Why does my cat need regular trips to the vet?

Dr. Mavis McCormick-Rantze graduated in 2003 from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. She also has undergraduate degrees in Animal Science and Zoology from the University of Georgia.

Besides small animals, Dr McCormick-Rantze has a strong interest in avian and exotic animals. She lives in Cumming with her husband and their two children, five cats, and two saltwater fish tanks.  Dr. McCormick is the owner of Lanier Animal Hospital, 5700 Cumming Highway, Building B, Sugar Hill, GA  30518.

I truly have a great love for cats --  I have 5 of them at home and 2 at my clinic (and that number is down for me). Don’t get me wrong I love dogs too but I have grown up with cats since the day I was born and didn't’t get my first dog until I was near 10. So I think for that reason, cats hold a special place in my heart.  I think for people it is a lot easier to take care of cats (and also to collect them). are For the most part, cats are very self-sufficient, they can groom themselves, entertain themselves and you don’t have to rush home from work or your favorite activity to walk the cat.

Because cats are so awesome and such great pets, I want to be their advocate this month and share with you why it is so important for them to see the veterinarian at least once or twice a year!!  Cats are the number one pet in the United States, yet cat visits to the veterinarian number less than half of dog visits annually.  This seems crazy to me.  I don’t think that people love their cats less than their dogs, but I think that people don’t understand that cats can have medical issues that they can hide very well.  Also, people take their dogs to public places more often, so they realize that the dogs must be vaccinated, which requires going to a veterinarian. When my clients come in for a dog visit, I commonly if they have cats, and they often say they have  2 or 3 or 4 cats!!  "Wow" is my answer, since I have usually never seen any of their cats.  I ask the client why they haven’t brought their cats in for an exam and/or vaccines. The client tells me “oh they are healthy; they don’t need to come in”. They will tell me that the kitty is inside only so there is no need to come in because they don’t need shots. Well, at least the poor cat isn’t outside getting attacked by wild animals, getting into cat fights or hit by cars! . But there are also a lot of outside cats that don't get vaccinated.  This is especially dangerous, not just for the cats, but also for humans, since cats are the number one pet to transmit/contract Rabies, not to mention other feline viral diseases that they can get.

Cats have so many diseases that your veterinarian can actually do something about if they are caught early. On a daily basis I diagnose heart disease, kidney disease, dental disease (do you actually know how painful it is to have a rotten tooth in your mouth!!!), and viral diseases in cats. I feel so bad for the kitties because I know their owners were not intentionally letting them suffer in pain, but that is what is happening. Animals cannot speak for themselves to tell you if they are uncomfortable or in pain. Animals are masters at just covering up their pain and discomfort until it is beyond unmanageable.

Both cats and dogs age much faster than humans, so it is important for them to get at least yearly physical exams, and twice a year is better. Veterinarians can catch diseases early and, even better, help you head off diseases before they start by educating you about good care for your cat. Think about it:  you take yourself and your children to the doctor once a year for a physical exam and you only age 1 year at a time.  Cats and dogs age 5-8 years for every one human year. So if you just adopted a cat or kitten from the Georgia SPCA, then please let the next stop be your veterinarian and if you have cats at home that haven’t been to the doc in years- go now, it is never too late to help your kitty!