
Your feline companion does not have a proper understanding of what is going on or why they are being probed and prodded by a “strange” individual. Going through procedures such as receiving vaccinations and thorough examinations, having their bodies maneuvered in different ways, mouths being pried open, and more can be invasive. Not to mention, the clinic can be noisy and busy. At the same time, they are also experiencing intense smells, sights, sounds, and touch from other people and pets around them. These experiences can overstimulate their senses and cause unpleasant feelings.
Unfortunately, many cats are not getting the regular veterinary care they require. Cat owners often hold off on routine check-ups due to concerns about their cats getting stressed, displaying aggression, or exhibiting undesirable behavior at the vet. For instance, a 2021 report showed that while 81.8% of dogs visited a vet, only 39.8% of cats received veterinary care.
Common reasons for less frequent veterinary visits
As masters of disguise, cats can hide pain
“Oh, they look fine!”—until they’re not. Cats have a natural instinct to hide their pain, which they have inherited from their wild ancestors through evolution. This makes it crucial for them to visit the vet, as their ability to conceal pain can make detecting any underlying medical or health issues difficult. Living with your cat can help you notice when they are not feeling their best, but sometimes the subtle behavior changes in your feline friend can be easily overlooked. Perhaps you may mistake these changes for moodiness and not think much of it. Despite any issues your cat has with going to the vet, it is imperative they receive annual check-ups. Monitor their behavior—even if you believe something to be minor and are unsure, it is always best to be safe and make that appointment! It is essential and vitally important.
Some changes that might occur to indicate that a cat is experiencing pain include abnormal postures, changes in daily habits and activities, meowing more than normal, hissing when approached, and more.
Cat Owners’ misconceptions regarding the health requirements of cats
Many people consider cats to be low-maintenance pets. Being relatively independent, cats do not need to be taken out multiple times a day like dogs. They don't require any formal training, can take care of basic self-cleaning, and are pretty self-sustainable. With this, cat parents may feel like taking care of a cat is easier than a dog.
However, some cat owners might misconstrue this to mean that they do not have to care for them as much as they would any other pet—which is inaccurate. Cats still need to be cared for and have many additional health needs that must be met daily. They are lovely companions that require a significant amount of love and attention. From providing them with a comfortable living space to ensuring their nutritional needs are met, caring for a feline friend can be a fulfilling responsibility. Additionally, keeping them entertained and active is important for their physical and mental well-being, as is maintaining their grooming needs and ensuring their litter box is fresh and clean.
Overall, caring for a cat requires a dedicated and attentive approach, along with lots of love! Regular visits to a veterinarian are crucial to guarantee that your feline's health and wellness needs are well taken care of. While cat parents may find it “easier” to care for their furry friends compared to dog parents, they must not make the assumption that their feline companion is in good health just because there are no apparent issues or signs of illness on the surface.
It is a hassle to transport cats to the vet
As a cat owner, taking your furry friend to the vet can be a stressful experience for both of you, and it's no surprise that transportation is where most of the trouble starts. I bet there are plenty of cat owners out there nodding their heads right now! For one, it can pose a challenge getting them in the car. They might scratch, hiss, try to run and hide, or display other types of anxiety-induced behaviors. With cats feeling stressed about the situation, owners may have difficulty calming them down enough to put them in their carrier and directly into the vehicle. At some point, you might even feel like throwing in the towel and staying put at home!
According to VCA Hospitals, cats are very territorial about their home and space, so when they are taken from one familiar environment and brought to a completely new one, it may be overwhelming for them. Cats spend a good amount of time scent marking their space, so being removed from what they are used to may cause confusion. Not to mention, transportation can make them feel nauseous or sick.
For many people, obtaining veterinary care for their pets can be expensive and out of reach. Whether it's regular checkups or unexpected medical issues, the cost of taking care of pets can quickly become a burden for owners. A report by the Access to Veterinary Care Coalition has shown that 25% of pet owners face obstacles when trying to obtain veterinary care, with financial constraints being the main reason. Therefore, it is essential to find affordable options to ensure your pets receive the care they require.
Why you should be bringing your cat for routine visits
As pet lovers, we value our adorable companions and desire the best for their well-being. To ensure their safety, happiness, and good health, this means understanding the importance of taking them for annual check-ups to the vet!
Annual vet visits make it much more feasible for veterinarians to detect early signs of diseases or illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, allergies, and more. They will then be able to provide your cat with the appropriate treatment needed to obtain optimal health and prevent any future issues. Cats are prone to severe diseases and infections such as chronic kidney disease, feline leukemia, osteoarthritis, and parasitism. Services like vaccination, parasite prevention, bloodwork, physical exams, weight and nutrition management, behavioral counseling, and dental exam and cleaning play a role in early intervention and preventative care, which can help prolong your feline friend's life!
Bringing your beloved feline companion to the veterinary clinic can be an anxiety-inducing experience that may trigger feelings of discomfort and uneasiness in your cat.
To make it a smooth encounter, here are a couple of vet-recommended tips that can help ease your feline friend's nerves and make the trip to the vet a much more pleasant one!