It’s National Take your Cat to the Vet Week, which ranks right up there with Get Your Annual Prostate Exam Week and Pull Off Your Toenails Week on the fun scale. I know it’s not fun, for you or for the cat. It’s a necessary evil, one of our first lines of defense in catching disease processes early before they are crisis situations. In fact, most vets recommend taking your cat in twice a year, though we know from surveys that less than half of you take your cat in unless he or she is sick.
Do these visits actually accomplish anything? I asked my Facebook friends if they had ever taken their cat in for routine care and discovered an unexpected medical issue, and here’s what you said:
“My 10yr old kitty had some issues eating. I took her to the vet expecting to find out she had a dental issue. Unfortunately we found out she had a rather severe SSC tumor under her tongue. They got my permission and installed a feeding tube (E-tube). They estimated she would live for 2-4weeks. Amazing kitty that Maisy was, she lived, active and happy, for 4 1/2 months before we had to make “the decision”. With her diagnosis, E-tube, and well prescribed nutrition and pain management, she was able to do very well for much longer than expected. The best thing was that she was fairly well when my husband returned from his deployment. He got to spend two weeks with his girl.”
“We took my cat in for her check up and discovered early diabetes. it was pretty cool really. I think it saved her life.”
“A number of years ago, I took my cat Max, to the vet for his annual checkup and shots. Didn’t expect there to be any problems because he seemed normal. When the vet stated he looked pale, I wondered how a black & white cat could be pale. But, of course she was talking about his gums. I learned he had CRF and not long to live. I was shocked but thankful to have caught it and got him on Sub-Q LRS right away. I got to enjoy another 9 months with the most amazing cat ever.”
And a tip from Karen:
“My new kitty had to see the vet for a URI. He had been chipped at county animal and our regular vet said the chip wasn’t very deep and could slip around. He said that every time I go in ask the vet to scan him to make sure it is still reading the number where someone would expect it to be found. This may already be SOP for most offices — seems like a good idea to ask for a quick check of your pets’ chip at each visit.”
Despite these benefits, yes, it can be hard and stressful to get your cat in, and we vet types recognize that. Petfinder has a fabulous series of articles discussing the various ways you can maximize your vet trip efficiency. Last year I came up with my personal top tips for a good vet visit. Just to keep things hopping, here are my updated 2011 tips for getting the most out of the vet trip.
1. Have a cat and vet friendly carrier.
If you’ve ever had to shake a cat out of a rigid carrier or pry the stripped, rusted screws off some 1970’s metal crate because the whirling dervish of claws inside isn’t coming out otherwise, you will appreciate the value of a carrier whose top easily zips off. The Sleepypod cat carrier is by far my favorite kitty carrier ever. For simple exams I can unzip the top, do the exam, maybe give an injection, and zip kitty right back in without even needing to take them out. Going to the vet is stressful enough; might as well minimize stress wherever possible.
2. Have distractions.
A towel in the carrier. A little bag of catnip. A favorite toy. The finest culinary treats. None of these will change the fact that your cat is nervous, but little distractions can make a big difference in setting the stage for a successful visit.
3. Ask if you can call the vet later to talk about the visit.
I think this is particularly underutilized in our profession. If your cat just got diagnosed with diabetes, he’s yowling because he just had blood and urine drawn and you’re stressed out because you are faced with this major diagnosis, how composed are either of you really going to be during the discussion of what the next step should be? Tell the vet you need to take your kitty home, digest what you’ve been told, and ask to arrange a phone call later in the day when you can really talk about what all of this means.
Got a hot tip I missed? Share them below!
This post was originally published August 25, 2011.