For most cat owners, taking your feline friend to the vet is no fun. While many of our dog patients love coming to the office for treats and attention and snuggles, cats are usually unhappy to be traveling in the car, in a box, to be handled by a stranger in a place that smells like dogs. If you’ve been putting off a visit with your cat because it’s too stressful for you both, you’re certainly not alone.
Pets age much faster than people do, so it’s important to have health exams done regularly, to prevent disease and to diagnose disease and treat it before it progresses. Read on for four reasons to take your cat to the vet and for our preferred method for handling unhappy kitties.
For Vaccinations: Even indoor cats need vaccines! The rabies vaccine is required by law for all pets, even those who never go outdoors. The feline distemper vaccine is also recommended for indoor cats, to protect them against common viruses that strike cats. After the kitten series, both of these vaccines are administered every three years. The feline leukemia vaccine is optional for indoor cats, but you may want to consider this series if you have a multicat household, if you foster or feed stray cats, or if you intend to adopt more cats in the future.
For Dental Care: All pets need dental care. The gold standard is tooth brushing with pet toothpaste, every day, but almost no one can commit to this and almost all cats will resist tooth brushing anyway. The easiest way to prevent serious oral disease in your cat is with regular dental exams and cleanings when indicated.
For Bloodwork: All pets should have baseline bloodwork done as young patients and then at least every 12 months after that. Cats can develop kidney and thyroid conditions as they age that remain largely silent until organ damage is advanced and visible symptoms are apparent. Early intervention, including medication or diet change, can drastically slow the progression of disease and, in some cases, even reverse it.
For Parasite Prevention And Exams: Even indoor cats can pick up intestinal parasites or external parasites like fleas. Does your cat share a water bowl with a dog? Does your cat venture outside to sit on a porch or deck or for supervised time in a garden? Even if your cat does not wander, short excursions outdoors increase the risk for parasites.
Now that you’ve read the reasons your cat needs to come to the vet, what’s the best way to handle cats that are fearful or aggressive, making those visits stressful for all involved?
Gentle sedation works best to make the visit more favorable all around. BSAH offers gabapentin, which is a human drug used to control seizures and treat nerve pain, but which has an amazing sedative effect in cats. Available in either a liquid form or a capsule form, this drug is given orally and lasts several hours. Your cat will be relaxed and zen, but still awake enough to be steady on his feet.
Have you downloaded our app yet? Our FREE practice app, available in the App Store and on Google Play, gives you instant access to your cat’s reminders, as well as the ability to message us, request appointments or medication refills, order food, send cute pet photos and more!