Advanced Veterinary Medical Center wants to see more cats, more often!
( Farmington Hills , MI ) ( 5/14/2013 ) — There are 82 million pet cats in the U.S. , compared with 72 million dogs. Cats are the most popular house pet. Yet studies show cats visit the veterinarian less frequently than dogs .
This may be related to some common myths about cat health, such as:
The truth is, cats need regular veterinary care, including annual exams and vaccinations, just like dogs do. And because they are naturally adept at hiding signs of illness, annual exams are especially important for early diagnosis of health problems.
That’s why Advanced Veterinary Medical Center is participating in the “Have we seen your cat lately? ™” national awareness campaign and taking steps to raise awareness about the importance of regular veterinary care for cats.
You don’t have to be a veterinarian to know that cats are very different than dogs. But the reality is that most veterinary practices, when looked at from a pet’s perspective, are designed with dogs in mind. This makes sense when considering that most practices see so many more dogs than cats. But if our goal is to have more cats get the care they deserve, we need to start thinking about our practice from a cat’s perspective. This is where the Cat Friendly Practice Criteria come in- In order to apply for the program, a practice must meet several criteria in each of ten different areas:
- Staff Training & Continuing Education / Client Communications
- Veterinary Practice / Waiting Room
- Feline Handling & Interaction with Clients
- Examination Room & Clinical Records
- Wards Facilities
- Pain Management / Operating Room & Anesthesia
- Surgical Equipment & Dentistry
- Diagnostic Imaging & Laboratory Facilities
- Treatment / Health & Safety
- and Preventative Care by Life Stages.
Advanced Veterinary Medical Center encourages all cat owners to call their veterinarians this week to schedule wellness exams for their cats.
The nationwide “Have we seen your cat lately?” awareness program is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.
Is My Cat Sick?
Change in Litter Box Behavior
Inappropriate urination and defecation often accompany an underlying medical condition and do not occur “to get back at you.” A cat that is urinating inappropriately may have any number of conditions associated with the behavior, including lower urinary tract disease, kidney disease, urinary tract infection and diabetes. It can also be a sign of arthritis, which makes it difficult for the cat to get into the litter box.
Note: Blockage of the urinary tract signals a veterinary emergency. A blockage is treatable, but timing is critical. Once identified, the cat must receive veterinary care as soon as possible. Otherwise, fatal complications could develop. Signs include straining in the litter box with little or no results, crying when urinating and frequent attempts to urinate.
Changes in Social Interaction
Cats are social animals; they enjoy interaction with their human family and often with other pets. Changes in those may signal problems such as disease, fear or anxiety. They may also signal pain, which can cause aggression. For example, a cat may attack an individual who causes it pain, such as a person combing over a cat’s arthritic hips or brushing a diseased tooth.
Changes in Activity
A decrease or increase in activity can be a sign of a medical of condition. As cats age, there is increased risk for arthritis. Discomfort from systemic illnesses can also lead to a decrease in activity. It’s important to understand cats don’t usually slow down just because they are old. More activity is often caused by hyperthyroidism. Changes in activity warrant a visit to your veterinarian.
Changes in Sleep
The key to differentiating abnormal lethargy from normal napping is knowing your cat’s sleeping patterns. The average adult cat may spend 16 to 18 hours per day sleeping. This is normal, but much of that sleeping is “catnapping.” The cat should respond quickly to usual stimuli, such as the owner walking into the room or cat food being prepared. If your cat is sleeping more than usual or has discomfort laying down and getting up, this may be a sign of underlying disease.
Change in Appetite or Water Intake
Contrary to popular belief, most cats are not “finicky” eaters! Look for changes, such as a decrease or an increase in consumption and how the cat chews its food. Decreased food intake can be a sign of several disorders, ranging from poor dental health to cancer. Increased food consumption can be caused by diabetes, hyperthyroidism or other health problems.
Changes in water consumption may be more difficult to observe, especially in cats that spend time outdoors or drink from toilets and sinks. Increased water intake can be an early indicator of thyroid problems, kidney disease, diabetes or other conditions.
If food and water intake is questionable, you can measure the food and water given, and then measure what remains after 24 hours to get a more accurate picture of actual consumption.
Unintentional Weight Loss or Gain
A change in weight does not necessarily correlate with a change in appetite. Cats with hyperthyroidism or diabetes can lose weight despite good appetites. Many other diseases cause both appetite and weight loss. If your cat goes to the food dish and then backs away from it without eating, nausea may be the source.
Weight changes often go unnoticed because of a cat’s thick coat. You can assess body condition by feeling gently along the ribs. The ribs should be easily felt but not prominent.
On the other hand, obesity has become a serious health concern in cats, with increased risk of diabetes, joint disease and other problems. Cat owners can purchase small pet scales or human infant scales to chart weight at home. Take your cat to the veterinarian if there are any unplanned changes in weight.
Change in Grooming
Typically, cats are fastidious groomers. Note whether your cat’s coat is clean and free of mats. Patches of hair loss or a greasy or matted appearance can signal an underlying disease. Also watch to see if your cat has difficulty grooming. A decrease in grooming behavior can indicate fear, anxiety, obesity or other illnesses. An increase in grooming may be a sign of a skin problem.
Signs of Stress
Yes, your cat can be stressed despite having an “easy” life! Boredom and sudden lifestyle changes are common causes of stress in cats. Stressed cats may spend less time grooming and interacting, or they may spend more time awake and scanning their environment, hide more, withdraw and exhibit signs of depression. They could also change their eating patterns. These same signs may indicate a medical condition. It is important to rule out medical problems first and then address the stress. Because the social organization of cats is different from that of people and dogs, changes in the family, such as adding a new pet, should be done gradually. Please contact your veterinary hospital for information on how to successfully make changes in your household.
Changes in Vocalization
An increase in vocalization or howling is more common in older cats and is often seen with some underlying condition such as hyperthyroidism or high blood pressure. Many cats also vocalize more if they are in pain or anxious. If you note a change in vocalization, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out medical problems and to obtain suggestions for minimizing or eliminating the behavior.
Studies show 70 percent of cats have oral disease as early as age 3. It is important to have your cat’s teeth checked every six months to help prevent dental disease or to start treatment of problems. One of the early indicators of an oral problem is bad breath. Regular home teeth brushing and veterinary dental care prevent bad breath, pain, tooth loss and spread of infection to other organs.