Cats Deserve Better, Cat Friendlier Attitudes in 2015


I resolve to work with the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) to lead a revolution to support cats in 2015.

Here’s why: By all accounts, you’d think Americans have a love affair with cats. In fact, cats — rather than dogs — are man’s best friends. According to the 2012 American Veterinary Medical Association U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, cats outnumber dogs, with just over 74 million pet cats, compared to about 70 million dogs.

However, the truth about cats is unfortunate, even appalling. Cats are the Rodney Dangerfields of the pet world: They get no respect.

For starters, many cats don’t receive adequate veterinary care. Most never see a veterinarian for annual checkups. About 80 percent of cat owners think their pets are so self-sufficient that regular exams are unnecessary (according to Bayer Health Care Feline Findings, 2013). About 60 percent of all veterinary clients are dogs, though by the numbers most patients should be cats.

As a result, many cats are suffering from illnesses which in many cases could have been prevented.

The problem doesn’t end there. Cats are more often given up at shelters than dogs — and far more cats are euthanized in shelters than dogs. Also, among lost or stolen animals entering shelters, 15 to 30 percent of dogs are reclaimed by their owners, while only a meager five percent of cats are reclaimed (according to the Humane Society of the United States). In part, this is because people tend not to microchip or use ID tags for cats as often as for dogs. And, sadly, too many people who lose a cat don’t even bother searching for their pet.

In conjunction with AAFP, I resolve to support education to enhance the quality of life for all cats. Certainly, millions of people love their felines, and I believe their hearts are in the right place.

Here are our 2015 resolutions for cats (from AAFP and myself). Follow them and I guarantee your cats will be better off:

1. Routine checkups: All cats should get a preventive care checkup at least once a year, and more frequently for senior cats and those with chronic conditions. During the exam, veterinarians assess current health and may detect conditions early. This can prevent suffering and even be life-saving, as well as being easier on cat owners’ wallets. Read more at: HERE.

2. Don’t rely on “Dr. Google”: The Internet doesn’t have a stethoscope and can’t do blood work on your cat. Also, there’s lots of misinformation posted online. Anytime there’s a change in your cat’s behavior, this could signal a medical problem, so see your veterinarian, not a website!

3. Weight checks: About 60 percent of indoor cats are overweight or obese, which can impact quality of life or even lifespan. A few extra pounds can be difficult for owners to detect, yet have significant health effects. Read more: HERE.

4. Kitty playgrounds: Addressing a cat’s physical, emotional and environmental needs enhances the pet’s health and quality of life. Offer outlets for natural behaviors. Read more about the five pillars of a healthy feline environment:HERE.

5. Get the scoop: Litter box habits offer a peek into your cat’s psyche. If a cat is missing the box or there’s any a change in the pet’s litter box habits, these may signal a medical issue and/or anxiety, so see your vet. Read more: HERE.

6. Cats aren’t finicky: While some cats are fastidious about food, there may be a medical explanation for any new erratic eating behaviors (unless the cat has always been this way). The pet could have a gastrointestinal problem, diabetes, a dental issue, or any number of other problems. Don’t wait to contact your veterinarian. And never allow a cat to go more than 24-hours without eating, as a fatal liver disease can occur.

7. Brush up: Periodontal disease is the most common disease in cats over 3-years old. If a cat’s breath isn’t fresh as a daisy, the pet may be silently suffering from painful teeth or gums, or another medical issue. Read more: HERE.

8. To sleep or not to sleep: Vocalizing overnight, or changes in your cat’s sleep/wake cycle may be signs of illness. In older cats, this can also indicate feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome (“kitty Alzheimer’s”). The sooner your veterinarian can diagnose the problem, the better.

9. Give your cat the best: It’s worth sniffing out a Cat Friendly Practice. These veterinary clinics have made a commitment to pay more attention to their feline clients. Read more: HERE.

10. Reduce stressful vet visits: Nearly 60 percent of owners say their cats hate visiting the veterinarian. That stress starts at home, and the good news is, you can even acclimate adult cats to carriers. Read more at: HERE.

There’s lots more info at the AAFP website, or Facebook page:

©Steve Dale PetWorld, LLC; Tribune Content Agency