Why Even Indoor Cats MUST Go to the Vet

Experts agree the best place for kitty is indoors where potentially hazardous encounters with traffic, wildlife and other roaming domestic animals are minimized. But there is one occasion when Mittens should head outside – to the vet, within the comfy confines of his carrier.

You may think indoor cats are exempt from veterinary visits but nothing could be further from the truth. Like you, your cat has complex biology and faces a host of potential health issues over the course of its life, many successfully managed with early diagnosis and ongoing treatment.

Vet care is especially vital in the case of cats adopted from shelters or through Annex Cat Rescue where medical histories are usually best guesses, not matters of record.

Veterinary Surgeon

“All indoors cats should have the benefit of a veterinary exam,” confirms Dr. Joanna Coote, a vet with Beaches Animal Hospital who also serves with the Toronto Humane Society’s spay/neuter clinic and Toronto Street Cats’ TNR clinics.

She continues: “How is the cat’s weight – too heavy or too thin? What is the dental picture and is there dental disease? Blood work allows us to see what the kidneys, liver and thyroid are doing. These are very compelling arguments for vet care.

“Sometimes owners are having behavioral concerns or maybe they’ve noticed a lump on the cat, which happens. Like dogs, cats can develop arthritis as they age. Also cancer. But we can manage many of these things, making their geriatric years much better. With younger cats, vet visits are about maintaining health; making sure their teeth look good and they’re not getting too fat,” which, like their human counterparts, puts cats at risk of developing diabetes.

According to a fact sheet produced by the Cat Clinic in Hamilton, the cat is Canada’s most popular pet, numbering some 8.5 million. Yet, as the Clinic points out, “In spite of being such cherished members of the household, the average cat does not receive the same healthcare treatment as most dogs. On average, only one out of every two cats benefit from an annual visit to the veterinarian.

“Every year a cat does not see a veterinarian is like a person going seven years without seeing a doctor. Three years without a wellness check is comparable to people going more than 20 years without seeing a doctor.”

Pretty much any argument a cat owner can mount for not taking Mittens to the vet – too expensive, cat doesn’t seem sick, he hates the carrier, vaccination is unnecessary for an indoor cat – can be quashed in short order:

Too expensive? Early diagnosis can detect serious problems in the early stages before costs really spiral.

Cat seems OK? Cats instinctively mask pain to prevent appearing vulnerable. And sometimes even obvious signs of ill-health such as excessive urination or diminished appetite can be missed by harried owners.

Cat hates the carrier? Most do, but here are simple tips for making the trip to the vet less stressful.

Cat Carrier

Vaccination is unnecessary for indoor cats? Not according to Dr. Coote.

“The FVRCP vaccines – usually given as a series of vaccines in kittens and then once a year or every three years after that – protects against many upper respiratory pathogens. In times of stress – moving to a new house, let’s say, or having new people or animals coming into the home –the animal’s immune system is suppressed and they can get a flare-up of this upper respiratory infection.

“All cats have been exposed to other cats at some point in their life – their littermates and mothers – and over 95 percent of cats will either be exposed to or carry to herpes virus. Similar to humans who get a cold sore when they are stressed, the herpes virus seizes moments of stress to flare up in the cat, causing nasal discharge, sneezing, watering eyes. Those can be prevented with an FVRCP vaccine.”

And though he’ll hate you for it in the moment, Mittens will love you for it in the long run. Now get dialling.

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