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May 1, 2017
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Are cats low maintenance pets?

Cats are often seen as the low maintenance pet. I will say, in some cases this is true. They can require very little from humans. Just the basics: food, water, shelter. This can lead to little or no development of a human/animal bond. However, although cats require very little does not mean that they do not yearn for more of our attention. You will find, if you give more than “maintenance” or above the basics, you will get more than a furry face around the house. You will be gifted with a companion who provides love and hours of entertainment.

When you have this companion, of course, it is important to keep them healthy and visit the veterinarian routinely.

Preventative Care

Preventative care starts at kitten-hood with having the proper testing, vaccinations, and nutrition from a young age to help ensure health. Due to being seen as a low maintenance pet, preventative care is often over looked in our feline companions. Cats should have an exam at least once a year, just like our canine companions. At these exams the veterinarian is looking for potential problems, and updated vaccinations.

Dental disease is a common disease found in young to middle age cats. This disease is almost entirely preventable. Teeth brushing, oral chews, mouth rinses/sprays and water additives are some of the techniques that can be used in order to prevent dental disease. If you are using an oral chew for your cat keep in mind that the chew needs to be large enough that you vat has to chew on it. The vast majority of dental chews/treats are too small, as they are rarely much larger than any kibble size.

Top 3 Diseases in Aging Cats

Although cats may seem like a low maintenance pet, they can get many diseases. The top three diseases seen primarily in aging cats are Kidney Disease, Diabetes, and Hyperthyroidism. These are insidious diseases. They take some time to manifest themselves. All three have similar clinical signs particularly when first coming on. These can include change in eating habits (increased or decreased), drinking more and urinating more, and weight loss. If you notice any change in your cat, it is important to visit a veterinarian. When diagnosed early these diseases can respond well to management.

Fear Free Veterinary Visits

We know it can be anxious and stressful for both the owners and the cats when they have to go see a veterinarian. When the stress of a veterinary visit is reduced, our feline companions can receive better health care. Here are some tips to help reduce the stress of your next veterinary visit:

Before the visit
Prior to the visit there may need to be a phone consultation about how much anxiety your cat has. Some cats and their owners have so much anxiety about the experience that it really starts at home. Making the carrier part of your cats life from the beginning it always helpful. Make it a comfy sleeping place or where they eat their meals.

In cats that already dislike their carrier, this technique can be difficult or not as fruitful. Use pheromones like Feliway to spray in the carrier and on blankets to calm your cat. In other scenarios it maybe necessary to give a sedative or an anxiolytic medication prior to appointments. Practicing for trips is also helpful not only for trips to the veterinarian, but in case there is an emergency.

Traveling to the visit

  • Choose the correct carrier.
    It should be a carrier that can be taken apart easily, but when put back together it is stable. The carrier should not be overly large. It should be easy to carry and have just enough room to lay down comfortably. Remember this carrier is for travel and not a living space.
  • Use a pheromone spray, such as Feliway, to help with travel.
  • Keep stimulus to a minimum. Do not play music in the car or keep it turned down. Cover the carrier to prevent visual stimuli.

During visit
Cover the carrier in the hospital lobby and try to keep in a quiet place. If the hospital is very noisy, staying in the vehicle with climate control until the appointment time or waiting in an examination room maybe helpful.

Here at Prescott Animal Hospital, we take extra steps to ensure your visit is as fear-free as possible. Some of our team members have completed specialized training to become a Certified Fear Free Professional. Learn more about Fear Free veterinary visits >>

Raenell Killian, DVM
Prescott Animal Hospital