Aug 26 2014

Why (and how) Your Cat Should Visit the Vet!

Reasons for cats to visit the vet.

The hiding under the bed (perfectly in the center where unreachable), the strategic placement of the cat carrier days before a planned vet visit, the pleading cries of your cat on the drive over, the dilated pupils, your little friend hanging onto the carrier in terror while you try to coax him/her out…..I get it, trust me. No one LOVES to bring the cat to the vet. The following statistics describe this completely!

  • In the United States, there are 86 Million Owned Cats and 78 Million Owned Dogs.
  • Almost twice as many cats than dogs never visit the veterinarian.
  • Of the cats that do visit the veterinarian, they average 26% fewer visits than dogs.
  • 41% of cat owners visit the veterinarian only for vaccinations.
  • 39% of cat owners say they would only take their cat to the veterinarian if the cat was sick.
  • 60% of cat owners report that their cat hates going to the veterinarian.
  • 38% of cat owners report that they get stressed just thinking about bringing their cat to the practice.

See, you are not alone! We want to help decrease some of the stress for you and your cat, as well as catching some important diseases when they can more easily be managed. Cats need to go to the doctor too!! Cats are very unique creatures that hide signs of underlying disease incredibly well until it becomes impossible to mask the symptoms. A few common problems that we can dramatically manage better with early detection are chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes mellitus. We also will share some helpful tips on making your next visit with your kitty less painful and stressful for both of you.

Cats are 3-10 times more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than dogs. The kidneys do much more than just produce urine!

The kidneys’ job is to remove waste from the body and if waste is not removed these animals will become excessively thirsty, nauseous, painful, and have appetite loss. The kidneys also function in conserving water, regulating blood pressure, stimulating red blood cell production and many other important functions. Most of the time, when kidney failure is diagnosed, the cat is very sick and we cannot find the initial cause. Kidney dysfunction is irreversible, but our goal is to catch the early signs and slow the progressive destruction of the kidneys. This can be accomplished with diet, encouraging more water consumption, and various supplements.

Hyperthyroidism is another common disease that has some dangerous side effects if left untreated. It is caused by a non cancerous growth on the thyroid gland which over produces thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormones regulate day to day metabolism. Side effects include hyperactivity, increased appetite, weight loss, muscle wasting, chronic vomiting, and chronic diarrhea. Individual cats may have a few, or many of these clinical signs. Other long term problems that occur are heart disease and high blood pressure. If we can begin early treatment of the thyroid, we can stop some of these dangerous side effects.

The other disease we will discuss is diabetes mellitus. Diabetes is most frequently seen in older, overweight cats, and often more frequently in male cats. The pancreas in these patients has stopped producing insulin (a hormone responsible for regulating blood glucose). When there is not that regulation, the cat starts breaking down fat and protein to use for energy. So your cat will eat more, but loses weight. In addition, the excess sugar in the blood is eliminated in urine, which makes that cat drink and urinate excessively. If these processes go unchecked, a dangerous, sometimes fatal condition called ketoacidosis may develop, indicated by loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, dehydration, and breathing abnormalities. Additionally, diabetes can lead to an unhealthy skin and coat, liver disease, and secondary bacterial infections (often in the urinary tract). Another diabetes-related disorder called diabetic neuropathy may cause cats to become progressively weaker, especially in the hind legs, causing them to walk with their hocks (ankles) touching the ground.

Diabetes is managed with insulin injections and diet. And if it is detected early and treated aggressively some cats may go into remission, where diet alone manages the diabetes.

This trio of diseases are some of the most common day to day things that we see and treat in our clinic. Early detection is incredibly beneficial to the successful management and spending more happy, healthy years with your companion!!! So, now the really hard part… do we get your furry, feline friend to the vet?

First, getting your cat into a carrier

When purchasing a new carrier

  • Make sure it is convenient for the cat, you and your veterinarian
  • Don’t just pull the carrier out on vet visit days, leave it out with toys, treats and food inside it so it doesn’t have to be a scary place

There are so many to choose from, what is best?? Carriers with top and side openings seem to be easiest

  • Top-loading carriers make it easier to put your cat in and less stressfully get out. Your cat can also go in and out the side
  • Other carriers that the top half comes off work well too. The top can be removed and your kitty can be examined sitting in the bottom part

Getting your cat out of the carrier can be less painful

  • Try not to dump the cat from the carrier!
  • Try and see if he/she will walk out, or remove gently from the top or side opening

Next, the car ride

  • Always keep your cat contained during travel. It is safer for both you and your cat
  • Try taking your cat other places than just the vet, so it is not the only association with travel
  • Start small, then increase the length of rides
  • Don’t feed, or pick up food several hours prior to travel. Pets travel a bit better on an empty stomach
  • After a good trip, praise and reward your pet!

Now, the actual veterinary appointment

  • Try bringing some favorite treats and toys. This will help them feel a bit more at home
  • Catnip also can help calm your cat down
  • Try doing some at home nail trims, teeth brushing, and brushing with your cat. This is especially important with kittens to get them off to a good start
  • You can replicate some veterinary procedures with your cat
  • You can do this by touching the cat’s face, ears, feet and tail
  • This will help for vet visits and for you to do home care
  • You are always welcome to do weight visits, just plain trips for treats to the animal hospital so the experience is not always perceived as negative

Several excellent resources on feline health care and issues are,, and

We look forward to seeing you and you feline friends soon! Please call with any questions! 702.384.8737

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