Cats rule the internet and their owners’ hearts. In fact, there are approximately 2.4 million cats in South Africa.
However, even with so many loving homes, many of these cats aren’t receiving the medical attention they need. The reason is quite simple – cats don’t show pain in an easily observable manner, so owners need to be far more vigilant of their cat’s health and wellbeing.
“Cats are far more subtle than dogs in showing discomfort, illness or pain,” explains Dr Michelle Harman, Royal Canin SA veterinarian and technical manager.
“They may retreat to a corner, hide or merely not display much movement if they have joint pain, mobility issues or are simply unwell.”
What’s more, cat owners avoid veterinary visits at double the rate as dog owners.
Only one in four dog-only owners (26%) said they didn’t think it was necessary to take their dog to the vet in the past year compared to 53% of cat-only owners.
“Regular feline veterinary care is crucial for the health and happiness of your cat,” said Harman. “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 for a regular checkup – such as the start of the year or a mid-year checkup.”
There are several things cat owners can do to make visits to the veterinarian less stressful.
The veterinarian’s office is unfamiliar and has sights, sounds and smells that can cause your cat to feel anxious or fearful.
Cover their pet 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
Secure, stable, hard-sided carriers that open from the top and the front, and can also be taken apart in the middle, are best.
Use 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 the peace
Leave the returning cat in the carrier for a few minutes to see how all of your oth cats react to unfamiliar smells, and separate if there are signs of tension.