We all know how much Americans love their cats. In fact, approximately one third of households across the United States own at least one cat. Sadly, even with so many loving homes, many of these cats aren’t receiving the medical attention they need. Research from Royal Canin found that 53 percent of cat owners who haven’t taken their cat to the vet in the last 12 months said they just “didn’t think it was necessary.”
In order to improve the healthcare of cats in the United States, Royal Canin, a global leader in pet health nutrition is once again leading the charge for this year’s Take Your Cat to the Vet Day on August 22, 2018.
“Cats are incredible animals. They teach us so many lessons about life, including how to care for something other than ourselves,” explained Ian Somerhalder, actor and owner of two cats and various other foster animals. “They rely on us. And we need to make their health a priority. That’s why I’m really passionate about Royal Canin’s Take Your Cat to the Vet Day initiative and hope more cat owners will schedule regular vet appointments for their cats.
Also joining Somerhalder and Royal Canin to help raise awareness about the importance of preventive veterinary care are The American Association of Feline Practitioners, The International Cat Association, CATalyst Council and The Cat Fanciers’ Association.
“Our company’s mission is to make the world a better place for cats and dogs alike,” said Kamie Eckert, president of Royal Canin USA. “Through this campaign, we aim to inspire cat lovers everywhere to make feline health a priority and schedule regular visits to the veterinarian to ensure their cats live their happiest, healthiest lives.”
Cat owners avoid scheduling veterinary visits for many reasons, whether it be difficulty getting their cat to the vet or the belief that indoor cats aren’t as susceptible to illness or disease. Cats are also known to disguise their discomfort, which can allow health-related problems to go undetected by their owners.
According to Royal Canin research, 21 percent of cat owners said they take their cat to the vet only after it’s already showing signs of illness. However, veterinary visits should not be limited to when your cat is in pain or battling an illness. In addition to vaccinations and routine checkups, it is critical to take cats to the vet regularly so that any health issues may be identified before they become more serious.
What’s more, cat owners avoid veterinary visits at double the rate as dog owners. Only one in four dog-only owners (26 percent) said they didn’t think it was necessary to take their dog to the vet in the past year—compared to over half of cat-only owners (53 percent), who said it wasn’t necessary to take their cat.
“Regular feline veterinary care is crucial for the health and happiness of your cat,” said Dr. Catherine Lenox, Royal Canin Scientific Affairs Manager and board-certified veterinary nutritionist. “Just like dogs, cats need to see the veterinarian on a regular basis for wellness exams, not only when there’s a serious medical need. Cat owners should identify a time throughout the year that can serve as a regular reminder for this important check-up – such as back to school or when they schedule their own annual medical appointment.”
Royal Canin’s research revealed many other noteworthy findings when comparing veterinary visits between dog and cat owners:
- While 85 percent of cat owners tout that their pet is up-to-date on vaccinations, this number among dog owners spikes to an impressive 94 percent.
- Dog owners are more likely to recall reminders from their veterinarian for annual appointments. Eighty-nine percent of dog-only households receive reminders from a vet regarding annual checkups, compared to 73 percent of cat-only households.
- When it comes to barriers to visiting the vet, the travel weighs much more on cat households, with 16 percent citing simply getting in and out of a travel carrier as a preventing factor. Travel only limited vet visits for 5 percent of dog owners who didn’t see a vet in the last year.
Additionally almost half (47 percent) of people who own only cats said they would be more willing to take their cat to the vet’s office were it a less stressful process. While it’s not surprising that many owners find taking their cat to the vet to be a stressful experience, there are many things they can do to help reduce the stress, for the cat and owner alike.
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, there are several things cat owners can do to make visits to the veterinarian more stress-free:
- Understand your cat’s behavior. The veterinarian’s office is unfamiliar and has sights, sounds and smells that can cause your cat to feel anxious or fearful. Cover their carrier with a towel to help block the sight of other animals and dampen the unfamiliar sounds. Respect your cat’s need for time to acclimate to the new environment.
- Help your cat become comfortable with the carrier. Place the carrier in a room at home where your cat spends most of their time and equip it with familiar soft bedding as well as special toys.
- Get the best carrier for your cat. Secure, stable, hard-sided carriers that open from the top and the front, and can also be taken apart in the middle, are best for your cat.
- Take your cat to a Cat Friendly Practice®. These veterinary practices have made specific changes to decrease the stress and provide a more calming environment for you and your cat.
- Keep peace in a multi-cat household. Leave the returning cat in the carrier for a few minutes to see how all of your cats react to unfamiliar smells, and separate if there are signs of tension.