National Cat Day: Celebrate with a Regular Veterinary Exam


Steve Dale on National Cat Day

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Steve Dale on National Cat Day

Roxy is ready for her close-up

Felines first! Today (October 29) is National Cat Day! Of course, according to our 16-year old cat, Roxy – everyday is National Cat Day.

Roxy no longer bounds across the house at full speed or herds our dogs; instead she’s settled nicely in retirement. If she so desires, she snuggles with us at night. If she so desires, she will still play. If she so desires, she sleeps – and she does a lot of that.  As it’s always been, all decisions are based on her desires.

Steve Dale on National Cat Day

Roxy with her veterinarian, Dr. Natalie Marks

The good news for us and for Roxy – who these days requires semi-regular veterinary care – is that she is content about going into her carrier, and even allows our veterinarian to handle her as she needs to. Roxy never complains, in part, because our veterinarian rewards her with what might be the equivalent to winning the feline lottery, it’s called tuna. After all, we visit a Cat Friendly Veterinary Practice.

Steve Dale on National Cat Day

Was just National Black Cat day too!

The bad news is that cats remain under-medicalized in America. Most cats over a year old don’t see a veterinarian for wellness exams or check ups, and the cats lose out as a result. Cats rarely raise a paw to say “I’m not feeling well.” Cats are like magicians regarding their ability to mask illness. And no matter, I don’t know of any cat caretaker that can do blood work or X-rays in their kitchens.

Just as in people, kidney disease may be lurking or high blood pressure, potentially silent killers. By the time most cats develop signs of kidney disease around 75 percent of kidney function is already lost, which is why the SDMA test means so much to detect disease earlier.  IDEXX symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA), measures biomarkers that indicate how the kidneys—in both canines and felines—are functioning. The SDMA test is more sensitive and allows veterinarians to make a far earlier diagnosis if kidney function is declining.

The good news is that the millennials, the same folks posting images of cats in Instagram and visiting cat cafe’s, are going for regular veterinary check-ups. And honoring cats as what they are – the most popular pet in America.

Honoring Ricky on National Cat Day

Ricky at the keyboard

Ricky was a cat who changed my life. And via a regular veterinary exam, we extended his. Ricky, my piano playing cat, turned out to have heart disease. There were so signs. My veterinarian detected the possibility hearing a concerning murmur, and then off we went to a veterinary cardiologist who ultimately diagnosed feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. At least we were able to treat Ricky earlier – though he still succumbed at a very young age. Ricky certainly celebrated National Cat Day ever day. The life he lived was amazing, as he was featured on tons of TV shows, even on Paul Harvey’s syndicated radio show.

After he died, the good news that I then launched a fund, called the Ricky Fund, with the non-profit Winn Feline Foundation. The idea has been to raise dollars and awareness, so we can learn more about heart disease in cats. And that’s happened. Still, there is no magic pill for this insidious killer of cats, but at least we  know more than we did as a result of several studies funded by the Winn Feline Foundation. Learn more about the Ricky Fund, and perhaps celebrate by making a donation – modest or not so modest – every dollar helps.

 

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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