Friday, March 23, 2012

Why I Recommend Twice-a-Year Vet Visits for Kitties

By Dr. Becker

Why I Recommend Twice-a-Year Vet Visits for Kitties
I encourage semi-annual vet checkups for cats for a number of reasons, including:
  • Your kitty's health can change quickly, and especially if your pet is older. I frequently see senior cats with normal kidney enzymes in January who have elevated kidney enzymes 6 months later. The earlier I detect a problem, the more successful I am at slowing, stalling or reversing a disease process.
  • If your cat has a health problem brewing, the earlier it is found and treated, the better the chance for a full recovery. Because I take a proactive approach to your pet's well being, I'm able to address a developing issue before it turns into full-blown disease. But I can't do that unless I see your kitty regularly.
  • Unfortunately, many cats these days are overweight or obese. I have found getting a too-heavy cat back in shape is more successful when the owner and I work together toward a weight loss goal. And since good nutrition is the foundation of good health, even for kitties at optimum weight I find it extremely beneficial to regularly review diets and nutritional supplements and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Many indoor cats never get out of the house except for trips to the vet. More frequent trips can sometimes reduce the amount of stress your kitty feels at each visit.
  • In addition to regular professional checkups, I also recommend you perform routine at-home wellness exams on your cat. This will help you learn what's normal for your pet, and therefore, what's not normal.

How You Can Ease Your Cat's Vet Visit Phobia

Suggestions offered in the “AAFP/ISFM Feline-Friendly Handling Guidelines”ii include:
  • Perform 'rehearsal visits' to the veterinary clinic to help get kitty accustomed to trips in the car and the clinic environment. This includes loading your cat into her carrier and traveling around the block in the car.
  • Do mock vet exams at home to familiarize your cat with human handling. Do things like handle your pet's paws, inspect her ears, clip her nails, open and inspect the inside of her mouth, move your hands over her legs and body, and comb or brush her coat. If you do this regularly your cat will be less stressed when faced with the real thing at the vet's office.
  • Get your cat used to his carrier. If the only time your cat sees the carrier is for vet visits you can't blame him for panicking. Put your cat in his carrier with a few treats for 5 minutes a day for a week prior to the visit. Even consider feeding your cat in the crate, leaving the door open to encourage exploration on his own.
  • Leave the carrier out for a week prior to the vet visit so your cat can inspect it.
  • The morning of the appointment find him well in advance of the time of your vet appointment and encourage him to enter the carrier on his own. Put an item with a familiar scent in the carrier, like his bedding or a toy he's fond of.
    Consider administering homeopathy and Bach Flower Essences prior to the visit. There are several remedies including Bach Rescue Remedyiii and homeopathic Aconitum that can reduce anxiety and fear.
  • Stay cool. Keep in mind your kitty can sense your anxiety and stress, so remain calm. Stay positive and proceed at your cat's pace. Be aware of his response to what's happening, and use treats and other rewards to encourage desired behavior.

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