Cat owners probably won’t be surprised to learn that, according to the American Pet Products Association, cats beat out dogs as the most popular pets in America. Yet despite this fact, our feline friends tend to receive less veterinary care than our pampered pooches. The reasons can vary, but the widespread belief that cats are self-sufficient, as well as their tendency to hide signs of illness, can certainly be influential factors.
The truth, however, is that cats aren’t as self-sufficient as we make them out to be, and their ability to mask illnesses is actually a reason to take them for vet visits more often. Indeed, cats require just as much regular veterinary care as a dog -- sometimes more.
Why Do Cats Need Regular Check-Ups?
Regular veterinary check-ups are an opportunity for your vet to examine your cat, make health recommendations, administer vaccination boosters, and identify any illnesses or injuries. These visits are incredibly important for the maintenance of your cat’s overall health, and if your cat has been hiding a medical condition, they can also be live-saving.
Your cat’s regular check-ups will most likely include the following:
- A physical examination.
- A discussion about your cat’s diet, exercise, bathroom habits, behavior, and environment. With this information your veterinarian can make health recommendations or identify potential symptoms of an illness.
- Vaccination boosters. Cats are typically on a 1 to 3 year schedule for boosters, depending on what kind of vaccines they have received.
- A parasite inspection, including a physical examination to check for fleas and ticks and a fecal test to check for internal parasites. Parasite prevention will also be discussed.
- A dental examination to check for signs of dental disease.
When To Take Cat To Vet
Now that you know how important your cat’s regular check-ups are, you’re probably wondering how often they need to take place. Most veterinarians recommend that adult cats go in for a visit twice a year. The reason is that illnesses can develop over short periods of time. Also, because your cat is likely to hide their symptoms, you won’t ever know if they are sick or well. A semi-annual visit gives your veterinarian an opportunity to examine your cat and catch any health conditions before they progress and become expensive, difficult, or impossible to treat.
As cats get older, owners should be especially vigilant about keeping an eye on their cat’s health and taking them for regular check-ups. Some veterinarians recommend that cats over 10 years of age should see the vet for a check-up every three months. This is because older cats are at higher risk for injury and disease.
In addition to their regular exams, you should take your cat to the veterinarian if you ever notice any unusual symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, bathroom problems, frequent vomiting, or behavioral changes.
Veterinary Care For Longevity
While it can vary between indoor and outdoor cats, the average lifespan of a cat is around 13 to 17 years. However, it is not unusual for a cat to live up to 20 years old, and the oldest cat on record, Lucy, lived to be 39! Keeping up with regular veterinary care can certainly be a factor in keeping your cat around longer. So book your appointment today, and help your cat make the most of their nine lives.
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