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Cats are the most popular pets, but you sure wouldn’t know it by looking around the veterinarian’s waiting room. Americans share their homes with 84 million cats and 72 million dogs, according to the American Pet Products Association. At the nation’s veterinary hospitals, though, dogs take most of the appointment slots and get most of the wellness care. A recent Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study revealed a third of pet cats did not see a veterinarian in the preceding year at all.
The biggest reason cats are shortchanged when it comes to their health is that people don’t like catching them, putting them in carriers, and dealing with the difficult behavior of fearful cats. So what can be done?
The lack of preventive care for cats means making these pets happier has become a high priority for many veterinarians. Veterinary behaviorists have been helping veterinarians design facilities and protocols to make cat visits less stressful for all, including dogs, pet owners, and hospital staff. You’ll see a lot of changes in the years to come, as veterinary clinics and hospitals begin to handle feline patients with greater knowledge of feline behavior.
The use of pheromones is one such change. When I’m practicing, I wear so much of the synthetic cat pheromone called Feliway (a version of feline facial pheromones, which relax cats) that it’s more like aftershave to me.
As veterinarians work to make their practices fear free and feline friendly, there’s a lot you can do to help your cat relax when it’s time to see the doctor. The American Academy of Feline Practitioners offers new guidelines. Here are the main points.
If you have more than one cat, prevent post visit aggression by leaving the cat who’s been to the veterinarian in his carrier when you get home. Watch for problems. If all seems well, open the door to the carrier but don’t force your cat out and don’t force the cats to interact. Let time — and more Feliway — ease the stress of reintroduction.
This article was written by a Veterinarian.
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