Taking your cat to the vet can be a drag. First, you have to find and catch her. Then you have to shove her into a carrier, risking life and limb. Finally, you have to drive her to the vet, listening to her squall the entire trip. It seems that the getting there takes more time and energy than the visit itself! So, is it worth bringing your cat in each year even when she seems healthy? YES!!
Cats, even those who live exclusively indoors, benefit from the protection of vaccines. Rabies is a disease that is invariably fatal to humans, cats and other mammals. If your cat slips out the door or a bat enters your house, it is possible for him to become infected. To protect human life, Virginia state law requires that all cats (and dogs) over the age of 16 weeks be vaccinated against rabies. Indoor cats can also be exposed to other viral diseases, such as panleukopenia, calicivirus or feline herpesvirus. Whether it is from a new cat entering the household or carried in on your shoes from outside, indoor cats are at risk of contracting these diseases if they are unvaccinated.
Cats are notorious for hiding their illnesses. It can be really difficult to know if they are sick until they are very ill. Not to mention that most cats do not allow owners to even peek in their mouths. A yearly exam allows the doctor to look for dental disease before it becomes very painful, monitor weight so gains and losses don’t go unnoticed, and ask important questions about your cat’s habits that might indicate subtle illness.
The best way to ease the stress of getting to the vet is to practice! Help your cat get used to the carrier by associating it with something pleasant, like food or treats. Start feeding her right outside the carrier until she is comfortable there, then move the food into the carrier. Feeding her in the carrier frequently will help make it less scary. Practice taking short car trips or even just sitting in the car while it’s running, all while feeding treats or a small meal to keep the experience positive. Gradually build up to longer car rides until she is relaxed in the car. If you start this process when your cat is a kitten, trips to the vet will always be stress free.
Don’t let the stress of taking your cat to the vet prevent you from doing what is best for them. Yearly exams, even when your cat is young, are a great way to keep up with your cat’s health. Call your vet to discuss other techniques to reduce anxiety when coming in to the hospital.