Woodland Veterinary Hospital Embarks on Crusade to Address the Deficiency of Cats' Medical Care

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Cats significantly lag behind dogs in veterinary medical care, often due to cat owners' misconceptions about feline health. Woodland Veterinary Hospital is kicking off a "Kitty Crusade" in May to educate owners about cats' medical needs to help cats lead longer and healtheir lives.

Cats are much more likely to hide signs of illness when compared to dogs, so a cat that is eating normally and using the litter box normally may still possibly have internal disease.

Woodland Veterinary Hospital is kicking off a “Kitty Crusade” in May. This educational campaign will try to address the shortage of medical care that many cats experience. Informational materials, a coloring contest for children, and a raffle for cat-related prizes will be used to encourage cat owners to keep their cats up to date on medical care.

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that, as of 2007, pet cats outnumber pet dogs in the United States 82 million to 72 million. However, national trends show that dogs are significantly more likely to receive veterinary care than cats. This trend extends locally: last year at Woodland Veterinary Hospital, approximately four dogs were seen for an annual wellness exam for every one cat.

Experts have suggested various reasons to explain this phenomenon. Some cat owners who keep their cats indoors may feel that this prevents disease and thus their cats do not need check-ups or vaccines. Outdoor “neighborhood” cats may not technically be owned by any one person, so people may not feel responsible for bringing it to the veterinarian’s office. Additionally, many people perceive cats as self-sufficient and feel that if their routine habits are not changing then they are likely healthy.

In reality, cats are much more likely to hide signs of illness when compared to dogs, so a cat that is eating normally and using the litter box normally may still possibly have internal disease. Indoor cats are still at risk for a wide variety of diseases, such as obesity, dental disease, arthritis, kidney disease, and diabetes, just to name a few. If these conditions are left untreated, a cat’s lifespan and quality of life may be significantly diminished.

And while indoor cats are exposed to fewer pathogens than outdoor cats, certain vaccines and parasite control measures are recommended for all cats regardless of where they spend their time. For example, mosquitoes can easily get inside of a house and can put an indoor cat at risk of heartworm disease.

Dr. Keith Rode, a veterinarian at Woodland Veterinary Hospital, has seen firsthand how cats slip "through the cracks" and do not receive recommended routine care. "It is not uncommon to see a kitten for its initial set of vaccines, but then not see it again until it is much older and is acting sick," said Dr. Rode. "Had that cat been brought in for regular checkups and care, it is possible that the cat's illness could have been prevented. We hope that our 'Kitty Crusade' will bring this and other important issues to cat owners' minds so that their cats can lead longer and healthier lives."

It is recommended that all cats receive a yearly exam with a veterinarian. This may be increased to twice yearly as the cat ages. During the exam, the veterinarian can thoroughly examine the cat and discuss important topics such as diet, behavior, litter box habits, vaccines, parasite control, and recommended laboratory testing. Routine wellness exams and diagnostic testing can help detect diseases that may not yet be causing any symptoms, which allows for early treatment.

Information on feline health and minimizing the stress of a cat’s veterinary visit is posted at http://www.woodlandvethospital.com/cats.aspx. Updates and further information about the "Kitty Crusade" will be distributed via Facebook and Twitter by searching for Woodland Veterinary Hospital. Cat owners with questions or concerns can call (530) 666-2461.

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Keith Rode, DVM
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